Memphis Showboats vs. San Antonio Brahmas | Week 2 UFL Preview

Memphis Showboats vs. San Antonio Brahmas | Week 2 Preview

Week two of the UFL will kick off with two undefeated teams going head to head. The Memphis Showboats make their home debut, against the San Antonio Brahmas who had an excellent week one performance.

Briefly recapping week one: San Antonio took the entire league by surprise in their opener. I was trying to tell you all last week – this is not the same Brahmas team from a year ago. They are vastly improved in almost every aspect. The Brahmas handled DC at home, winning 27-12.

Memphis came up with a big win on the road, topping the Houston Roughnecks 18-12. However, there’s definitely plenty of room for improvement, as they face a tougher opponent this time around.

Let’s take a look at the key factors, and what we can expect.

Quarterback Play

This matchup features two of the top quarterbacks in the UFL. While one is essentially a rookie, and the other is a veteran, both led their teams to victories in week one.

Chase Garbers showed quite a bit of promise in A.J. Smith’s offense against DC. He did an excellent job of getting the ball out of his hand quickly, and made several throws that were very impressive – including a couple of his checkdowns.

If Garbers can continue to play at this level, showing growth from week to week, the Brahmas will be one of the best teams in the UFL. His upside is what will make or break this team. So far, so good.

Case Cookus threw for over 200 yards and a touchdown in their win against Houston. It wasn’t a perfect day for Case, but his offensive line struggled mightily throughout large portions of the game.

We know what to expect from Cookus. He’s a seasoned spring football vet at this point, having played with the Stars the last two USFL seasons. With another week of practice under his belt with his wideouts, a couple of those miscommunications from Sunday’s game should hopefully be ironed out.

Standout Playmakers

Starting with the San Antonio Brahmas, this team has a wide variety of playmakers to utilize. They had DC’s defense on their toes all game long, especially given how speedy their RB’s/WR’s are.

Anthony McFarland had a great debut, averaging 5.7 YPC and scoring the first touchdown of the day for the team. Jontre Kirklin picked up right where he left off before injury last year, and the additions of Justin Smith and Marquez Stevenson are not talked about enough. Garbers has quite a few quality targets to find, which makes this offense so dangerous.

Not to mention, Cody Latimer was not used much at all in week one. If they can get him going in week two, this offense will be even better. Coach Phillips mentioned this week that they’d like to get their tight ends more involved on Saturday.

For the Showboats, they have some work to do in the backfield. Darius Victor only ran for a few yards on the day. OC Doug Martin mentioned that he wants to see more of Trey Williams this week, to help balance things out.

Sage Surratt, Jonathan Adams, and Daewood Davis highlight the offensive talent this team possesses. All three made an impact on Sunday, and similar to the rest of the team, should show improvement with more time to build chemistry. The trusty Vinny Papale is also someone to keep an eye on this week against an opportunistic San Antonio Defense.

Defensive Matchup

Both Memphis and San Antonio had excellent defensive performances on Sunday. For the Brahmas, they completely shut down what was a potent DC offense a year ago. Granted, the Defenders are missing a lot of those pieces.

But generally speaking, Will Reed’s defense did an excellent job. They made sure that Jordan Ta’amu couldn’t get into a consistent rhythm, and without Abram Smith, DC’s run game was nonexistent.

This week, they’ll have a bit of a different task. Cookus has been a prolific passer in the USFL, but can also use his legs when needed. DC Reed acknowledged that they probably won’t have to worry as much about the RPO game this week, but can’t ignore what Case brings from a mobility perspective.

For Memphis, this defense played excellent football – and leaned on their playmakers from 2023. Kyree Woods, Greg Reaves, John Atkins, etc. all showed up in Houston. Now, they’ll have another challenge in front of them. San Antonio might be the fastest team in the UFL. They have speed every single way you look.

Now, if Memphis can force San Antonio into third down situations, that’s where they could see success. The Brahmas weren’t great in that aspect, only converting one of their eight third down attempts against DC. Look for DC Carnell Lake to keep those screens in check, in order to allow for third and long situations for his defense.

Coaching Matchup

San Antonio Brahmas | Wade Phillips: Phillips needs no introduction, and is now in his second coaching spring football. Wade was with the Houston Roughnecks last year, leading them to the playoffs with a 7-3 record. Things have gone smoothly so far for Wade in San Antonio, and one would expect his team to continue to shine this year.

Memphis Showboats | John DeFilippo: DeFilippo has a very similar spring football journey with Wade. Both were on different teams in 2023, but had to take up a new venture with the USFL-XFL merger. John’s Breakers were also 7-3 in 2023, just like Wade’s Roughnecks. These two coaches are two of the most accomplished in this league, and one would imagine that John will have his team prepared for a down to the wire match against the Brahmas.

Coach DeFilippo gave some thoughts on what he’s expecting in this game against San Antonio:

“I watched their home game. They’re unbelievably solid. They’re a much different team than Houston. Their defensive line, they’re smaller, but faster. It brings up a whole new level of what we’re trying to do to block them. We need to be ready for their pass rush. Offensively, they do some unique things, spreading people out across the field. We have to weather the storm early.”

Key Factors

Heading into this game, the San Antonio Brahmas feel like a slight favorite, and here’s why. Offensively, they were more dynamic than Memphis a week ago. The Showboats could not run the football at all. That’s a major problem. If they don’t make any adjustments heading into this week, things could get ugly.

That said, we’ve seen Case Cookus perform at a high level in this scene so many times. He shines when the pressure is on. For the Brahmas, they’ll have to keep the football in front of them on defense, like they did against DC. Doug Martin might want to think about taking a couple of early deep shots to keep the Brahmas defense guessing.

A key deciding factor, that is making me lean towards the Brahmas, is the offensive line play. While A.J. Smith’s offense allows for Chase Garbers to throw the ball quickly, their O-Line was able to protect Chase relatively well throughout the affair.

On the other hand, Memphis struggled to protect Case. He was getting rocked from start to finish. This unit needs to step up big-time against a fierce San Antonio rush, one who sacked Jordan Ta’amu a total of four times. Cookus is going to have to prepare to use his legs often and early in this one.

Coach DeFilippo acknowledged this in a media presser today. He said “We were horrible, horrible on first down”. According to Flip, Memphis faced 19 plays on second down where they still had at least eight yards to go. Obviously, that can’t happen again.

Final Thoughts

Generally speaking, this game should feature some solid scoring on both sides. With another week of practice, the offenses are expected to look a bit smoother on Saturday.

The Memphis Showboats vs. San Antonio Brahmas kicks off on April 6th, at 12pm ET on ESPN.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Memphis, San Antonio

What are your thoughts on this matchup between the San Antonio Brahmas and Memphis Showboats? Which players will make an impact? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!