San Antonio Brahmas vs. Michigan Panthers | Week 4 Preview

San Antonio Brahmas vs. Michigan Panthers | Week 4 Preview

The San Antonio Brahmas return to the Alamodome for another game this weekend. This time, the USFL’s Michigan Panthers are coming to town, hitting the road for the first time all season.

Last week, the Brahmas suffered their first loss of the year. It was a double-whammy of bad news for the team, as they lost starting QB Chase Garbers for the rest of the season with an injury as well. St. Louis took control offensively early on, and the Brahmas couldn’t find a way to get over the hump after falling behind.

For the Michigan Panthers, they bounced back in a big way against Houston. They put up 34 points – the most of any UFL team this season – dominating the second half.

With two teams trending in different directions, let’s take a look at what we can expect in this UFL showdown.

Quarterback Play

Right off the bat, we’ll be looking at a different quarterback in a San Antonio Brahmas uniform. Quinten Dormady will be making his UFL debut. He became famous in the XFL last year when he got let go by the Orlando Guardians for allegedly leaking playbooks.

Once he got cleared to return, Dormady proved to be the best quarterback in Orlando all of last year. He had a remarkable six touchdown performance in week seven against DC, lifting the Guardians to their first win of the entire season.

However, it wasn’t all perfect for Dormady. He turned the ball over five times next week, as Orlando was eliminated from playoff contention.

For Quinten, this will be an interesting opportunity. He’s now a part of a much better offensive system, with A.J. Smith at the helm. Hopefully, this means that we will see more consistency from Quinten since he’s in a more stable situation.

E.J. Perry, on the other hand, looked the best he has all year against Houston. He rushed for another two scores, utilizing his mobility early and often. As a passer, though, Perry was phenomenal. He’s continued to make better decisions from week to week, and one would expect that trend to continue as he gets more familiar with Marcel Bellefeuille’s offense.

Standout Playmakers

The Michigan Panthers have a wide receiver room that is beginning to figure things out. Marcus Simms is emerging as a go-to guy for E.J. Perry, with long scores in back to back weeks. His speed is second to none in this league, and he’s proven to be an extremely valuable asset that was, no doubt, underutilized a year ago. Newly signed Siaosi Mariner has also put up impressive numbers, and is someone to keep a close eye on this week.

Matt Colburn, who was inactive in week two, made an impact against Houston, and showcased some of the explosiveness that looked reminiscent of his days in Philadelphia when he was healthy. Given the Battlehawks success on the ground against San Antonio, Colburn and Wes Hills could be in for a big day.

San Antonio has quite a bit of talent, but needs to figure out how to get them involved earlier in the game. Jontre Kirklin was uncharacteristically off this past week, missing on a couple of big plays. That said, Dormady has some guys on this roster that he’s familiar with, as WR K.D. Cannon and TE Cody Latimer were with him in Orlando last year.

RB Anthony McFarland seems to be a no go for this week, as he has been a DNP for the past two days after suffering an injury against St. Louis. This could mean that we will see some of newly signed RB Morgan Ellison.

Offensive Line Issues For Michigan

The injury bug could be getting to Michigan. Jarrett Horst and Ryan Pope have both been DNP’s in practice so far this week, which is a problem given the injuries this team has already faced at the O-Line position. On Sunday, they were down to only five lineman in the game – had one more injury occurred, Mike Nolan said that he would have had to play a tight end at tackle.

For a group that performed quite well this past week, Michigan will have to hope that this unit will be at full strength against a stout Brahmas pass rush.

Can The Brahmas Defense Bounce Back?

San Antonio’s defense has been one of the better groups in the UFL so far this year. Against the Battlehawks, though, they struggled. They gave up a season high 31 points to A.J. McCarron’s group, and showed some moments of weakness throughout the game.

Now, they’ll be faced with another challenge: trying to slow down a surging Michigan Panthers offense. Defensive Coordinator Will Reed will have to get this unit locked in, especially on E.J Perry and his ability to escape the pocket and run the football.

Panthers’ Defensive Tactics

Michigan’s defense has been playing excellent football. According to PFF, they’re the third best defensively graded team in the league, only behind Birmingham and San Antonio. A key for the Panthers in this game will be to apply pressure on Dormady early. This will be his first action of the season, and if Michigan can make him uncomfortable from the get go, it’ll help their case out quite a bit on the road.

Coaching Matchup

Michigan Panthers | Mike Nolan: In his second season with the Panthers, Mike Nolan has this group playing some solid football. Defensively, they have been fantastic. Lately, they also are beginning to figure things out offensively. With Houston and Memphis’ early struggles in the UFL, Nolan has his team primed to make a playoff run.

Coach Nolan gave some comments this week on this upcoming road trip:

“San Antonio is a little bit more of a passing team than a rushing team. They use a lot of the same formations that our team uses as well, which are wide and spread out formations. San Antonio is an explosive team, you can never count them out. They’re right here in the same hub with us, so we’re around them quite a bit. Look, they’ve got a good football team and both of us have the same record, so it should be exciting.”

San Antonio Brahmas | Wade Phillips: This will be the first time that Phillips faces off against Nolan in the spring football scene. Phillips has spoken highly of Mike this week, as the two have a friendship dating back to the 90’s when they were both in Denver. For Wade, this is an opportunity to get his talented team back on track at home.

Final Thoughts

These are two playoff caliber organizations who will now clash in what is an important week four. San Antonio is dealing with St. Louis and DC in the XFL conference, who both also have 2-1 records. Michigan, with a win here, could put themselves in a nice position in the USFL conference with just one game to go until the halfway point.

Given the balanced position groups on each of these rosters, I’m expecting this game to come down to the wire at the AlamoDome. A Wade Phillips’ coached team rarely loses two times in a row, so if any team is a slight favorite in this one, it’s San Antonio with their home field advantage.

The San Antonio Brahmas host the Michigan Panthers at 7pm ET this Saturday, broadcasted on FOX.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Michigan, San Antonio

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