New Jersey Generals vs Birmingham Stallions Prediction and Preview (USFL Football) – AthlonSports.com
Saturday evening, the last interpretation of the USFL will return to action after a 37-year absence in front of a national television audience. The New Jersey Generals will face off against their hometown Birmingham Stallions at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama. The USFL will play all of its games in Birmingham as the league seeks to establish itself financially with the backing of FOX, which has invested $200 million to revive the league.
Related: What you need to know about the USFL
New Jersey appears to be a bubble playoff team under head coach Mike Riley, who served as the Seattle Dragons’ last offensive coordinator in the short-lived XFL. Luis Perez is the Generals starting quarterback and will look to leverage his experience in the AAF and XFL and try to provide quarterback stability. De’Andre Johnson is a potential starter this week at quarterback and, if he plays, will provide a quality dual-threat option for this offense. Mike Weber is the leading running back, and he’ll have something to prove in his quest to find his way back to the NFL after winning a Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs in 2020. So look to emphasize the attack right out of the gate with the generals.
Skip Holtz is Birmingham’s head coach, and he’s a veteran of the college football coaching scene, with his last stop as head coach at Louisiana Tech (2013-21). Holtz will rely on Alex McGough as the starting quarterback to revive the Stallions offense and fire up the home crowd. McGough has spent time on some NFL rosters with teams like the Seattle Seahawks, but is still looking to break through in a big way. Scooby Wright is the star defenseman at linebacker who won multiple national awards during his 2014 junior year at Arizona. Wright spent time in the NFL but was never able to replicate the success he had in Tucson.
New Jersey to Birmingham
To start up: Sat., April 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Or: Protective Stadium (Birmingham, Alabama)
Spread: Stallions -1.5
Scroll to continue
Three things to watch out for
1. New Jersey Offense
Consistency will be the key to victory for the Generals offense, as this unit must stick to schedule and avoid negative plays. When Riley’s teams have had success at any level, it’s been a combination of football management and wise decision-making by the quarterback. The offensive line and his ability to control the line of scrimmage will be key as it will take the pressure off Perez when he steps back. Also, look for Weber to get around 20 carries, and if he can go close to 100 yards, that would be a plus for the offense. Perez needs to take care of the football and find his open receivers to keep the chains moving on offense. Another thing to watch is how often they use the two forward passes behind the line of scrimmage on offense that are allowed by the USFL’s unique rule changes. It’s a way for Riley to draw something creative to get the ball to former TCU wide receiver Kavontae Turpin, who could be electric in open space.
Related: What you need to know about USFL rule changes
2. Birmingham offense
It will be fun to watch Holtz make the transition to the new league/rules as he will also take on the duties of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for his studs. Holtz has a potentially explosive weapon in wide receiver Victor Bolden Jr., so look for the head coach to let McGough air it early to get Bolden involved right away. Bolden spent two years in the NFL as a three-team returner after playing at Oregon State. Third down is another key to attacking success for the Stallions this week, where the running game could be called upon to help keep the attack on the pitch.
3. New Jersey Defense
Chris Orr enters the USFL as one of the league’s top linebackers after starting out for three years at Wisconsin and earning second-team All-Big Ten recognition as a senior in 2019. However, the This defense’s best player would have to be De’Vante Bausby, who played for Riley with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF. Bausby has a knack for causing problems for opposing quarterbacks, as evidenced by his four interceptions in the AAF’s only brief season. Winning the turnover battle would really put the Generals in a good position to start their season on the right foot.
There will be a feeling process for both teams from the start. The big key is to survive these problems and start the game in the second half with a chance to win. Expect this contest to hang in the balance heading into the fourth quarter, but in the end, the combination of timely passes from McGough and the home crowd eventually propelled Birmingham to victory as the USFL begin their season.
Prediction: Stallions 26, Generals 17
– Written by Scott Whittum, part of the Contributor Network.