How The UFL Continues To Defy Expectations

As the league heads towards the midpoint of the regular season, several things are becoming clear. The UFL continues to defy expectations with games that bring unanticipated twists and turns.

How The UFL Continues To Defy Expectations

Prepare For The Unexpected

In a desire to make for a more enjoyable fan experience, the league instituted changes from traditional NFL rules that have led to thrilling fourth-quarter finishes. UFL rules make it easier for a team that is trailing in the closing minutes to retain possession following a score and take the lead to change the outcome of the game. During the Houston Roughnecks and Arlington Renegades game on Sunday afternoon, an interesting graphic appeared on the screen to highlight just how close and competitive the games have been this season. 

  • 9/15 games this season were decided by one score.
  • Five games had a lead change in the final minute of play. 
  • Two games were decided by one point.
  • The average margin of victory was 7.5 points. 

Quarterback Shuffle

After a fantastic performance in Week 3 from Birmingham Stallions‘ quarterback Adrian Martinez, it was expected he would start Week 4 against the D.C. Defenders. Instead, Coach Skip Holtz awarded the starting assignment to Matt Corral, the quarterback in Weeks 1 and 2. However, no one can argue the results because Coach Holtz’s quarterback shuffle appears to be working. Corral had a great game passing 19/29 for 240 yards with one touchdown. The Stallions won by a score of 20-18 in the closing seconds of the game with a winning 46-yard field goal by Ramiz Ahmed. 

Plenty of Exciting Action

There were plenty of thrilling plays on both sides of the field this weekend. Landing on his back, San Antonio Brahmas wide receiver Jontre’ Kirklin made an outstanding 43-yard reception amid heavy coverage. Panthers’ running back Wes Hills had a terrific fake punt that almost put them back in the game against the Brahmas. Speaking of running backs, Battleshawks’ running back Jacob Saylors had an amazing game against the Showboats and now leads the league in rushing after posting 103 yards on 15 carries with one touchdown. His longest carry of the day was 57 yards. 

Surprising Outcomes

In the final game of the weekend featuring the Arlington Renegades and Houston Roughnecks, it was widely expected Luis Perez and the Renegades would defeat the Roughnecks. After all, Perez, the MVP from the XFL Championship team last year, was the UFL’s leading passer entering the game with 775 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Reid Sinnett, the Roughnecks quarterback was only making his second start of the season after filling in for the injured Jarrett Guarantano

It was reasonable to assume the Renegades had the edge. Except it didn’t play out that way. The Roughnecks won by a score of 17-9. Sinnett had a solid game passing 18/28 for 191 yards and a touchdown while Perez had his worst game of the season, completing 15/28 for 144 yards with a touchdown and an interception. During the TV broadcast, it was announced Perez was without an interception after 77 completed passes, which as always, proved to be a jinx because Roughnecks corner Kiondre Thomas intercepted Perez a few minutes later and returned the ball 52 yards.

The UFL – A Kicker’s Paradise

With the ability to kick a field goal from long range to secure the win, teams are finding ways to alter the course of a close game. Throughout the season, the UFL kicking has been superb. Heading into this weekend, the league had a streak of 20 straight field goals, with many of those from beyond 50 yards. This past weekend, after nailing a 54-yard field goal, St. Louis Battlehawks kicker, Andre Szymt ended the steak at 20 when he missed a 45-yarder but he made up for it later in the game with a stunning 47-yard kick.

Five of the eight kickers are currently at 100% on the season. D.C. Defenders kicker, Matt McCrane leads the league with a perfect 10/10, and Memphis Showboats kicker, Matt Coghlin is 9/10. Michigan Panthers kicker, Jake Bates is providing a master class on kicking field goals over 60 yards with two to his credit. However, Bates kicked four field goals over 60 yards, since he had to redo both kicks due to a time-out being called.

Taking Advantage of Modern Technology

One of the clear improvements the UFL has demonstrated is the ability to use 4k Tru Line technology to spot the ball. Taking full advantage of available technological resources, human error has been removed in favor of 4K optical tracking cameras. With six cameras located throughout each stadium, the spot of the ball can now be accurately measured in real-time and eliminates any subjective mistakes.

A Birds-eye View of Officiating 

One of the best changes the UFL has instituted is the increased fan access to overhear coaching calls along with full officiating transparency. Fans are afforded a birds-eye view of how penalties are called and confirmed in the Sky Box by the VPs of Officiating, Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira. Fans listen to the rationale behind each decision and hear why calls were made. Better still, with Blandino and Pereira watching from above to carefully review the play itself in slow-motion capture, there is a sense that the officiating errors so common in the NFL have been eliminated.

Fans are afforded access throughout the game with frequent player personnel and head coach interviews. When a big play is made, expect to see the athlete immediately interviewed, often still catching his breath from the play while giving his reaction. In addition, fans listen in on the offensive coaches issuing play calls during the game. Even though the coach might as well be speaking a foreign language given the heavily disguised play sequence, it’s still fun to hear.

Main Image: Chris Day / USA TODAY NETWORK

0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x