Parks’s Pulse – On Peezy, roster relief, and regional action

Fox sideline reporter Devin Gardner had a little fun with Phillips by asking him what he had for breakfast (FOX)
Fox sideline reporter Devin Gardner had a little fun with Phillips by asking him what he had for breakfast (FOX)

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

Ranking the games

  1. Stallions 20, Defenders 18 (first half only) – D.C. had Birmingham on the ropes, but couldn’t capitalize on Stallion mistakes. They also made too many of their own.
  2. Battlehawks 32, Showboats 17 – The St. Louis offense continues to hum along. Memphis was in it until the fourth quarter.
  3. Brahmas 19, Panthers 9 (second half only) – Quinten Dormady led an up-and-down effort on offense in his first start of the season for San Antonio. Their defense ate up the Michigan offense.
  4. Roughnecks 17, Renegades 9 – Fascinating for all the wrong reasons. Arlington couldn’t get our of their own way. Houston finally showed signs of life.

Return of Peezy

Jahcour Pearson made his long-awaited Battlehawks debut this weekend after the heralded receiver returned from a training camp injury. St. Louis got him involved right away, targeting him three times on their first offensive drive. In all, he led the team with 10 targets, catching all 10 for 70 yards. Pearson did that while playing in just under half of the total offensive snaps. As potent as the Battlehawks’ offense has been this year, Pearson gives them a different kind of weapon that can threaten defenses both horizontally and vertically.

All-access moment of the week, part one

Memphis RB Darius Victor is like a bowling ball when he gets a head of steam toward the line of scrimmage. His body type and running style make it difficult for defenders to wrap him up and take him to the ground. When asked by a sideline reporter to give his philosophy for running the ball, Victor replied, “Don’t let the first person tackle you. I feel like that’s against my religion.” With that mentality, it’s no wonder he’s found the success he has in spring football.

Roster relief

The UFL hasn’t exactly been transparent about roster operations, and that came into play last week. With QB Jarrett Guarantano hurt, Houston was allowed to add Kenji Bahar without making a corresponding move, thus carrying 52 players on their 51-man roster. I reached out to Houston PR about this and was told, “Since Guarantano did not qualify for IR, they (Houston) were given roster relief for one game in order to have three QBs in uniform.”

Indeed, Houston was back down to 51 for week four. Then, in the lead-up to this last weekend, two kickers went down to injury in Birmingham and Arlington. Roster relief was granted once again to afford the teams to add kickers without having to release anyone. On one hand, with already limited game day rosters, forcing a team to release a positional player to add a kicker or QB would further stress those remaining active players. On the other hand, adjusting rosters is part of the science associated with running a team and some of that intrigue is lost when this level of flexibility is allowed. It also opens the league to questions about roster manipulation by teams, what positions should be given relief, how serious an injury has to be to qualify, etc. Don’t expect those questions to be answered publicly anytime soon.

Regional action begins

It was a fortuitous start to the UFL’s regional slate of games. Those, like myself, who were offered D.C. vs. Birmingham, were faced with a lengthy weather delay beginning just prior to halftime. Had this been the only game in the timeslot, it would’ve been a disaster for viewership numbers. Luckily, the network could transition to the other game, San Antonio vs. Michigan. D.C. vs. Birmingham didn’t resume until after San Antonio vs. Michigan, and could only be seen on Fox in those local markets. The UFL continues its regional slate this coming weekend, and has one more in week nine.

Wade Phillips vs. sideline reporters

Brahmas head coach Wade Phillips appeared annoyed when ESPN sideline reporter Cole Cubelic asked him about his decision to kick off as opposed to go for 4th-and-12 late in last weekend’s game against St. Louis. In the week that followed, Phillips took to Twitter to call Cubelic’s query a “stupid question” and followed it up by writing that he didn’t appreciate being “second guessed” in the moment. At halftime of the game against Michigan, Fox sideline reporter Devin Gardner had a little fun with Phillips by asking him what he had for breakfast and questioning his choice of eggs, saying “I’m just a TV guy.” It got a belly laugh out of Phillips, who appeared to understand the reference (though it seemed like Gardner was fishing for Phillips to call it a “stupid question”). Rusty Tillman vs. Jesse Ventura this is not, but hey, getting a little fire up in the heat of the moment makes for good television.

All-access moment of the week, part two

Down 10-9 at the half, the 2-1 Michigan Panthers were in a dogfight with the 2-1 San Antonio Brahmas. The loser would fall to 2-2 and, for the Panthers, would risk falling two games behind the USFL Conference leading Stallions. QB E.J. Perry’s impassioned speech to his teammates in the locker room before the second half was caught on camera. “They’re not beating us! They’re not!” he shouted. Unfortunately for Michigan, their first drive out of halftime stalled at the San Antonio 45-yard line and they were never able to overtake the Brahmas. Perry suffered a third quarter injury that took him out for the rest of the game, and will cause him to miss some action.

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