Birmingham Stallions vs. DC Defenders | Week 4 UFL Preview

Birmingham Stallions vs. DC Defenders | Week 4 Preview

The unbeaten Birmingham Stallions (3-0) host the DC Defenders (2-1) at Protective Stadium, in a highly-anticipated matchup between two top teams in spring football from last season. This week four clash is a game that many had circled on their calendars prior to the year’s kickoff.

Even with a winning record, the Defenders have underwhelmed in the eyes of many around the league through three games, and have a tough task at regrouping this week against an ultra-talented Stallions team. Birmingham is led by HC Skip Holtz, now in his third year with the team. Holtz is renowned in the south as a legendary football coach, but continuous praise for his character is what truly puts his name with the greats.

The Stallions are coming off a week three win against the Memphis Showboats, where they dominated the second half, winning 33-14 in their home opener.

While the Defenders are playing their second straight road game, after mounting a late comeback win last week vs. Arlington, 29-28. Gaining sweet revenge from last year’s XFL Championship.

Let’s dive into the quarterbacks, and evaluate how Saturday night’s game between the Defenders and Stallions might play out.

Quarterback Play

The DC Defenders are under their second season with QB Jordan Ta’amu at the helm. Last week, Ta’amu had his best performance of the season, finishing 11/24 for 188 yards, and two touchdowns. On the ground, Ta’amu showed up in a major way, finishing with a season-high 53 rushing yards on nine attempts. Last week was also Ta’amu’s first game without a turnover this season, a key to DC’s potential success against Birmingham this week.

For Birmingham, they underwent a quarterback switch last week, naming Adrian Martinez the starter over Matt Corral before kickoff. A surprising move to many, considering the Stallions 2-0 start, but after seeing Martinez’s performance vs. Memphis, it was easy to see why Coach Holtz made the decision. Martinez posted the most impressive numbers for a QB so far this UFL season, finishing 18/28 for 334 yards, and two touchdowns. Martinez also led the way on the ground, rushing for 44 yards on just five carries, also adding a rushing touchdown.

Head to head, both quarterbacks pose major issues whether inside or outside of the pocket. We should see plenty of RPOs on both sides, even though we have not seen it quite as often for DC as we did last season. OC Fred Kaiss may benefit from adding a heavy RPO mix back into the offense.

Standout Playmakers

The Defenders offense has seen a new group of playmakers emerge with the loss of RB Abram Smith (injury) and WRs Chris Blair and Lucky Jackson (NFL). WR Ty Scott leads the team in receiving through three games, with eight receptions for 152 yards, and a touchdown.

DC has not seen as much success on the ground compared to last season, where Abram Smith led the XFL in rushing yards. To be fair though, Smith had 153 rushing yards on 38 carries (4.13 YPC) through the first three games last season, while Cam’Ron Harris has 26 rushes for 81 yards (3.1 YPC) entering week four.

The Stallions come into this matchup against DC with the two top rushers in the UFL currently. Leading the way is QB Adrian Martinez, who has 161 rushing yards on just 16 attempts (10.1 YPC). While RB CJ Marable leads all running backs in rushing, with 42 attempts for 140 yards. Birmingham will not be afraid to lean on the run against DC’s front seven, the Defenders currently rank fourth in stopping the run this season.

Adrian Martinez also has a wide variety of receiving options, led by WR Deon Cain, who leads the UFL in receiving yards with 240 yards on 13 receptions.

Cain is a physically daunting receiver that can strike fear in any opposing DB, the Defenders will need to have a better day than they did against Tyler Vaughns this past week to be successful on Saturday.

Finally, perhaps the most dynamic player on Birmingham’s offense, RB Ricky Person Jr. has been a weapon in the running and passing game for Skip Holtz’ high-powered offense. Person has 25 carries for 82 rushing yards, along with 7 receptions for 106 receiving yards, totaling three touchdowns.

Defensive coordinator Gregg WIlliams and the Defenders defense will certainly have their hands full at Protective Stadium this week.

Defenders O-Line vs. Stallions Pass-Rush

The offensive line has been a hot topic for the Defenders throughout the offseason, and after three games it continues to be a point of focus. We saw in week one against San Antonio when Ta’amu was under immense pressure, and was even forced to leave the game momentarily. The team has made a few tweaks to the offensive line since then, but there is still improvement to be made.

Birmingham’s pass-rush will be looking to hunt this week, after an eight-sack performance against the Showboats in week three. The Stallions lead the league in sacks by a wide margin with 17 total, nine more sacks than the next team.

One Stallions player to watch for will be DT Carlos Davis. Davis has 6.5 sacks in three games, and is showing zero signs of slowing down.

Final Thoughts

The Birmingham Stallions have picked up where they left off in the USFL, and in certain phases look even better than the last two seasons where they dominated the league. Birmingham’s statistical rankings shed more light on the masterclass they’ve displayed through three weeks.

Defenders head coach Reggie Barlow must have his team prepared for war and ready to return to their 2023 form on Saturday night. The RPO will be crucial to the Defenders offense, and should be a defining factor in any significant success we see for DC. Ta’amu has shown the ability to lead that quick-decision offense, and it will be interesting to see if Kaiss leans on it more.

The Stallions will be a tough team to knock-off, especially with the type of form they’re in through all phases. As mentioned, DC will need to bring the swagger and play style back from 2023 to stay in this fight against Birmingham.

The DC Defenders vs. Birmingham Stallions kicks off at Protective Stadium on April 20th, at 7pm ET on FOX.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Birmingham, DC

What are your thoughts on this matchup between the Birmingham Stallions and DC Defenders? Which players will make an impact? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!