USFL South: Every team’s key takeaway from Week 1 and what to expect for Week 2

After another successful kickoff, the USFL is now underway after playing their first four games last weekend on April 15th and 16th. With big plays and big surprises from week one, it’s safe to say we will have a fun season ahead of us.

Here are our key takeaways from each team in the South Division and what to expect from them going forward into week two of the 2023 USFL season.

 Birmingham Stallions (1-0)

The reigning USFL champions put on a show last weekend as they had the biggest victory of the week after defeating the New Jersey Generals 27-10.

Birmingham showed us why they will continue to be one of the top competitors in the USFL. From top to bottom, the Stallions looked like the league’s best team last week. On offense, they have a great mixture of playmakers all led by the versatile J’Mar Smith.

On defense, they were able to fly all around the field making plays and forcing two big turnovers, including one on the opening drive of the game. Week 2, the Stallions will play against the newly branded Memphis Showboats. It could be a tough game for them, but if they continue to play great “team football” they will have no issues starting 2-0.

New Orleans Breakers (1-0)

New Orleans was taken over by a new face in John DeFilippo in the offseason. Not only did the Breakers get a new head coach, but they all also saw a huge position change at the QB position with CFL veteran and 2022 Grey Cup winning quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson taking over.

Week 1 saw New Orleans get a victory against the Pittsburgh Maulers by a score of 22-15. It’s safe to say that the Bethel-Thompson move is going to pay to advertise. The Breakers will get plenty of use out of their new QBs arm as he threw a whopping 41 times for 303 yards to start the season.

Given that Bethel-Thompson is the oldest starting QB in the league, it will be important for them to not overuse him. But, if he is able to keep throwing at this rate all season, look for New Orleans offensive identity to thrive through the air. The Breakers have a great chance to start 2-0 as they face the Houston Gamblers in Week 2.

 Memphis Showboats (0-1)

Last week, the Showboats had one of the tougher tests as they faced the USFL championship runner-up Philadelphia Stars. Coming down to the wire, Memphis would lose a close one with a final score of 27-23.

After the 2022 season, Memphis left their old city and old name (Tampa Bay Bandits) behind. Most importantly, the Showboats also lost their very talented QB Jordan Ta’amu to the XFL. With Brady White taking over as the new starting QB, not many were sure how the Showboats would perform.

Saying that Memphis and White were able to put up a tough contest against the Stars in Week 1, they should be fine moving forward. One of their keys to success comes in making sure to feed their workhorse running back Alex Collins. The Showboats do face another difficult test in Week 2 as they face the reigning champion Birmingham Stallions.

Houston Gamblers (0-1)

All things considered, Houston actually started off very strong in their Week 1 matchup against the Michigan Panthers. Heading to the second half the Gamblers were going in with a 13-9 lead after riding on two touchdowns from running back T.J. Pledger.

However, after the promising start, sloppy play would catch up with them and completely stall Houston in the second half as they would get shut out. It’s very hard to try and keep a lead when you have three second half turnovers and the Gamblers would get 20 unanswered points scored on them in the 29-13 loss.

Houston still has plenty of positives to look at from their opening game. Running back T.J. Pledger looks to be what makes this offense move along, so continuing to heavily involve him will be key to their success. Their biggest concern should be limiting turnovers as it completely stunted their momentum, turning the ball over three times. The Gamblers will face the New Orleans Breakers in Week 2.

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a