Sunday features the first game of the existent of the St. Louis BattleHawks and the Dallas Renegades. Both teams will be facing off at the Texas Rangers’ old ball park Globe Life Park in its debut as a football/soccer stadium. There are plenty of storylines with both teams in terms of offensive productivity and who will step up on defense. Let’s examine the top storylines between both teams.
Big Game Bob Stoops is Back
Fans haven’t seen Bob Stoops on the sidelines since the 2016 college football season. It will be odd seeing him coach professional athletics, but he seems to be up to the challenge. The goal of the XFL is to help develop players and Stoops is one of the best at it. He’s got a talented roster around him and built the team on pure speed. He may be rusty at the beginning with his coaching since the rules are different from college, but he shouldn’t lose a beat once he gets used to the flow of the game.
Landry Jones’ Injury Status
The knee injury occurred last month during the first week of training camp and we haven’t seen Landry Jones on the field until this week. He has been wearing a knee brace to protect it from further damage. No starter has been named at quarterback for Sunday’s game yet. He seemed to be moving around well in practice and threw the ball well too. He has been limited for most of the week so his status is still up in the air.
Jordan Ta’amu’s Professional Debut
We saw a glimpse of Jordan Ta’amu during preseason with the Houston Texans that did not end as well. The upside is that he is athletic. He can run for a first when he needs to and has a powerful arm. He may have to rely on his running game in Christine Michael and Matt Jones until he can ease his nerves into the game. There is plenty of upside to the young quarterback. He’ll need time and patience as he could eventually be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league.
Renegades Receivers vs. BattleHawks Secondary
This was one of the most intriguing matchups of training camp seeing the BattleHawks secondary try to stop the Renegades’ speedy receivers. On shorter routes, the Renegades usually had the advantage as receivers like Jeff Badet and Flynn Nagel are so good in open space to create extra yards with their speed. Freddie Martino could have a big day in short routes as well should Jazz Ferguson not be able to recover from his hand injury. When there were deeper routes, the BattleHawks had the advantage. Corners like Darius Hillary, David Rivers, and D’Montre Wade were able to play well in one-on-one coverage. Not to mention whoever plays quarterback for the Renegades will have to go up against Kenny Robinson and Will Hill at the two safety positions.
BattleHawks Will Ground and Pound the Defense
The combination of Christine Michael and Matt Jones should make for an interesting pairing. Michael is a pure power back who will be tough to take down on the initial contact. Jones will have fun running to the outside to utilize his speed. The Renegades’ linebackers will have to step up and make plays. If they are not able to contain the two backs, it could open up the offense for Jordan Ta’amu to sling the ball around the field or create running opportunities for the quarterback.
It really all comes down to two things: can Landry Jones play and can the BattleHawks corners stop the passing game. We all know what the Renegades can be capable of in Hal Mumme’s offense. We know what the secondary of St. Louis can do in man coverage. One or two turnovers can change the outcome of the game. Another injury to the Renegades offense could put them in a lot of trouble. While both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, this will be one of the more exciting games of the weekend.
As a former morning sports anchor at KGNC 710 AM in Amarillo, TX and a former TV news reporter at KFDX in Wichita Falls, TX and KXII in Sherman, TX, I have a passion for all things sports (specifically football and basketball). The new look XFL got my attention as a spring football league that can work. I look forward to writing about all things XFL Dallas and covering it for the upcoming 2020 season.