Week 1 of the Alliance for American Football has come and gone, and it’s safe to say that America’s football appetite was sated.
The first slate of games, as expected, were a bit up and down in terms of competitiveness, but that makes sense, as the teams have only been together for about 30 days and have only played one game in the pre-season training camp held in San Antonio, Texas.
A number of former Mid-American Conference stars made important contributions in the first weekend for their new professional homes along the way. Fourteen players made the opening day rosters, and a handful of them collected starts or stats aong the way, as we’ll go over here shortly.
San Antonio Commanders vs. San Diego Fleet
QB Logan Woodside (SA)
For getting the starting QB designation two days before the first game of the year, Woodside came out of the tunnel running, both literally and figuratively.
The first play from scrimmage for Woodside was a 22-yard pass to TE Mekale McKay striaght down the middle for a first-down conversion.
It wasn’t the last highlight reel on the night for Woodside, who also found WR Greg Ward Jr. for a 34-yard reception and WR Alonzo Moore for a 46-yard pass to set up the Commaders’ only touchdown of the game.
Woodside deep pass to Moore for 46 yards. pic.twitter.com/n4XvKOvAsC— Duane Lively (Football Dungeon) (@DuaneLively) February 10, 2019
Overall, Woodside struggled in his first professional start, going 18-of-36 for 255 yards and two interceptions on the night. But he showed a lot of promise when the Commanders went vertical and certainly showed great potential to keep the QB1 job, which head cach Mike Riley suggested would be an open competition thoruhgout the season.
OLB Jayrone Elliott (SA)
Elliott wasn’t a starter for the Comanders, but he proved to be an important part of San Antonio’s defense rotation, and did it all from the outside linebacker position, a switch from his usual game. He finished the day with three tackles, a half-sack for a four yard loss and a tackle-for-loss primarily as a pass rush specialist.
CB Jude Adjei-Barimah (SD)
Adjei-Barimah got the start at corner for the Fleet against San Antonio, and proved to be a lockdown option, with Woodside choosing to throw away from Adjei-Barimah throughout the game. He finished with one tackle, one QB hit, and one pass defended.
Orlando Apollos vs. Atlanta Legends
TE Matt Weiser (ORL)
The former Buffalo tight end didn’t make the stat line for Apollos in Week 1 despite the blowout score, perhaps an indication his role will differ than what we're accustomed to seeing. He was primarily used as an extra blocker in multiple tight end sets.
DL Izaah Burks, Sr. (ATL)
Burks made the stat line with one tackle, but is a secondary option on the depth chart for the Legends. It was bad night to be in purple on defense in Week 1, so perhaps he’ll get a chance to shine later on.
OL John Kling IV (ATL)
Kling earned the start at right tackle for the Legends, but it was a rough go, as the offense struggled to get going against a stout Apollos defense, finishing with 244 yards overall (164 yards passing and 80 rushing.)
DL JT Jones (ATL)
The East Atlanta, Georgia native got to start for his (new) hometown team at defensive end, collecting one tackle, one 10-yard sack, one QB hit and one tackle-for-loss in what turned out to be a lopsided loss.
The sack was a pretty good one, too, as Jones overwhelmed the left tackle to get a clear shot at Garrett Gilbert, the Orlando QB, on second-and-11.
Birmingham Iron vs. Memphis Express
OL Kitt O’Brien (BHM)
O’Brien earned the start at left guard for the Iron in their 26-0 shutout of the Memphis Express, plowing the way for Trent Richardson’s first rushing touchdown of the game (look for #79 in the embedded video). The Iron overall played well on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 327 total yards of offense (241 passing, 84 rushing.)
DE Casey Sayles (BHM)
Sayles earned the start at right defensive end and proved to be one of the vocal leaders of an Iron defense that absolutely outclassed the Memphis Express over the duration of the game.
Sayles was a pivotal part of that shutout, penetrating the right side of the line on fourth-and-one from inside the five-yard line to break up an inside run on Memphis’ only red zone appearance of the game. (Sayles is #90 in black on the right side of the screen.)
He finished with three tackles overall on the day.
LB Ike Spearman (BHM)
Spearman was a reserve linebacker, and did not see the field for the Iron, but he is listed as a back-up outside linebacker on the official depth chart.
Arizona Hotshots vs. Salt Lake Stallions
OL Brant Weiss (AZ)
Weiss started at right tackle for the Hotshots, and held his own in what turned out to be a fun, back-and-forth offensive shootout. The Arizona OL finished with only two sacks for four yards allowed and guarding for 416 yards of total offense.
Here he is helping establish the pocket for Arizona’s first points in frnachise history:
RB Joel Bouagnon (SLC)
The former NIU Huskie got the official start for the Stallions after being listed with an “OR” designator alongside fellow MAC back Branden Oliver.
Looking at the workload, it looks as if Bouagnon will be the likely bell cow for the Stallions, as he finished with twice the amount of touches of the secondary back, totalling 16 rushes for 39 yards. Both Bouagnon and Oliver were ultimately affected by Matt Asiata getting goal line carries, as Asiata collected the only rushing TD the Stallions scored on the day.
RB Branden Oliver (SLC)
Oliver, who came in with perhaps the most NFL experience of any MAC alum in the AAF, was a change-of-pace option for the Stallions after being listed as a “OR” option for HB1 prior to the start of the game.
He did a fairly decent job, going for 40 yards on eight attempts and one reception for six yards. He also picked up a two-point attempt in the game, which certainly could help him get more touches down the line.
"If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance, I won't need a third".— UB FOOTBALL VIDEO (@UBFootballVideo) February 11, 2019
Congrats to @BoBelieves and @mweiser89 on their return to the field!#ForeverABull#UBhornsUP#ALL41#MondayMotivation pic.twitter.com/fVHnLRXg6e