Birmingham Stallions vs. St. Louis Battlehawks | Week 7 Preview

Birmingham Stallions vs. St. Louis Battlehawks | Week 7 Preview

Folks, buckle up. The UFL matchup we’ve been waiting for is upon us. The Birmingham Stallions host the St. Louis Battlehawks this weekend, in what is going to be a monumental affair in spring football. Two of the top organizations we’ve ever seen in this scene will clash – in what many expect to be a Championship preview.

Heading into this game, the Birmingham Stallions are rolling through everyone in the UFL. They’re 6-0, and have won 13 straight games dating back to the 2023 USFL season. Skip Holtz has his unit operating like a well oiled machine, which isn’t at all surprising given their past success.

The Battlehawks have proven to be the best team in the XFL conference. They want to now prove that they’re the best team in the UFL – by beating the best team. With how A.J. McCarron & Co. are playing as of late, don’t be surprised if they find a way to get it done.

The hype is real for this one, and we fully expect the fans on both sides to lean into this new rivalry in the UFL. Let’s take a look at what we can expect.

A.J. McCarron’s Return To Alabama

The league couldn’t have asked for a better storyline heading into this game. A.J. McCarron – the former Alabama star, is making his return to the state for the first time to play professional football.

During his time as a starter in college at Alabama, McCarron had a 20-3 record. His success there is what led to the NFL stints he had in Cincinnati and Atlanta.

McCarron is playing like the best quarterback in the UFL right now. He was the XFL’s top signal caller in 2023, and that has translated to more spring football success this year. McCarron has thrown for 1,306 yards in 2024 (2nd), and leads the UFL with 13 touchdowns. He’s protected the football as well, only throwing two interceptions.

What makes McCarron’s Alabama re-entry so intriguing, is the quarterback play on the other side. Adrian Martinez is right up there with A.J., as one of the top passers – and rushers – in the UFL. Fans should expect high quality quarterback play across the board. Between Martinez and A.J., if both are in rhythm, it could be a high scoring affair.

Now, it’ll be fun to see if fans in Alabama will root for, or against AJ. You’d have to imagine that Stallions fans are as loyal as can be, but given what McCarron did for that entire state in the college scene, one has to wonder…

Standout Playmakers

There is no shortage of talent on either side of the football in this one. When it comes to the offensive standouts, each team is stacked.

Starting with the St. Louis Battlehawks, Jacob Saylors has emerged as one of the top running backs in the UFL. He’s currently got 242 yards and two scores, averaging 5YPC.

In the receiving game, Hakeem Butler, Jahcour Pearson, and Marcell Ateman have continued to impress. Butler is leading all wide receivers by a large margin, with 478 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He’s been an unstoppable force this year, and should make an impact this week as well.

On Birmingham’s side, they have a loaded roster. Truthfully, you never know who might pop off for the Stallions, because of their depth. For example, WR Kevin Austin Jr. tore up the Showboats last week with over 100 yards and a touchdown – after being dormant for most of the season.

Ricky Person Jr. is someone that Battlehawks’ DC Donnie Abraham said they have to keep an eye on. He has a league best six rushing touchdowns, fitting into Skip Holtz’ offensive schemes perfectly.

Two Stout Defenses

Not only are we watching two of the best offenses going at it – we also have the privilege of seeing two elite defensive units attempt to slow those offenses down.

St. Louis has done a tremendous job of turning their defense around from a year ago. The additions of Chris Payton-Jones, Pita Taumoepenu, Qwynnterrio Cole, and others have changed the scene entirely. So far this year, the Battlehawks are allowing the fewest yards of any team in the UFL.

That said, Birmingham’s defense is unreal. They allow less than 15 points a game to opponents, and have consistently gotten pressure with their front four. This is what has made it so frustrating for opposition, as the Stallions can disrupt the trenches without even blitzing. They lead the UFL with 21 sacks on the season.

A storyline to watch closely: Can Birmingham get after A.J. McCarron? AJ isn’t the most mobile quarterback in the league, which could prove to be a problem if he’s not getting enough time in the pocket.

For the Stallions, while the Battlehawks will undoubtedly apply pressure, Adrian Martinez has been killing defenses with his legs this year. For a time, he was leading all rushers – and as of right now, is second with 327 rushing yards.

Donnie Abraham will certainly want to keep a spy on Adrian, to stop him from taking off every play. That said, they’ll have to ensure that their coverage is spot on as well, because Martinez has diced up defenses these past few weeks through the air.

Key Statistics

  • Birmingham leads the UFL with 383.8 YPG
  • St. Louis leads the UFL allowing just 222.3 YPG
  • St. Louis leads the UFL with 28.8 PPG; Birmingham trails at 28.5 PPG
  • Birmingham allows just 14.8 PPG (1st); St. Louis trails at 17.2 PPG
  • Stallions lead the UFL in takeaways (11); St. Louis has only turned the ball over 5 times (1st)
  • Birmingham is 46.8% on third downs (2nd); Battlehawks are 37.5% (6th)
  • St. Louis is the least penalized team in the league, with only 23 penalties

Coaching Matchup

Birmingham Stallions | Skip Holtz: Holtz is the standard when it comes to spring ball coaching. His Birmingham unit is now 27-3 across the last three seasons, as they continue to dominate no matter what league they’re a part of. Holtz has an opportunity now to be the first undefeated team in spring football history, outside of the 5-0 Houston Roughnecks in 2020.

St. Louis Battlehawks | Anthony Becht: We all know it by now – Becht is a player’s coach. He’s been absolutely perfect for St. Louis; their culture, the atmosphere, and everything about the Battlehawks’ impact in that city is because of the attitude and energy Anthony brings to the organization. His team continues to rally this year, building from week to week. With a 5-1 record, they’re eyeing the top spot in the UFL with a win here.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a spring football fan in the state of Alabama, you absolutely should be doing everything you can to get to this showdown at Protective Stadium. It’s bound to be a spring football classic, and features some of the top players we’ve ever seen in this scene.

This is a game that could go either way. Birmingham feels like the slight favorite since they will have home field advantage, and are the only undefeated team in the league.

The Birmingham Stallions will host the St. Louis Battlehawks this Saturday, at 4pm ET on FOX.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Birmingham, St. Louis

What are your thoughts on this upcoming game between the Birmingham Stallions and St. Louis Battlehawks? Which UFL players need to impress? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!