DC Defenders vs. San Antonio Brahmas | Week 6 Preview

DC Defenders vs. San Antonio Brahmas | Week 6 Preview

The San Antonio Brahmas (4-1) visit the DC Defenders (2-3) this week at Audi Field to complete the second half of their season series in the XFL conference. This will be the first series to be completed in the XFL conference this year.

The Brahmas won game one of the series in week one to open the season, 27-12 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. If you missed the first matchup, it was a lopsided affair, with DC not finding the end zone once. Chase Garbers was the starting quarterback then for San Antonio, and was an important piece to the Brahams strong start this season. He has since sustained a season-ending wrist injury, placing him on injured reserve and elevating Quinten Dormady to QB1 for OC AJ Smith’s offense.

San Antonio heads into the game with an extra day of rest, after defeating the Arlington Renegades in last week’s opener, 25-15 at Choctaw Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Defenders lost to the St. Louis Battlehawks in their first home loss at Audi Field in franchise history, 45-12.

Quarterback Play

With Dormady inserted as the Brahmas starter, the game plan for Smith’s offense has been forced to change due to Dormady’s tendencies in the pocket vs. Garbers. Dormady tends to keep his eyes downfield longer, looking for the big play. Garbers is more safe and will use his checkdowns when needed or available, but is also extremely accurate in that range. Through two games, Dormady has thrown 42/67 for 433 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions.

The key for DC’s defense will be creating pressure and not allowing Dormady time to deal downfield, and later expose them for big plays. The San Antonio playmakers are plentiful, and will cause havoc if given the opportunity.

Jordan Ta’amu is the starting quarterback for DC, and will be looking to improve on his performance last week against St. Louis, where he was responsible for four turnovers (three interceptions and one fumble).

Through the first half of the regular season, Ta’amu is 76/146 passing (52.1 comp%), with 888 yards, and seven touchdowns, along with five interceptions. Ta’amu has also been sacked eight times. As the captain of the offense, it’s been a less than ideal start for his unit.

Standout Playmakers

Bringing it back to San Antonio’s playmakers, wide receiver Jontre Kirklin leads the Brahmas in receiving through five weeks. Kirklin’s chemistry with OC AJ Smith did not skip a beat from last season with Houston, as it’s become evident that Kirklin possesses true number one wideout capabilities. Kirklin currently has 34 catches for 314 yards, and two touchdowns. He ranks third in the UFL in receiving yards.

Another weapon for Dormady vs. DC will be Marquez Stevenson, who has worked mainly from the slot for San Antonio. Stevenson is a gadget player for SA’s offense and his speed allows him to be a real threat on sweeps and screens. His kick/punt returning abilities also present an element of danger for DC, as Stevenson is projected to be the starting returner with McFarland and Phillips missing consecutive practices this week. Stevenson is one to watch this week.

Aside from Kirklin and Stevenson, the Brahmas other receiving options include tight ends Cody Latimer and Alize Mack, along with wide receiver Justin Smith. The Defenders struggled mightily against Hakeem Butler last week, who is a long target that towers over defensive backs. Latimer, Mack, and Smith all present similar traits to Butler, so look out for 50-50 balls often this week.

DC Defenders Standouts

Heading into this season, it was unclear who would be emerging as starters out of training camp. As we cross the midway point of the season, it appears a group has begun to separate themselves as guys that can be consistent contributors to the team.

Former NC State product Kelvin Harmon leads the team in receiving with 17 receptions for 237 yards, and two touchdowns. Harmon has had a couple unfortunate drops through five games, but Harmon has proven to be a viable starting option outside for DC.

Ty Scott has been the Defenders second-most productive wide receiver, even in extremely limited time when you compare his snap count to production. Scott has 8 receptions for 152 yards, and a touchdown this season. His 19.0 YPC ranks third among receivers with a minimum of five catches. In comparison, Scott has 68 snaps to Harmon’s 253 snaps through five games. Offensive coordinator Fred Kaiss must find a way to get Ty Scott on the field more.

Another wideout that deserves more spotlight than he’s receiving is Chris Rowland, who regularly works out of the slot for DC. Rowland took over slot duties earlier this season when Keke Coutee went down with an injury that sidelined him for multiple games. With Coutee now healthy, the Defenders seem to be struggling with working him and Rowland together in successful packages. Nonetheless, Rowland has been a spark plug for DC at certain times this season, he currently has seven catches for 122 yards, and two touchdowns.

Injury Report

The following image is the most recent injury report that has been made available to the media.

Final Thoughts

This is a vastly important matchup for the DC Defenders, as they must prevent from falling to 2-4 at all costs this week. A loss will not mathematically rule them out of the playoffs, but being three games back with only four games left would be a steep hill to climb for DC. The Brahmas come to town looking for a third straight win, and with only one loss so far this season to the Battlehawks in week three, 31-24.

The Brahmas certainly have the momentum heading into Audi Field, especially after the DC Defenders suffered their first ever loss at home last week against St. Louis. Even with San Antonio favored away this week, this feels like a game Defenders head coach Reggie Barlow will have his team prepared for. Barlow took complete blame following last week’s loss, and will look to have his men ready for Sunday.

No score prediction this week, but Defenders get back to winning ways at home this week in a close affair with San Antonio.

Looking around the league, the Battlehawks host the Roughnecks in what is expected to be a St. Louis victory. Although anything can happen, expect St. Louis to remain vying for first place after this week.

The DC Defenders will host the San Antonio Brahmas at 4pm ET this Sunday, on FOX.

Full Roster Breakdowns: DC, San Antonio

What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup between the San Antonio Brahmas and DC Defenders? Which UFL players do you expect will impress? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!