COLUMN: Birmingham Stallions remain the class of spring football

Kevin Austin Jr. of the Birmingham Stallions celebrates with teammates after catching a pass for a touchdown, (UFL)
Kevin Austin Jr. of the Birmingham Stallions celebrates with teammates after catching a pass for a touchdown, (UFL)

New league. Same Stallions.

That’s been the theme of the first two weeks of the United Football League season. There are only two undefeated teams remaining, and one of them is the two-time USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions. They’ve now won their last nine games, across two leagues.

On Sunday, they bested fellow USFL foes in the Michigan Panthers. The week prior, they were in the spotlight game against the XFL Champion Arlington Renegades. Both games were on the road. This week, they have their first home date of the season – the last team in the UFL to play at home – against the Memphis Showboats.

They’ve reached this point with a balanced offense and defense. Birmingham is first in the league in yards per game (by 45 yards) and first in scoring. On defense, they lead the league in yards per game and scoring as well.

The big caveat here: It’s early. Way early. A lot can transpire over the next eight weeks. The league appears to have achieved the goal of creating parity among the teams to the point that they’re all pretty evenly-matched. Birmingham was tied with Arlington at halftime of game one and squeaked by Michigan by one score in game two. They’re certainly not blowing teams out of the water.

Of all the highlights and statistical wonders achieved by the Stallions the past two-plus season, perhaps none is more impressive than the fact that Birmingham has had all this success by relying on now three different quarterbacks. In 2022, J’Mar Smith led the team to championship glory. In 2023, it was Alex McGough. Now, they’ve got the two-headed monster of Matt Corral and Adrian Martinez at the helm. There’s so much talent in the QB room that Smith has been relegated to a game day inactive as the team’s third quarterback.

Much of the credit goes to their 23 year-old wunderkind of a general manager in Zach Potter and Head Coach Skip Holtz, a veteran college football coach and son of legendary Notre Dame HC Lou Holtz. Skip Holtz, who also runs the offense, has been able to take advantage of the strengths that each of his QBs have brought to the room.

While Birmingham has been cruising so far, there are a few signs of trouble. The QBs have thrown three interceptions in two games and the team has committed 15 penalties, several of them coming in key moments that kept Michigan in the game on Sunday. The red zone offense, which Holtz termed “pitiful” after going 1-6 in that area this weekend, has been a struggle. So far, their talent and depth has allowed them to overcome those errors.

The performance by Birmingham so far is not a surprise: Many pundits picked them to win the UFL Championship in this first year. The team has yet to wilt under that pressure and has lived up to the lofty expectations set from the outside.

There’s no postseason berth for going 2-0, no rings to be handed out for that accomplishment. The work is not finished. Based on their start to the season, however, it does look as if we need to add something else in life that you can always count on:

Death. Taxes. And the Stallions winning.

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