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Steve Spurrier's Orlando Apollos Lead Alliance at Halfway Mark

by Fran Stuchbury
March 14, 2019 - Alliance of American Football (AAF) - Birmingham Iron

At 5-0, the Orlando Apollos are the team to beat at the halfway point of the Alliance of American Football season.

The Apollos have won their games by an average of 14.4 points. Coached by the legendary Steve Spurrier, Orlando has the best offense in the AAF. The Apollos are averaging a league best 29.8 points per game behind quarterback Garrett Gilbert who has passed for 1,357 yards 8 touchdowns with no interceptions. They have the top wide receiver in the league with Charles Johnson who has 29 receptions for 493 yards and two touchdowns.

Spurrier's offense has also sprinkled in a few trick plays to keep things fun. Right away in week one, quarterback Gilbert caught a five-yard touchdown pass on a trick play similar to the Philadelphia Eagles' play on which quarterback Nick Foles caught one in last year's Super Bowl.

Leading the way for the Orlando defense are Earl Okine with four sacks and linebacker Terence Garvin who has three interceptions, one of them returned for a touchdown.

With three of its five remaining games at home, the Apollos are in a great position to finish with the league's best record. A week seven tilt at an Atlanta Legends team that has turned its season around and a week nine home game against the San Diego Fleet could be the most challenging tests.

It is possible the Apollos could wrap up first place in the Eastern Conference in a couple of weeks so finishing undefeated may not be a big priority.

Some thoughts around the league:

  • After TNT picked up a pair of additional AAF games for broadcast recently, CBS has done the same, shifting a pair of contests from CBS Sports Network onto CBS.

  • Atlanta Legends kicker Younghoe Koo is a perfect 11 for 11 on field goals this season. Two weeks ago, Koo made a game winning 33-yard field goal to defeat Arizona. Last week Koo made a game winning 35-yard field goal to defeat Memphis.

  • The Denver Broncos proposed an NFL rule change similar to a procedure the AAF uses in place of an onside kick. Instead of an onside kick, the Broncos have proposed that team that the scoring team could take the ball on their own 35-yard-line, needing to gain 15 yards to maintain possession, an attempt which could be done once per game. The AAF rule is that when a scoring team trails by 17 or more points or if the scoring team trails by any amount with fewer than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, that team can choose to try to convert a fourth-and-12 play from its own 28.

  • The Birmingham Iron may consider starting Keith Price at quarterback replacing the ineffective Luis Perez. Last week Perez tossed an interception against Orlando that was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Keith Reaser. Price gave the offense some life when he came off the bench and passed for 234 yards and one score. With four of its last five games on the road, the Iron offense must improve if they want to make the playoffs.

  • Aaron Murray completed 27 of 43 passes for 306 yards and one touchdown in Atlanta's victory over Memphis, earning him OurSports Central AAF Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Legends are now 2-3, one game behind Birmingham for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Legends are 2-0 since Murray took over the starting quarterback role.

  • Kameron Kelly intercepted three passes, returning one 22 yards for a touchdown. He also contributed five tackles and four passes defensed in the San Diego Fleet's victory over Salt Lake as he nabbed OurSports Central AAF Defensive Player of the Week honors.

  • The San Diego Fleet is the first AAF team to begin the season 3-0 at home, joining Orlando as the only undefeated teams at home.

  • Salt Lake Stallions defensive end Karter Schult leads the Alliance with five sacks.

  • San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II leads the AAF in rushing yards with 305.

  • After a 2-0 start the Arizona Hotshots appeared to be the team to beat in the Western Division. Now they've lost three games in a row. The offense turned the ball over 5 times in their 29-25 loss to the San Antonio Commanders last week. Things won't get easier for the Hotshots with a trip to undefeated Orlando this week.

  • AAF ratings are in. Saturday the Orlando at Birmingham broadcast on TNT drew 457,000 viewers with a .17 rating, while later in the day Salt Lake at San Diego on NFL Network drew 277,000 viewers with a .09 mark. Sunday's San Antonio at Arizona tilt on NFLN drew 300,000 viewers with a .09 rating. The AAF broadcasts were the highest rated shows on each network for the day.

  • Week-by-week Alliance average margins of victory: Week 1 - 21.25, Week 2 - 6.25, Week 3 - 12.00, Week 4 - 4.00, Week 5 - 6.50

  • The average point total per game jumped from 32 points in week four to 48.5 in week five.

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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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