Breeland Speaks #57 of the Michigan Panthers sacks Jordan Ta'amu #10 of the DC Defenders during the third quarter at Audi Field on May 12, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/UFL/Getty Images)
Breeland Speaks #57 of the Michigan Panthers sacks Jordan Ta’amu #10 of the DC Defenders during the third quarter at Audi Field on May 12, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/UFL/Getty Images)

My “Three up, three down” column appears weekly on UFL Board during the season, taking note of positives or things that are happening often (“up”) as well as negatives or rarities (“down”). 

Up: Undefeated teams

The Birmingham Stallions were expected to get their stiffest challenge yet in their quest for an undefeated season, with the XFL Conference-leading St. Louis Battlehawks paying a visit to Protective Stadium. It was nip-and-tuck the entire way, but as they’ve done all year, the Stallions pulled out the victory to improve to 7-0. Birmingham’s remaining games are against the Houston Roughnecks, San Antonio Brahmas, and Michigan Panthers. It would require any of those teams to play at peak performance to upend the Stallions.

Down: Winless teams

It took until week seven, but every UFL team now has at least one victory to its name (and for three teams, that’s all they have). The Arlington Renegades took out a season’s worth of frustrations on the Memphis Showboats, downing them 47-23. The Renegades rushed for over 100 yards and QB Luis Perez passed for over 300, while the defense had four sacks and four takeaways. This was the type of performance many felt Arlington had been capable of all season. A late season surge catapulted them into the XFL playoffs last year. Even if they grab a couple more wins by the end of the season, the result won’t be the same: Arlington has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Up: Final cut returns

I sent out this fact via Twitter/X about a week ago, but I thought it was worth noting here: About 35% of players released at final cuts have re-signed with their original team or have signed onto the roster of another UFL team. As injuries occur throughout the season, teams have frequently opted to dip back into the pool of players already familiar with their playbook as opposed to going outside the organization to acquire help. It makes sense: Active rosters are smaller, so it’s not like in the NFL where you can hide a guy on special teams while he gets up to speed on the calls. For most teams, anyone on the active roster on gameday will see the field on offense or defense. In a short season with small rosters, that experience is valuable.

Down: Quality challenges

You’d think head coaches would get better at challenging plays as the season wears on. They might know what plays are most likely to be overturned, or have better communication with staff tasked with keeping an eye on replays to see what should be challenged. In week seven, there were some curious decisions made by coaches as to what Dean Blandino or Mike Pereira should take a second look at. While Birmingham succeeded in its challenge, it was on a 1st-and-goal play in the first quarter. The location on the field and time left in the game made it an odd choice to challenge, especially knowing the game was likely to come down to the wire.

St. Louis followed with a bizarre challenge of their own just a quarter later, asking to reverse a pass interference call that seemed pretty clear. They lost that one. Then, on a sack of Jordan Ta’amu, D.C. head coach Reggie Barlow challenged, looking for a roughing the passer call. While the helmets did touch, there was no launching and even on replay it never seemed likely to get overturned. These challenges in some ways speak to the desperation coaches are feeling as the season approaches the finish line.

Up: Lindsey Scott usage

So, what changed for Arlington? What led to them blowing out Memphis? One thing they seemed to do was make a concerted effort to get backup QB Lindsey Scott, Jr. more touches. The dynamic rookie from Incarnate Word has been used sparingly through the first six weeks. Against the Showboats, Scott was brought in for three plays on Arlington’s first drive, ending with a nine-yard touchdown pass to TE Sal Cannella. In total, Scott played 10 offensive snaps, more than any other game this season. With the Renegades now out of the playoff race, we could see more of Scott down the stretch.

Down: QB health

Football teams, be they NCAA, NFL, or UFL, are not immune from quarterback injuries as seasons progress. After week seven, several teams are in desperation mode at the position. D.C. used three quarterbacks in their loss to Michigan, as both Jordan Ta’amu and Deondre Francois exited with injuries. Their opponents, the Michigan Panthers, played their third and fourth QBs of the season in Brian Lewerke and Bryce Perkins. Jarrett Guarantano of Houston and AJ McCarron of St. Louis were both hobbled by the end of their respective games. There isn’t enough high-caliber QB play at this level for teams to go four-deep, making a 10-game season feel just about right. Any more than that and the quality of play in the league could take a serious nosedive.


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