Game Preview: San Antonio Brahmas at Houston Roughnecks, Sunday 12 May, 2024

  • San Antonio Brahmas (4-2) at Houston Roughnecks (1-5)
  • Sunday, May 12 at 2:00 PM CT (3:00 PM ET)
  • Rice Stadium, Houston, TX
  • Tickets: Ticketmaster  and Stubhub
  • Network: ESPN (Streaming)
  • Announcers: Mike Monaco (Play-by-Play), Sam Acho (Analyst), Cole Cubelic (Field Analyst), Ian Fitzsimmons (Field Analyst)
  • Odds: San Antonio -3, O/U 39 (DraftKings)

The Houston Roughnecks and the San Antonio Brahmas will meet for the first and only time in the 2024 UFL season. In their previous two games during the 2023 XFL season, Houston won both matches.

San Antonio is playing to solidify their hold on a playoff spot in the XFL Conference. In fact, if the Brahmas win this game and the St. Louis Battlehawks lose to the Birmingham Stallions, their records would be identical at 5-2.

A win by the Houston Roughnecks would keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Depending on how the Michigan Panthers fare in their game, a loss would mean their playoff hopes are even more distant.

What do we know?

San Antonio’s passing attack through the first four weeks of the UFL season had taken center stage, helping the Brahmas to a 3-1 start. In the last two games, it’s been the running game, as San Antonio has rushed for 390 yards in the past two games. Running back John Lovett ran for a UFL record 153 yards on 23 carries against the D.C. Defenders. Against Arlington, Lovett and Morgan Ellison combined for 179 of San Antonio’s 190 rushing yards as the Brahmas defeated the Arlington Renegades, 25-15, at Choctaw Stadium.

In the last two games, Lovett has rushed for 248 yards on 36 carries, with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He had an initial season-high 95 yards and was the first Brahma to rush for two touchdowns in a game against Arlington. He had a season-long 36-yard run in the first quarter against Arlington. Morgan Ellison tallied 84 yards on the ground and picked up the longest run of the season for San Antonio with a 47-yard run in the first quarter against Arlington. He carried five times for 17 yards against D.C., while QB Quinten Dormady had a season-high 30 rushing yards on three carries against the D.C. Defenders.

Quickly through the first six games, San Antonio has one of the top receiving corps in the UFL in WRs Jontre’ Kirklin, Marquez Stevenson, Justin Smith, and TE Cody Latimer. San Antonio is the only team in the UFL to have four players in the Top 20 in total receiving yards. WR Jontre’ Kirklin leads the UFL in receptions (37), ranks fifth in total yards (333), and seventh in receiving touchdowns (2). TE Cody Latimer is fifth in receptions (28) and 12th in receiving yards (230). WR Marquez Stevenson ranks 14th in total receiving yards (208) and seventh in receiving TDs (2). With 195 yards, WR Justin Smith ranks 17th in total receiving yards.

Chase Garbers had been the starting quarterback, completing 75 of 106 passes for 586 yards and six touchdowns. He is out for the year, replaced by Quinten Dormady. Dormady has completed 58 of 93 passes for 512 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions. In the Roughnecks’ previous game against D.C., Dormady did not look strong, but it looks like the Brahmas will start Dormady again this week, giving him a chance to redeem himself. Dormady definitely needs to watch the interceptions and make better decisions out there.

Defensively, San Antonio ranks second in sacks (18), third in scoring defense (17.3 ppg), second in total tackles (410), second in fumbles forced (6), fourth in total defense (273.8 ypg), tied for second in turnovers (8), and fourth in tackles for loss (29). The Brahmas have yielded just eight touchdowns (3 rushing, 5 passing), which is the best in the UFL. Against D.C., San Antonio held the Defenders to 18 points, which included a 54-yard and 58-yard field goal. D.C. went just 3-of-10 on third downs.

On defense, the Brahmas have three of the top five tacklers in the UFL, with the lead flip-flopping amongst teammates each week. Safety Jordan Mosley, who’s led the UFL in tackles much of the season, ranks second in the league with 48 tackles. Inside linebacker Tavante Beckett ranks third in the league with 46 tackles, coming off a season-high 14-tackle performance in the win at Arlington. Inside linebacker Jordan Williams ties Beckett for third place with 46 tackles. He had a team-high 10 tackles at D.C.

San Antonio ranks second in the UFL in team sacks (18.0), adding two more sacks against Arlington and one sack at D.C. The Brahmas had a season-high six-sack performance in the win over Michigan.

The Roughnecks have not had it easy for the last two games, suffering a loss to the Battlehawks in St. Louis last week and then being part of a lopsided loss versus the undefeated Birmingham Stallions the week before.

The Roughnecks are seventh in the UFL in total yards per game. They are seventh in rushing yards per game and sixth in passing yards. The Roughnecks are last in the UFL in points, though. This year, Reid Sinnett has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 947 yards. Sinnett also has four touchdowns and two interceptions, and has run for 34 yards and a score.

Head coach C.J. Johnson has indicated he is looking for changes on offense, and according to the recently released Roughnecks depth chart for this game, they will start Jarrett Guarantano at quarterback. Guarantano was the starter for the Roughnecks in Week 1 and played in two games, completing 19 passes on 29 attempts for 181 yards before being injured. Guarantano also ran twice for 22 yards and a touchdown.

This year’s primary running back for the Roughnecks has been TJ Pledger, who has 54 rushes for 178 yards this year. He has yet to find the end zone this year, though. In the receiving game, Justin Hall has led the way. This year, he has 283 yards and a touchdown on 33 catches. Keke Chism has 207 yards and a score, while Emmanuel Butler rounds out the top receivers with 126 yards and a score. Overall, four different players have touchdown receptions, and five players have over 100 yards receiving this year.

The Roughnecks rank third in the UFL in yards per game. They are third against the run, but fourth against the pass. In terms of points allowed, the Roughnecks are third in the UFL. Ethan Westbrooks has 3.5 sacks, while also having five other tackles for a loss. Meanwhile, Rueben Foster has been solid, with 29 tackles, with three for a loss, while also having three pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Despite nagging injuries, Foster remains on the depth chart for this week’s game.

What should we expect?

With San Antonio looking to solidify their playoff hopes, they will come into this game with vigor. Undoubtedly, the Brahmas smell blood in the water, and they plan to beat down the Roughnecks early and often. However, the Roughnecks are not pushovers. They plan to rule on defense, taking advantage of a struggling Quentin Dormady and forcing the Roughnecks offense to sputter and make bad decisions. Overall, this will be a defensive battle.

Oddsmakers have determined the Brahmas to be 3-point favorites in this game. Despite being on the road, the powerful Brahmas have much to play for and should make it their mission to win over the Roughnecks. A good prediction is for the 3-point spread to be squashed, but the under in the O/U should be respected.

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