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Around the USFL

by Fran Stuchbury
May 11, 2022 - United States Football League (USFL) - Michigan Panthers


This past week the United States Football League announced a rule change to speed up the game. During the first and third quarters the clock will now continue to run following an incomplete pass. Clock stoppage rules remain unchanged in the second and fourth quarters.

Some had concerns the change would lower scores, as theoretically teams will run fewer plays. Instead, the average score ticked up a bit to 39.5 points per game from the previous average of 39.3 points.

Kicking proved a big theme this past week, with the spotlight on the Michigan Panthers who kept a kicker longer than they should have.

With USFL rosters allowing only 38 active players, Michigan Panthers head coach Jeff Fisher has opted to have punter Michael Carrizosa, who did not kick field goals while at San Jose State, handle both kicking and punting responsibilities. Carrizosa's punting acumen has shown through as he has averaged 46.1 yards per attempt, but he has struggled mightily with kicking, going 0-2 on extra points and only one of four on field goals.

Michigan has lost three games by a total of 10 points. The missed kicks have cost the Panthers 11 points, and they have also opted for two-point conversions because of their lack of confidence in Carrizosa's ability to make extra points.

Down 26-25 with time remaining, Fisher opted to let the clock run down to set up a field goal attempt instead of trying to score a touchdown. Carrizosa's chip-shot, 21-yard kick hit the goal post.

This week the Panthers signed Cole Murphy who connected on 71% of his field goal when he played at Syracuse.

As for the Philadelphia Stars, Case Cookus proved effective in his first start, completing 22-30 passes for 190 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Cookus filled in for Bryan Scott who is out with a knee injury.

Elsewhere, the New Jersey Generals improved to 3-1 with a 21-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Maulers. They played a complete game on offense and defense but not with special teams as kicker Nick Rose missed two field goals of 46 and 43 yards. Rose has only connected on three of 10 field goal attempts this season. This week New Jersey released Rose signed Austin Jones who played college football at Alabama.

As for the Pittsburgh Maulers at 0-4, making it to the post season now is a long shot. Pittsburgh signed James Madison quarterback Vad Lee, hoping his mobility can improve the offense.

Throughout last week the Birmingham Stallions had players out due to an illness, yet they held on to defeat the Tampa Bay Bandits 16-10 and improve to a perfect 4-0. The Stallions defense won the game with three sacks and constant putting pressure on Bandits quarterback Jordan Ta'Amu. For the first time this season Birmingham will not play a game on Saturday night. Instead they will take the field Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Stars.

The New Orleans Breakers defeated the Houston Gamblers 23-16. With 16 seconds left in the game, Jonathan Adams caught the game-winning 29-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Sloter. Sloter threw for 414 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Unlike the Panthers and Generals, the Breakers were more aggressive in making a kicking change last week, cutting Austin MacGinnis and signing Taylor Bertolet. That moved paid dividends with Bertolet connecting on thee of four field goal attempts. The one attempt he missed was blocked from beyond 50 yards, and the longest kick he made was from 50 yards.

Despite four turnovers on offense the Breakers found a way to win the game and improve to 3-1, and that's all that matters.

As for the Houston Gamblers, their competitive play belies their 1-3 record. They lead the USFL with a plus-six turnover margin that has kept them in every game. The good news for them is they will play the Pittsburgh Maulers this Sunday.

As it looks now, it is likely one good team in the South Division will end up missing out on the post season. Unlike the Canadian Football League, the USFL doesn't offer a cross-over playoff spot.

Here's every touchdown from Week 4 in the USFL

Ratings

Friday at 10:20 pm est. - Philadelphia Stars - Michigan Panthers on FS1 had 207,000 viewers.

Saturday at 2:30 pm est. - New Jersey Generals - Pittsburgh Mauler game aired on Peacock Premium so no ratings were available.

Saturday at 7 pm est. - Tamp Bay Bandits - Birmingham Stallions on FOX had 1.051 million viewers.

Sunday at 3 pm est. - New Orleans Breakers - Houston Gamblers on NBC had 1.159 million viewers.

WEEK FIVE SCHEDULE

Friday 8 pm est. on USA - Michigan Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits

Saturday 3 pm est. on FOX - New Orleans Breakers vs. New Jersey Generals

Sunday noon est. on NBC - Birmingham Stallions vs. Philadelphia Stars

Sunday 4 pm est. on FOX - Pittsburgh Maulers vs. Houston Gamblers


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United States Football League Stories from May 11, 2022


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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