Los Angeles Wildcats Week Two Game Notes
A TALE OF TWO HALVES
Saturday's game against the Houston Roughnecks at TDECU Stadium started out hot in the first half for the Wildcats and then came to a screeching halt in the second half. The Wildcats ran 42 plays for 179 passing yards and 57 rushing yards in the first two quarters. In that time, they averaged 5.6 yards per play and obtained 16 first downs. WR Jordan Smallwood (Oklahoma) and QB Charles Kanoff (Princeton) scored two touchdowns in the first half and the pair connected for a two-point conversion. The Wildcats came out of the locker room with the game within reach as they only trailed the Roughnecks 17-18. The Roughnecks scored on their first possession out of the locker room with a pass from P.J. Walker short right to Kahlil Lewis for four yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats looked promising in their first possession with 20 all-purpose yards in the first three plays called. However, the drive sputtered at the Houston 36. Three passes intended for Saeed Blacknall and Smallwood fell incomplete and the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs. Despite an even time of possession in the second half, the Wildcats were unable to score and only added 35 passing yards and an average of 1.8 yards per play. Despite the loss, Smallwood had a banner day in Houston. He tallied the first successful two-point conversion attempt in Wildcats history after Kanoff's quar- terback keeper touchdown in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Smallwood connected again with Kanoff and recorded the first and only receiving touchdown in team history with 9:26 remaining.
FAST FACTS OF WEEK ONE
- DE Shawn Oakman was the lone Wildcat to record a sack in the season opener. He also recorded the only two quarterback hurries of the game.
- WR Nelson Spruce became the first receiver to record a 100+ yard receiving game with 103 yards off of 11 receptions and 15 targets.
- TE Brandon Barnes had the longest catch of the game with a 27-yard reception.
- QB Charles Kanoff is second on the team in rushing with 21 yards off four attempts and one rushing touchdown. RB Elijah Hood leads with 43 yards.
SERIES NOTES: This is the first meeting between the Los Angeles Wildcats (0-1) and the Dallas Renegades (0-1). Both teams are coming off Week One losses and looking for their first XFL win. The Renegades lost 15-9 to the St. Louis Battlehawks at home and the Wildcats lost 17-37 to the Houston Roughnecks on the road. ABC BROADCAST BOX
THE SPRUCE IS LOOSE
If you give WR Nelson Spruce an inch, he'll take a mile and that's exact- ly what he did against the Houston Roughnecks on February 8. Spruce fin- ished the season opener 11 of 15 for 103 yards, with a long of 19 yards. With that 103 yard performance, Spruce is cemented in the record books as the first XFL receiver to surpass the 100 yard plateau. Spruce is no strang- er to setting records. At his most recent stint in spring football -- with the AAF's San Diego Fleet, Spruce set a single-game record with 12 receptions and 146 yards at the Arizona Hotshots on March 24, 2019. Additionally five years after his graduation, Spruce is the Colorado receptions leader (294) and the career leader with 3,347 receiving yards. That is almost 1,000 more than Shay Fields, the closest player to him. Spruce's 294 career receptions stood as a PAC-12 record until Washington State's Gabe Marks (316) in 2016.
The Los Angeles Wildcats have California roots that extend much deeper than just playing in the SoCal sunshine at Dignity Health Sports Park. Exactly 25% of the active roster calls California home. QB Charles Kanoff, S LaDarius Wiley and DT Boogie Roberts all hail from Los Angeles. Additionally, TE De'Quan Hampton, a University of Southern California football alum, is a native of Car- son, Calif. Hampton's family still lives in Carson and their home is just miles away from Dignity Health. Other Southern California natives include LB Willie Mays (Escondido), LS Ryan Navarro (Murrieta), OG Nico Siragusa (Chula Vista) and LB Will Smith (Riverside). In addition to home grown talent, five players on the active roster attended college in California -' QB Josh Johnson (San Di- ego), Siragusa (San Diego State), OT Tyler Roemer (San Diego State), Hampton (USC) and Roberts (San Jose State). The California ties don't end there. Two of the four players on injured reserve grew up in California -' DE Austin Flynn (Wilmington) and USC alum Toa Lobendahn (Cerritos) and P Colton Schmidt attended California-Davis.
RETURN TO HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Wide receiver Jalen Greene, perhaps more than any other Wildcat, has a his- tory of winning in Carson, Calif. As a prep athlete at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., he trained only 13 miles from Dignity Health Sports Park. In 2012, as a dual-threat quarterback, Greene led Serra High School to a 42-15 victory over Oakdale in the Division II CIF State Football Championship Bowl Game at the stadium. WR Marques Rodgers, utility player Adoree' Jackson and Greene combined for 286 of Serra's 389 yards to capture Serra's second and most recent state championship. This championship was one of three that Serra captured in 2012, and as a result they tied a California record for most state championships in a single school year. The championships don't just reside with a high school record. Jalen Greene and current Los Angeles Wildcats teammate LaDarius Wiley (SAF) won a Snoop Youth Football League Championship, also at Dignity Health in 2008, when they were 12 years old. Greene, Wiley and the rest of the roster are looking to continue their winning ways in Carson, Calif. at the home opener on Feb. 16 versus the Dallas Ren- egades.
SPECIALISTS TRAIN TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHER
The Los Angeles Wildcats most veteran group is that of kicker Nick Novak, punter Colton Schmidt and long snapper Ryan Navarro. Between Novak and Schmidt alone, they have 185 games played on six teams. Despite the broad spread in teams, these three specialists are far from strangers. Novak and Schmidt played together for the Birmingham Iron in the now-defunct Alli- ance of American Football, while Navarro played a short distance away for the Memphis Express. The bond of the WIldcat specialists goes further, as all three train with legendary kicker John Carney at the Carney Training Facility in San Diego. Carney, who is regarded as one of the best specialists in NFL history is third on the NFL career scoring list with a career total of 2,044 points. Along with Wildcats specialists, Carney also trains a large number of pros including Lachalan Edwards (NYJ), Younghoe Koo (ATL) and Zach Triner (TAM).
WITH THE FIRST PICK IN THE 2019 XFL DRAFT ...
The XFL Draft took place over two days from October 15-16, 2019 and had five phases of player acquisition. Phase One recruited skill players (QB/WR/ RB/TE), while Phase Two focused on the offensive line. The first day of the draft concluded with Phase Three and drafting of the defensive front seven. Phase Four concluded by drafting players from the defensive backfield. Phase Five was 30 rounds of an open draft for all remaining players. The LA Wildcats drafted the following players in the first four phases of the draft that were position-specific.
- Phase 1 - RB Elijah Hood (1st Round), WR Rashad Ross (2nd), WE Nelson Spruce (3rd), TE Brandon Barnes (4th), RB Larry Rose III (5th), WR KD Cannon (6th), RB Martez Cater (7th), WR Keyarris Garrett (8th), TE Scott Orndoff (9th), WR Donteea Dye (10th)
- Phase 2 - OT Storm Norton (1st Round), OG Fred Lauina (2nd), OT Ryan Pope (3rd), OT Jaelin Robinson (4th), OG Damien Mama (5th), OG Nico Siragusa (6th), OG Ryan Cummings (7th), OT Lene Maiava (8th), OT Tyler Roemer (9th), OT Anthony Morris (10th)
- Phase 3 - DT Anthony "Kimbo" Johnson (1st Round), LB Eric Pinkins (2nd), DT Latarius Brady (3rd), DE Willie Mays (4th), LB Tre' Williams (5th), DT Leon Orr (6th), DT Reggie Howard (7th), DE Corey Vereen (8th), LB Adrian Hubbard (9th), DT Boogie Roberts (10th)
- Phase 4 - S Jack Tocho (1st Round), CB Jaylen Dunlap (2nd), CB C.J. Moore (3rd), CB Roman Tatum (4th), S Jordan Powell (5th), S Ahmad Dixon (6th), S Harlan Miller (7th), S Jerome Couplin III (8th), CB Mike Stevens (9th), S Bryce Cheek (10th)
FOR THE LOVE OF FOOTBALL
Pioneered by Director of Football Operations Sam Schwartzstein,Head of Of- ficiating Dean Blandino and under the guidance of XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck, the XFL launched a set of new rules on January 7, 2020. It all began with a survey of over 6,000 football fans who all said the same thing - they want traditional football, with less idle time. They do not want gimmicks or to be complicit in player injuries. The XFL then consulted current and former NFL coaches including Jim Caldwell, John Fox and Jim Harbaugh. They also con- sulted with sports experts from other leagues including the former president of the WNBA Donna Orender. Lastly, the XFL sought the medical expertise of the likes of Kevin Guskiewicz, a prominent neuroscientist, known for his work with the NFL and the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center. Data analysis then combed through hundreds of foot- ball games to determine the proper gameplay that would lead to an uptempo game. Next, the XFL tested more than 100 possible rules. With the XFL rule announcement, countless hours, conversations with experts and than 100 ideas were refined into 15 total rules changes that avoid gimmicks.
A HABIT YOU'LL NEVER KICK
In college football, kickoffs are only 6% of plays but lead to 21% of concus- sions. To eliminate the safety issues with kickoffs, the NCAA and NFL created more opportunities for touchbacks. The increase in touchbacks naturally leads to fewer returns which means fewer meaningful plays. The XFL's proposed rule change will encourage more kick returns while making the play less dan- gerous by eliminating the 30-yard sprint to collision. The XFL's proposed rule change will encourage more kick returns while making the play less dangerous by eliminating the 30-yard sprint to collision. The kicker kicks from the 25- yard line and must kick the ball in the air and in play between the opponent's 20-yard line and the end zone. The coverage team lines up on the return side 35-yard line and the return team lines up on the 30-yard line. Each team must have exactly 3 players outside the hash marks on both sides of the ball and cannot move until the ball is caught by the returner.
WHY SHOOTOUT OVERTIME?
The newly designed XFL overtime edge-of-you-seat overtime with no coin toss, no one-possession wins and most importantly, no ties. XFL overtime is a shootout and the best players on each team receive five attempts to score from the 5-yard line in a hockey shootout format. Teams alternate attempts (receiving two points per success) until one team's total is insurmountable. NFL overtime can end in a tie and a team's offense may never see the field. Overtime may also take up to 27 minutes to complete in the NFL. XFL over- time allows both teams to play offense, in under 10 minutes, and always has a winner. NFL overtime can end in a tie and a team's offense may never see the field. Overtime may also take up to 27 minutes to complete in the NFL. XFL overtime allows both teams to play offense, in under 10 minutes, and always has a winner.
IT'S ALL IN THE CATCH
To catch a ball in the XFL, a player must secure control of a live ball in flight before the ball touches the ground, touch the ground in bounds with any part of his body, and then maintain control long enough to enable him to perform an act common to the game. By simplifying the rules that establish control of the football, the XFL is creating easier ways for officials to determine when a catch is made. When interviewing over 100 players on their opinion, players often said -A catch is made with your hands, not your feet.-
NOT SO AUTOMATIC ANYMORE ...
An extra-point attempt is as automatic as a snap between center and quar- terback and requires no strategy to bring the point total to seven for each TD. The XFL wanted to change this and decided to create more excitement by replacing a kick with a play from scrimmage. After a TD, the team has the option of running a play from the 2, 5, or 10-yard line, worth 1, 2, or 3 points respectively. The team must run an offensive play and no kicking plays are al- lowed. The 3-point play creates more strategy and innovation for the coaches.
THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND: NORM CHOW
Norm Chow can't walk through a football tailgate without drawing a crowd, especially in Los Angeles. As a first-year head coach at the University of South- ern California, Pete Caroll hired Chow as an Offensive Coordinator in 2001. The connection between head coach, offensive coordinator and players was electric. In 2002, the second year the pair coached together, Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy. Palmer was the first Trojan to win a Heisman since Marcus Allen in 1981. The next year, USC finished 12-1 in the regular season and won their first national title since 1978. In 2004, the magic continued as Chow mentored his second Southern California Heisman in Matt Leinart and the duo won the sixth Heisman trophy in USC history. To sweeten the deal, USC thrashed Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship 55-19.
While Chow's pedigree at USC and stint at UCLA from 2008 to 2010 is well known in Los Angeles, many also recognize him for his tutelage of quarter- backs across the country. Chow has helped coach eight of the top 14 career passing-efficiency leaders and 13 quarterbacks who rank among the top 30 in NCAA history for single-season passing yardage. His coaching lineage includes Steve Young, Philip Rivers, Jim McMahon and Heisman Trophy winner Ty Det- mer. In 1983 under Chow as offensive play-caller, Steve Young finished second in the Heisman vote after racking up 584.2 total yards per game and an NCAA single-season pass completion record (71.3%) at Brigham Young University. In 2000, Chow spent a single but impactful season at North Carolina State as Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach. During that season, Rivers broke seven passing records at NC state and was named ACC Freshman of the Year. That year, NC State won their first bowl game in five years. With the Los Angeles Wildcats, Chow is back in a familiar spot and is perfectly positioned to mentor the quarterback and offensive talent on the team starting with QB Josh Johnson and the starting offensive line made up of OT Storm Norton, OG Fred Lauina, C Patrick Vahe, OG Nico Siragusa and OT Jae Robinson.
• Discuss this story on the XFL message board...
XFL Stories from February 13, 2020
- Los Angeles Wildcats Week Two Game Notes - Los Angeles Wildcats
- Houston Roughnecks Host St. Louis Sunday - Houston Roughnecks
- Houston to Host XFL Championship Game - XFL
- Week 2 Preview: St. Louis BattleHawks at Houston Roughnecks - XFL
- Week 2 Preview: Dallas Renegades at Los Angeles Wildcats - XFL
- Week 2 Preview: Tampa Bay Vipers at Seattle Dragons - XFL
- St. Louis BattleHawks and Lou Fusz Automotive Network Set to Drive into 2020 XFL Season - St. Louis BattleHawks
- Defenders vs. Guardians: 3 Matchups to Watch - XFL
- Ealy: Why I'm Not in the NFL Anymore - Houston Roughnecks
- Inside the XFL - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
- Inside the XFL - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
- Inside the XFL - OSC Original by Fran Stuchbury
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.