Around the USFL

by Fran Stuchbury
June 8, 2022 - United States Football League (USFL) - Philadelphia Stars

Week eight of United States Football League action saw the best performance by any quarterback so far this season courtesy of Case Cookus, once the backup with the Philadelphia Stars. Cookus completed 20 of 26 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns, and added 118 rushing yards and another score in the Stars' 46-24 victory over the Michigan Panthers. He finished strong with a 51-yeard scoring bomb and 79-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter in the victory which locked up a playoff berth for Philadelphia.

Cookus took over in week three after Bryan Scott suffered a knee injury. Scott is now officially out for the remainder of the season. The Stars' fortunes appear to be in solid hands as Cookus has improved significantly during the team's three-game winning streak.

Philadelphia's offense has been on fire, averaging 38.6 points per game during the last three weeks, and a once-moribund running game has averaged 179 yards per game during their winning streak. Matt Colburn II started the charge in their week 6 victory over Tampa Bay in which he carried the ball 18 times for 140 yards with three rushing touchdowns.

The Stars running game has helped set up play action passing by Cookus who spreads the ball around. Last week seven players caught at least one pass.

The defense has also helped during this winning streak by creating nine turnovers: five fumbles and four interceptions. Defensive back Channing Stribling contributed two of those interceptions, and he leads the league with six picks.

With the Stars locking up a playoff spot, backup quarterback K.J. Costello may get some playing time if the Stars rest some starters.

With both playoff invitations issued in the North, one last postseason spot has yet to be claimed in the South Division.

The Tampa Bay Bandits must win their final two games to clinch a spot: this week against the New Orleans Breakers and next against the Birmingham Stallions. If New Orleans defeats Tampa Bay this week the Breakers clinch the final postseason berth.


The USFL broke down its February draft by specific positions, with running backs selected in the 27th and 28th rounds.

The first runner taken was B.J. Emmons who has gained 222 yards with one rushing touchdown and 97 receiving yards for the Tampa Bay Bandits. Philadelphia tabbed Darnell Holland with the next selection, and he has 136 rushing rushing yards, two touchdowns and 26 receiving yards. Garrett Groshek, the final selection of the 27th round by Pittsburgh, leads all the initial running back choices with 281 rushing yards, one touchdown and 47 yards receiving.

Three of the eight players taken in the round did not make their respective teams.

USFL teams have benefitted from far more productive seasons from the second round of running back selections.

Backs taken in that round started with C.J. Marable by the Birmingham Stallions (284 rushing yards, 97 receiving yards, one touchdown), then moved to the Houston Gamblers' Mark Thompson by, who is fourth in the USFL with 469 yards, two touchdowns, 19 receiving yards and two scoring catches. The next pick, New Orleans' Jordan Ellis sits second in the USFL with 519 yards plus 55 receiving yards. Just behind him in the league rankings is the Michigan Panthers' Reggie Corbin with 514 yards and 65 receiving yards. Also contributing are the New Jersey Generals' Trey Williams, now fifth in the USFL with 403 yards, one score and 119 receiving yards; Philadelphia's Matt Colburn II with 321 yards, six touchdowns, plus 121 receiving yards and one touchdown; and Tampa Bay's Juwan Washington with 280 yards, three touchdowns and 59 receiving yards.

New Jersey selected league rushing leader Darius Victor in the sixth round of the March 10 supplemental draft.

The lone player taken in the 28th round who did not land on a roster was De'Veon Smith of the Pittsburgh Maulers. The reason he was cut went viral.

The USFL decided to create a behind-the-scenes look at life in the league called "United By Football," a type of "Hard Knocks" show for the USFL. The series' first episode spotlighted Maulers Head Coach Kirby Wilson telling Smith he was cut by the team because of a lack of respect shown to unnamed staff. Smith's apparent offense? Asking for pizza instead of chicken salad.

Smith had plenty of success in other football leagues. With the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football he contributed 345 yards and six touchdowns, ranking sixth in the league. With the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers in 2020, Smith led the league in rushing with 365 yards in five games.

Top plays from USFL's Week 8:

Every Touchdown From Week 9:


Friday 8 pm est. on USA - Pittsburgh Maulers vs. New Jersey Generals - 208,000 viewers

Saturday 3 pm est. on FOX - New Orleans Breakers vs. Birmingham Stallions - 625,000 viewers

Sunday noon est. on FOX - Michigan Panthers vs. Philadelphia Stars - 773,000 viewers. That game went up against the World Cup Qualifier between Ukraine and Wales on ESPN which drew 667,000 viewers.

Sunday 4 pm est. on Peacock - Houston Gamblers vs. Tampa Bay Bandits game on aired on Peacock Premium so no ratings were available.


Saturday 1 pm est. on NBC - New Jersey Generals vs. Michigan Panthers

Saturday 6 pm est. on USA - Houston Gamblers vs. Birmingham Stallions

Sunday 4 pm est. on FOX - Tampa Bay Bandits vs. New Orleans Breakers

Sunday 7:30 pm est. on FS1 - Philadelphia Stars vs. Pittsburgh Maulers

• Discuss this story on the United States Football League message board...

United States Football League Stories from June 8, 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.

OurSports Central