All eyes will be squared away at Landry Jones as he makes his first start of the season for the Dallas Renegades as they take on the LA Wildcats on the road. Philip Nelson filled in for Jones and while he was efficient and accurate, the play calling was conservative with short passes. Head coach Bob Stoops hopes to have a stronger showing from his running game and defense that fell short of high expectations against the St. Louis BattleHawks.
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LA has had a lot happen to them in the past two weeks. They lost their starting quarterback Josh Johnson to injury for week one and most likely week two. Not to mention head coach Winston Moss fired his defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson. Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson became a free agent after he was let go. On top of that, Charles Kanoff hasn’t practiced with his shoulder/thigh injury that might keep him out of the game Sunday.
Keys to the Game
With Landry Jones starting at quarterback, this should open up the offense and allow Hal Humme to be more aggressive. The team will need to pass the ball deeper and often. The running game must improve as Cameron Artis-Payne will have to do better than zero yards rushing. A healthier Jeff Badet and Jazz Ferguson should make the passing game more effective. The offensive line had some issues protecting Nelson as he was sacked four times and open more running lanes for the running backs in the middle of the line.
Defense has to take advantage of a banged up quarterback play. If Kanoff cannot go, Jalan McClendon will take over at quarterback. His athletic ability should make things interesting as the defense struggled against another athletic quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. The issues lie with McClendon fumbling and getting intercepted within a few plays. His inexperience could be an advantage for the Renegades. The front seven allowed almost 200 yards rushing so stopping Elijah Hood will be priority one. Josh Hawkins will be tasked with covering Nelson Spruce.
There’s too many questions in terms of what’s going on with the quarterbacks. Kanoff and McClendon both struggled in the loss to Houston. The offense will be relying on Nelson Spruce to step up and continue making big plays at receiver. The running game shorten out in the second half for the Wildcats. Elijah Hood will need a big game as the passing game could be in need of it. Norm Chow will need to dive deep into the playbook to come up with some creative plays to open up the offense.
The defense got exposed in the secondary for poor pass coverage as PJ Walker threw for four touchdowns. They have another tough task of covering the fastest receiver unit in the league. The secondary will need to play back further and be ready for big plays. Now with Anthony Johnson out of the picture, the front seven took a hit and will need to step up.
He played a key role in last week’s game game as he was the team’s leading rusher and tied for the lead in catches. While he wasn’t listed on the depth chart last week, his speed and athleticism makes him a weapon on offense. He should get more touches this weekend as he proved to be their most efficient runner on the roster.
Nelson Spruce will command most of the attention which could open the door for Jordan Smallwood to have a big game. He already made an impact on last week’s game as he caught a touchdown pass in the game against Houston. Bob Stoops should know a lot about him being a former Oklahoma receiver there. Smallwood has quick speed and is a threat on the outside.
Winston Craig, DL – Thigh, Did not participate
Landry Jones, QB – Knee, Limited participation
Hau’oli Kikaha, LB – Wrist, Limited participation
Saeed Blacknall, WR – Thigh, Did not participate
Chad Kanoff, QB – Shoulder/Head, Did not participate
Dujuan Harris, WR – Ankle, Did not participate
Harlan Miller, CB – Ankle, Did not participate
Jerome Couplin, S – Ankle, Limited participation
Josh Johnson, QB – Thigh, Limited participation
Kahlil McKenzie, C – Ankle, Limited participation
Jack Tocho, CB – Hip, Limited participation
Trevon Sanders, DT – Hand, Limited participation
Tre Williams, LB – Hand, Limited participation
The game comes down to how well Landry Jones can move around with his knee and how soon he can get into a rhythm. It will be important for Winston Moss to bring the heat early to try to rattle the veteran quarterback. The Renegades are filled with so many weapons for Jones to throw it to that Mumme will be dialing up some big plays to hit early. If the Wildcats don’t have a solution figured out at quarterback by kickoff, it could smell for a long day for LA.
Prediction: Dallas 29, LA 15
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.