Memphis Showboats vs. Birmingham Stallions | Week 6 Preview Marvin Wilson

Memphis Showboats vs. Birmingham Stallions | Week 6 Preview

Week six of the UFL kicks off with a familiar faceoff between two USFL teams. The Memphis Showboats host the Birmingham Stallions in a rematch of what was a lopsided matchup in week three.

It’s been two different stories for these teams this year. The Birmingham Stallions cannot be stopped, as they are undefeated on the season with five wins. In fact, this team has won 12 straight games dating back to 2023.

The Memphis Showboats, on the other hand, are on a four game skid. They’ve shot themselves in the foot time and time again this year, and are on the brink of playoff elimination if they can’t turn this ship around quickly.

Back in week three, these teams played in Birmingham. The Stallions took it to the Showboats, totaling seven sacks and dominated their way to a 33-14 win at home. Let’s take a look at what we can expect in this rematch in Memphis.

Quarterback Play

The Birmingham Stallions feature two of the best quarterbacks in the league. Adrian Martinez has emerged as QB1 over the past few weeks, and Skip Holtz has finally decided to hand him the reins for a second straight game.

Martinez has been the second best QB in the UFL, right behind A.J. McCarron. He’s leading the UFL in rushing yards, and has grown as a passer as well. Adrian dominated Memphis when these two teams played in week three, totaling almost 400 yards of passing.

For the Memphis Showboats, it’s a constant evaluation at quarterback for John DeFilippo. Troy Williams made his first start a week ago, which was partially due to an injury that Case Cookus suffered in week four.

That said, DeFilippo has decided to move back to Case Cookus this week. Cookus has had an up and down year, and has struggled to find his footing with a team that is very pass heavy, with an underwhelming offensive line. Case will need to have a big day in order for Memphis to have a chance. He did not play well in their matchup a few weeks ago.

Standout Playmakers

The Birmingham Stallions are stacked offensively. They have one of the best offensive lines in the UFL, which has led to the success and emergence of RB Ricky Person Jr., who has five rushing touchdowns this year.

Additionally, tight end Jace Sternberger has come alive the past couple of weeks. He leads all tight ends with 201 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Deon Cain is the fourth leading WR in the league, and will look to bounce back after a couple of uncharacteristic drops this past weekend.

On Memphis’ side, Daewood Davis has emerged as a true WR1 for the Showboats. He could have had an even better outing against Michigan, had he not dropped a couple passes of his own.

A Struggling Showboats Offense…

An issue for the Showboats is their inability to run the football. Darius Victor still has some gas left in the tank, and should get more touches than he is, but he hasn’t been great. Against Michigan, Victor ran the ball nine times for just 17 yards. The offensive line hasn’t helped him much this year, and they’ve been beat down across the board.

Memphis is going down in these games often and early, so it’s a struggle for them to focus on running the football. John DeFilippo and Doug Martin have emphasized their desire to run the ball more often, but find themselves in situations where they can’t. Something has to give at some point – these offensive linemen can’t be dropping back 40-45 times a game to pass block.

…vs. A Stifling Stallions Defense

It’s going to be a challenge for Memphis to generate offense, when they’re playing such an elite defensive front.

Let’s take a look back at week three. Birmingham held Memphis to:

  • 211 yards (most of those came in garbage time)
  • 20 rushing yards
  • 6/14 on third down
  • 3.5 yards per play
  • 8 sacks, 7 TFL

The Stallions have consistently shown up week after week defensively. Given the fact that the Showboats haven’t scored over 20 points in a single game this season, that could spell some serious trouble for Memphis yet again.

Quite simply, the Showboats haven’t proven anything over the past couple of weeks that would make one think they could put up a better fight against Birmingham this week. They are going to have to find a way to dig deep. It’ll be an uphill battle all afternoon long.

Carnell Lake’s Defensive Collapse

Ever since blowing a 16 point lead in one quarter to the San Antonio Brahmas in week two, Carnell Lake’s defense has been a shell of its former self. It’s a shame, considering that Memphis made a late push last year due to this very defensive unit.

After the collapse against San Antonio, it’s been rough sledding. They gave up 33 points to Birmingham in week three, 32 points against St. Louis, and then allowed Michigan to post 35 points against them at home. The Panthers ran for 160 yards and five rushing touchdowns. For a team that prided itself on defense last year, this production, or lack thereof, won’t cut it.

Coaching Matchup

Memphis Showboats | John DeFilippo: It’s been a tough season for John DeFilippo as a head coach. Last year, his Breakers went 7-3. This time around, Memphis is one of the worst teams in the league, and DeFilippo is left trying to figure out where to go from here. Their biggest woes revolve around self-inflicted wounds – something John has to find a way to correct sooner than later with his staff.

Coach DeFilippo commented on this upcoming game, and what needs to happen in order for this team to win:

“We have to protect the passer. That’s the number one thing we have to do. Watching the tape it’s pretty evident that they won the line of scrimmage battle on both sides. That’s going to be the key in this game. We also have to find a way to keep their quarterback in the pocket. Our rush lanes have to be disciplined. If he’s going to beat us throwing the football, then so be it. I don’t want to see us give up 100 or something rushing yards to a quarterback.”

Birmingham Stallions | Skip Holtz: Holtz is very familiar with John DeFilippo, as they’ve faced off four times already in the spring scene. So far, Holtz is 3-1, and has won the last three matchups between these two coaches. With his team on a 12 game winning streak, Holtz will look to get his team to clinch a playoff berth this week.

Final Thoughts

The Memphis Showboats are desperate for something to go their way. While the odds are stacked against them, the team is not looking too far ahead. Instead, they’re zoning in and focusing on the one game that lies ahead. Linebacker T.J. Neal said this week “Why not us?”. That’s the mindset in this locker room, as they face a behemoth of a task of trying to take down the UFL’s best team.

Birmingham has an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth. If St. Louis beats Houston, and if they knock off Memphis this weekend, the Stallions will be headed to the postseason for a third straight year.

The Memphis Showboats will host the Birmingham Stallions this Saturday, at 12pm ET on FOX.

Full Roster Breakdowns: Birmingham, Memphis

What are your thoughts on this upcoming game between the Memphis Showboats and Birmingham Stallions? Which UFL players will impress this time around? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!