Fans are genuinely appreciating the high quality football being played – and it has improved with each week. The USFL provided no shortage of big plays, as we saw quite a few touchdowns this past weekend.
Philadelphia has struggled to find consistency from their ground game for large portions of the season. That all changed this past week, as Matt Colburn absolutely took it to Tampa Bay’s defense. His dominance throughout the game’s entirety powered Philadelphia to a crucial week six victory, as they maintained the second seed in the North.
Now, the Stars still have some things to improve. Defensively, the Bandits got what they wanted for most of the afternoon. That being said, Philadelphia got the job done in the final minutes, holding Tampa out of the endzone on their final drive. If the Stars can continue to get quality minutes from Colburn, and Darnell Holland, it makes life that much easier for Case Cookus & Co.
Tampa Bay has a lot to work on, which is frustrating considering how good Jordan Ta’amu has been playing as of late. He threw for over 300 yards on Saturday, alongside four touchdowns. Unfortunately, his final attempt of the day sailed over his tight end’s head, ending the game in disappointing fashion.
Tampa Bay’s defense has been pretty underwhelming all season long, and that was the case this past week. The Stars ran all over their squad, scoring 35 points. When Colburn wasn’t giving them headaches on the ground, Bug Howard was catching passes in the end zone. Todd Haley has got to get this group in order. It’s unacceptable for the Bandits to lose a game, especially when their offense (well, Ta’amu) plays that well. If Tampa Bay wants to make a playoff push, their defense has to tighten up by a large margin.
Time and time again, we see why Birmingham is still the only undefeated team in this league. After a back and forth first half with Michigan, the Stallions put together some outstanding drives to pull away in the third and fourth quarters. The emergence of Bo Scarbrough was not surprising, but something Birmingham very much needed. Bo was unstoppable on Saturday night, powering the Stallions to a dominant second half.
Defensively, the Stallions shut down Michigan down the stretch, forcing timely turnovers while creating havoc in the backfield. Even though J’Mar Smith wasn’t perfect by any means, Birmingham’s offense was a force to be reckoned with, blasting through the Panthers front seven all night long. If the Stallions continue to close games the way that they have, this team might not lose a game at all.
Michigan just cannot find a way to win football games. Of course, facing off against Birmingham is no easy task. However, it’s clear that the Panthers simply were not up to the challenge. Talent wise, the team features some excellent players and athletes – but they are not on the same level as the USFL’s elite. On the bright side, Shea Patterson has shown improvement over the past couple of weeks, looking a bit more comfortable in the pocket.
Unfortunately, the Panthers continue to find ways to lose momentum in clutch circumstances. Just like last week against Tampa Bay, untimely turnovers and errors allowed Birmingham to take a two score lead – something Michigan could not overcome. While playoffs are still on the table, Jeff Fisher has a lot to figure out when it comes to seeing success as a franchise.
The Breakers desperately needed a bounce back week from their offense, specifically Kyle Sloter. While Sloter’s numbers were relatively mediocre, it was Anthony Jones who stole the show. Jones ran for over 100 yards in his USFL debut, and found the endzone to put New Orleans on top early. Between Jones and Jordan Ellis, New Orleans has an outstanding backfield, one that can do a lot of damage to opposing defenses.
Speaking of defense – the Breakers made Pittsburgh look foolish for most of the afternoon. Granted, Vad Lee almost found a way to come back late, but Ike Brown’s dominance in the secondary essentially sealed a Breakers victory. If Kyle Sloter can simply get healthy as the playoffs approach, it would not be surprising at all to see this team in the Championship.
It seemed like Pittsburgh finally turned the corner last week. Unfortunately, that was not the case. While Vad Lee has shown some late game heroics in both outings, it is Kirby Wilson’s poor game plans that continue to hand his own team losses. Wilson’s offense is very basic, and he loves to run the football. However, running the ball just does not work when you do the same thing over and over again.
VAD LEE DOESN'T QUIT 😤🔨@_VL2 makes it 7 point game with 5 minutes left to play 🔥
No disrespect to Garrett Groshek or Madre London – but you simply can’t expect to win games when Lee hands the ball off to them on every first and second down situation. Lee could not find a groove against New Orleans, simply because Kirby did not allow him to. The Maulers cannot find their identity as an offense, and it’s hard not to put the blame on Wilson. Their poor showing against the Breakers was another example of just that.
New Jersey is on a roll. Mike Riley is a coaching genius – and the team has the best backup QB in the league. After DeAndre Johnson went down with an injury, Luis Perez filled in incredibly well. He led New Jersey back time and time again, ultimately scoring on the game winning drive. While his abilities may not be as flashy as Johnson’s, Perez has a knack for finding his playmakers. Luis put on a masterclass in the second half, keeping the General’s winning streak alive.
KaVontae Turpin has been an extremely valuable asset, and once again was on Sunday. The shifty receiver caught two touchdowns on the day, while racking up well over 100 total yards. Turpin is simply special. Riley continues to make him a big part of New Jersey’s offense, and for good reason.
Defensively, the Generals certainly have some improving to do, as Clayton Thorson looked pretty dang good against their unit. If it weren’t for New Jersey controlling possession for the entire third quarter, this game may have had a different outcome. But, as long as New Jersey’s defense improves as the season nears its end, the Generals will be well on their way to the Championship game.
Houston, oh Houston. This Gamblers team put it all on the line on Sunday, leaving everything on the field. It simply was not enough. Thorson surprisingly had an efficient day through the air, while Mark Thompson caught two touchdowns (yes, you read that right).
Their defense absolutely came to play, generating multiple turnovers. Chris Odom has been a menace all season long, forcing two fumbles on the afternoon – including the go-ahead scoop and score in the fourth quarter.
🚨BIG MAN TOUCHDOWN🚨
Tomasi Laulile finds the end zone after another forced fumble from @Chrisodom98
However, the Gamblers still lost on the last play of the game, as crazy as that sounds. It’s been the same story every week. Kevin Sumlin has not found a way for his team to come through with a victory, and now the Gamblers sit at 1-5 in the South Division. While Houston has so much talent across the board, they are not built for the big moments. Quite simply, you can’t win if you don’t show up when the lights are the brightest.
At the end of the day, week six was another exceptional week in the USFL. Every game was exciting from start to finish. Not to mention, trick plays and outstanding receptions are becoming a staple in the USFL, making appearances on a daily basis.
・ Tomasi Laulile's scoop & score on his birthday 🎂 ・ Luis Perez pulls off the 'Philly Jersey Special' trick play 👀 ・ Marlon Williams' incredible catch while losing his helmet 🤯
As the season heads towards the finish line, it will be quite interesting to see everything unfold in each division. No one has been eliminated quite yet – but some are very, very close. Week seven is bound to be a good one, folks.
What did you think of week six in the USFL? Which game was your favorite to watch? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!