Parks’s Pulse – On close games, sideline dances, and double forward passes

Memphis Showboats defensive line coach Antoine Smith implored his players to make a play. UFL Week 10 (FOX)
Memphis Showboats defensive line coach Antoine Smith implored his players to make a play in a game against the Houston Roughnecks. (FOX)

Each week during the season, Parks’s Pulse presents a smattering of thoughts on the previous weekend’s games.

Ranking the games

  1. Stallions 20, Panthers 19 – It certainly didn’t feel like neither team had much to play for. A last-second missed field goal was the difference. Was it enough to give Michigan players confidence they can pull off the upset in the playoffs?
  2. Renegades 32, Defenders 31 – The only game with nothing really on the line this week predictably turned into somewhat of a shootout. If this was the last hurrah for Arlington head coach Bob Stoops and QB Luis Perez, they went out on top.
  3. Battlehawks 13, Brahmas 12 – This was a nothin’ happenin’ game for the first quarter and a half. It closed strong down the stretch for the only game with something legitimate on the line, that being home field advantage in the conference championship.
  4. Showboats 19, Roughnecks 12 – And so, Memphis “earns” the number one pick in the UFL Draft for 2025. Both teams have a lot of work to do in the off-season to become competitive next year.

Born a Chamblin man

Much has been made the last few weeks about Birmingham defensive coordinator John Chavis stepping away from the team. In his place, defensive backs coach Corey Chamblin has taken over play calling duties. With a spot now open on the defensive staff, the Stallions hired Anthony Blevins as a defensive assistant. Blevins, you may recall, was hired by the XFL to replace Rod Woodson as head coach of the Vegas Vipers prior to the merger and dissolution of that franchise. Blevins reportedly was kept under contract and will be considered for a head coaching job should one open up in the UFL this off-season. He steps in to take over Chamblin’s gameday responsibilities, which are ensuring the correct sub packages are in the game. Chamblin has big shoes to fill, but he’s not a coaching novice: He brings defensive coordinator and head coach experience from the CFL to Birmingham.

All access moment of the week, part one

It took almost the entire season, but the the networks finally wised up and put a mic on Stallions center Cole Schneider. Schneider’s personality has been evident in sideline interviews and in his wardrobe. It shined through again during the game against the Panthers. In the middle of a scrum between the two teams, Schneider tried to play peacemaker, somewhat comically, telling the two sides to “hug this shit out, hug this shit out.” Then later, after a play, he was on the receiving end of a shove from Michigan DT Garrett Marino. “Bro…you’re being a meanie,” Schneider told him. Schneider’s influence goes beyond the field, as the end zone at Protective Stadium was once again filled with shirtless dudes, taking their cue from their favorite offensive lineman. Schneider took photos with them after the game…sans his own shirt, of course.

Close games reign

The UFL couldn’t have asked for better drama to close out the regular season. Three of the four games were one-point affairs, with two coming down to last-second field goal attempts. The fourth was a one-score game. In all, the four games combined to be decided by a total of 10 points. The UFL would’ve probably preferred to have more on the line in these games, like playoff spots for example, but it’s a good sign heading into the playoffs that the two games featuring what will be rematches next weekend were so closely-contested. For the rest, the off-season work begins to close the gap between them and the teams atop their respective conferences.

Sideline dance

When Chase Garbers went down, apparently re-aggravating his previous wrist injury, Quinten Dormady once again stepped in to replace him. The problem was, San Antonio had not provided Dormady with an audio receiver in his helmet. Teams are given a certain amount of devices to place in offensive player helmets, and it’s up to each team as to how they’re divvied out. Because Dormady did not have one, he could not get the play call in his ear from offensive coordinator AJ Smith. This forced him to the sidelines to get the info after every play, wearing him out and not allowing much time for the team to make any changes at the line of scrimmage. It may not be THE reason San Antonio lost to St. Louis, but you have to imagine it certainly didn’t help their offensive process.

All-access moment of the week, part two

Memphis’s struggles on defense this year have been well-documented. They’ve given up the most yards per game and the most points per game in the UFL. Their rush defense finished seventh out of eight teams. Frustration has built, but the coaching never stopped. During a timeout near the end of the first half against Houston, when the Roughnecks were finding success on the ground, defensive line coach Antoine Smith implored his players to make a play. “Nobody runs the ball through the middle of the defense like that! Guys all set?!? Did you get the call?!? Get a stop!!” he shouted. The Showboats held the Roughnecks to just 80 yards and 4.0 yards per carry, about 30 yards under the average rushing yards per game Memphis gives up. It was too little, too late, but it had to please Smith and the defensive staff to see the team continue to play hard up until the final whistle.

Double forward pass done in DC

The double forward pass has become as rare as spotting Bigfoot. Teams simply haven’t utilized the ability to run such a play. In fact, we’ve only seen it a few times since the rule was implemented in XFL 2020, then carried over to 2023 and into the UFL this season. San Antonio ran a double pass against Birmingham in week nine, but the first pass was backward, not forward. Finally, in week 10, we saw it, but it may not have been drawn up as one. On the play, Defenders TE Briley Moore-McKinney went out for a backside screen. He caught the pass behind the line of scrimmage with Renegades CB Ajene Harris bearing down on him. Had Moore-McKinney allowed himself to get tackled, it would’ve been for about a 10-yard loss. Instead, he thought quickly and passed it a second time, to RB Darius Hagans, who was standing near the line of scrimmage. Hagans took the pass and scampered for a first down. It was quick thinking by Moore-McKinney to turn a negative into a positive, and to go in the record books with the first double forward pass in the history of the UFL.

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