Michigan Panthers vs. Memphis Showboats | Week 8 Preview

Michigan Panthers vs. Memphis Showboats | Week 8 Preview

Week eight of the UFL will kick off this weekend, with two familiar foes going at it. The Michigan Panthers will host the Memphis Showboats at Ford Field, looking to sweep the season series between these two teams.

So far, Memphis and Michigan are tied at one win a piece, dating back to 2023. The Showboats got the upper hand in 2023 when these two faced off in Detroit, with a 29-10 win.

This year, the Michigan Panthers are clearly the better team. They have already clinched the playoffs with a 5-2 record, and are on a three game win streak which began with a victory in Memphis. When these franchises went at it in week five, it was a dominant effort from the Panthers, who came away with a 35-18 win.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect this time around.

Quarterback Play

For the Michigan Panthers, there is a bit of uncertainty at the quarterback position. Danny Etling is day-to-day, still dealing with a hand injury that will likely sideline him for another week.

Bryce Perkins and Brian Lewerke both split time this past game against DC. They did well, and were supported by a strong running game that allowed Michigan to take an early lead.

Across the board, Perkins looked like the better quarterback in the pocket. His throws were on point, and his mobility brings a new dynamic to Michigan’s offense. Brian missed on a few passes that should’ve been made, but part of that could be that it was his first action of the last two seasons.

Whatever comes of the quarterback room in Michigan, the Panthers do have a few capable signal callers available.

On the Showboats side, it feels like we should see Troy Williams again – but he did suffer an injury towards the end of that game. Case Cookus, if healthier, will get the start.

Neither Cookus or Williams have had much success this year. Troy played in the game against Michigan a few weeks ago, turning the ball over three times.

Standout Playmakers

The Panthers have no shortage of offensive firepower. They’re led by the likes of Marcus Simms, Matt Colburn, and Wes Hills who have all been tremendous this year.

Additionally, Michigan’s role players have done an excellent job of providing support. Wide receivers Siaosi Mariner and Samson Nacua have developed quite nicely over the last few weeks. Cole Hikutini has also made his presence known, while Trey Quinn continues to show up in clutch moments.

The Memphis Showboats have consistently failed to get their playmakers involved as often as they should. With Memphis playing from behind constantly, it’s difficult for them to run the ball much. This puts too much pressure on the offensive line to pass block, which has resulted in a rather underwhelming offensive performance.

That said, the Showboats do feature some top tier talent, such as Jonathan Adams and Daewood Davis. Sage Surratt has also figured things out as of late. Those three could potentially see NFL interest following the season – primarily, Daewood Davis.

Two Different Defenses

Let’s compare these two defenses, shall we? Memphis has been downright atrocious this season. They’re allowing 31.1 points per game (8th) – and over the past five losses, they’ve let opponents score an average of 37.6 PPG. This all ballooned with Arlington scoring 47 against them this past weekend.

When it comes to YPG, the Showboats are giving up 350 yards a game. That’s insane. The next worst team is DC, at 315. Memphis cannot stop anyone, and it’s evident on the field. Their defense has been absolutely terrible under Carnell Lake this year. It’s strange, since that unit was pretty solid a season ago.

Collin Bauer, on the other hand, is one of the “young guns” in the UFL. This is his first season as a Defensive Coordinator in professional football, and Michigan is humming. They’re allowing just 18.6 PPG (3rd), and have given up the second fewest rushing yards (526).

Michigan’s defense has done a solid job of getting after the quarterback often, which is something they should be able to expose. Showboats Offensive Coordinator Doug Martin spoke this week specifically about trying to slow down Breeland Speaks, as he’s been a menace this season.

Given the status of these two defenses, one would expect Michigan to see some legitimate offensive success this weekend.

Comparing The Numbers

In week five, a few key statistics determined the outcome of that game:

  • Michigan turned the ball over just once, Memphis on the other hand gave it away four times
  • The Panthers sacked Troy Williams seven times, they could not be slowed down in the trenches
  • Michigan rushed for 160 yards and five touchdowns; their ground game was unstoppable
  • Memphis was 0-3 on fourth downs, Michigan was 1-1

The main point of emphasis defensively for Memphis will be to slow down Michigan’s ground game. They have been tearing up opponents over the past few weeks – including the Showboats – in that category.

Coaching Matchup

Michigan Panthers | Mike Nolan: Mike Nolan should be in the runnings for Coach Of The Year awards. His Panthers are 5-2, having eclipsed their win total from 2023 just seven weeks into the year. Michigan has also clinched a playoff berth. They’ve played outstanding football, and are poised to make a deep run if these trends continue.

Mike Nolan spoke a bit on what he wants to finetune with the Panthers moving forward:

“The thing that we need to do going forward is get healthy. That’s one. But that’s not at the risk or cost of getting better. We have to continue to get better. We’re only seven weeks into a ten game season. In the NFL, they’re playing 18 weeks. Every team kind of knows who they are now, but there’s plenty of room for improvement by all of us with a short season. We need to continue to work, and take each game seriously with the intent of getting better as a football team.”

Memphis Showboats | John DeFilippo: It’s not been the same story for John DeFilippo, as his Showboats are 1-6 and already eliminated from playoff contention. It’s been difficult for John and his staff, as they had to take on the brunt of a Showboats organization from a season ago – a team he didn’t coach. With their playoff hopes now gone, John will continue to evaluate this team and the direction they should go in moving forward.

Final Thoughts

Heading into this affair, the Michigan Panthers are the clear favorite. They took care of business against Memphis on the road in week five, and continue to get through opponents with ease. Their 22-9 win against DC was nothing short of impressive, and as long as their quarterbacks stay healthy, they’re in good shape.

The Michigan Panthers will host the Memphis Showboats at 4pm ET this Saturday. It will be their final home game of the season.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Memphis, Michigan

What are your thoughts on this upcoming matchup between the Michigan Panthers and Memphis Showboats? Which UFL players will need to impress? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!