The Michigan Panthers played well on both sides of the ball. Quarterback E.J. Perry took what the defense was giving him as he accounted for 268 all-purpose yards. Additionally, the defense played a strong game keeping Houston’s rushing game in check and getting pressure to the Roughneck’s quarterback.

E.J. Perry Demonstrated Good Decision Making and Versatility

Perry was highly efficient completing 16 of his 19 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. He also added 60 rushing yards on 9 rushes and 2 touchdowns.

Visually Perry played this game pretty much perfectly. He made great reads and was accurate. One such example of his good decision-making was on display towards the end of the 1st half when Michigan got the ball with 43 seconds remaining. Perry completed 6 passes in a row, most of which were near the sideline allowing receivers to get out of bounds quickly. 3 of those targets went to Trey Quinn who accounted for 21 of the 38 yards on the drive. In 39 seconds of play clock, Perry captained the offense to get into position for Jake Bates to take a shot at a 55-yard field goal which he made.

Perry did not force passes and did a great job reading when his receivers were being covered well in correlation to seeing opportunities to rush downfield. 

“Every opportunity he could he made the right decisions.” Houston Roughnecks head coach C.J. Johnson said on E.J. Perry’s performance. “Tucking it and ran, threw the ball exactly where it should have been thrown, I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in our league.”

“I think we gotta do a better job containing him.” C.J. Johnson answered when asked what they need to do differently to contain Perry next time they play the Panthers. “I think we got to prepare a different way to rush him. I think he’s an opportunistic quarterback and I think we need to confuse the looks a little bit more instead of being so standard.”

Perry has had 4 rushing touchdowns in weeks 1 and 3 that were all in the same exact endzone. 

“Yeah absolutely,” Perry playfully responded when asked if he was beginning to feel at home in that particular end zone. “I try not to score in the other end zone running and just try to throw it into the other end zone. Hopefully, at the end of the year, we can be successful at that.” 

Marcus Simms’ Touchdown Looked Out of a Video Game

Marcus Simms looked like he was using a cheat code on his 67-yard reception. He caught the ball 4 yards downfield on the right side before making a move to make the first defender miss. 5 Houston Roughnecks hit the floor attempting to tackle him as he ran the remaining 63 yards. It was a jaw-dropping play.

“I’m feeling good. It was really credit to my quarterback E.J. He bought some time and he found me. And once he got me the ball I just made a couple of people miss and got to the end zone.” Marcus Simms spoke of the explosive 67-yard play.

“I think speed is probably my biggest attribute and I just try to use it any way I can.” Simms responded when asked about his ability to make plays based on his speed.

Simms led the Panthers in receiving yards on Sunday catching 4 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. In the previous week, he caught a 76-yard touchdown on a go route.

Clean Sheet in the Sack Department

Pass protection was an issue in week 2 against the Birmingham Stallions as the Panthers allowed 7 sacks. The Panthers’ offensive line showed significant improvement in this area against Houston as they did not allow a sack against Houston.

“I thought the line did a good job. We were 36 carries for 124 yards I think on offense as running the football. That says a lot about it.” Panther’s head coach Mike Nolan answered how he thought the offensive line played. “The line I thought did a great job. Really happy for that to build their confidence.”

Nolan also spoke on why a personnel change was made at tackle with Ryan Pope coming out and Jarrett Horst coming in.

“Pope injured his shoulder so we’ll see. That’s why the change was made. Although Horst is, you know, all along it’s kind of been when are we going to get him in there because he’s a good football player and he did a good job today. Extremely tough individual mentally and physically.”

Jake Bates Remaining Consistent

The Panthers fans have tremendous appreciation for Jake Bates early into his professional career. Every time he comes onto the field he is met with cheers from the stands. He made a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter. To close the first half he attempted a 55-yard field which made it but Houston called a timeout to ice him. He kicked it again and as has been the same for all of his field goals so far this season it sailed down the middle with plenty of distance.

Another Solid Day of Run Defense

The Panthers’ run defense had another great game. In week 2, T.J. Pledger averaged 4.3 yards per carry in against the DC Defenders. On Sunday Michigan’s defense held him to 34 yards on 14 rushes for an average of 2.4 yards. Defensive end Kenny Willekes made a tremendous impact in defending against the run. He was involved in 3 tackles for a loss against Pledger’s rushes including a solo tackle for a loss of 2 yards on his last carry in the fourth quarter.  Additionally, Garrett Marino had a great solo tackle for a loss in the first quarter getting in the backfield quickly for a tackle for a loss of 5. Marino also had a shared tackle with defensive end Breeland Speaks in the third quarter for a loss of 1.

Fans Made an Impact

Despite the attendance being just under 7,000, it sounded like a lot more as the crowd generated a lot of noise at times in support of Michigan’s defense. On Houston’s 2nd drive in the first quarter, the noise was significant as Houston lined up for a 3rd 12. Houston drew back-to-back false start penalties putting them back to 4th and 12 in large part due to the crowd noise.

“First would like to thank the fans. I think there were about 7,000 or so there but they certainly made a lot of noise. I was pleased we were able to give them a reason to make some noise as well.” Panthers’ head coach Mike Nolan said of the fans in attendance.

Solid Game for the Pass Rush

Breeland Speaks and T.J. Carter both had a sack in the game. Additionally, it seemed the Panthers’ defense was getting pressure in the backfield at a good rate. On one such play in the 3rd quarter, Sinnett was sacked with contact to the head, and most of the defender’s weight landed on the quarterback but was missed by the officials and the UFL command center. Regardless 2 plays later the play was again killed by the pass rush as defensive tackle Daniel Wise chased Houston’s backup quarterback out of the pocket who threw the ball away for an incompletion as Reid Sinnett was being looked at by medical staff.

“Yeah they play really well as a team and it’s awesome to see.” Houston quarterback Reid Sinnett answered when asked how the Panthers’ run defense and cover defense played from his perspective. “You know it’s a different type of front than some of the teams that we’ve seen across the league and I have a lot of respect for how they do that. Their front was really good. 57 got you know one of the best shots I’ve had in my career. That was a pretty good one my neck’s gonna be stiff in the morning. You know they’re a good team and they play together and that’s why you know the details are coming out and ultimately they won the game.”

Adonis Alexander Impressed

Cornerback Adonis Alexander saw his playtime increase as the game went on and there were a few plays in which he was targetted and did a good job defending against the pass. He made a good defensive play in the 4th quarter making a big hit to generate a 2-yard loss on a run play by Pledger and keep him out of the end zone.

Saiosi Mariner Looked Good In a Panthers Jersey

Wide Receiver Saiosi Mariner played his first game as a Michigan Panther and made a nice play recording a catch for 25 yards as well as a 2-point conversion catch in the third quarter. On the 25-yard play, he broke a tackle and made another player miss with a spin move. On another 2-point conversion attempt, he was targetted and made an impressive one-handed catch although he was forced out of bounds on the play. After the game, Mariner spent some time greeting fans.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink
Jonathan Clink will work as UFL News Hub's primary correspondent covering the Michigan Panthers for the 2024. He has written over 250 articles covering the Canadian Football League prior to joining UFL News Hub. Clink is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has a background in several other sports as well having played soccer, basketball, and hockey competitively.

1 Comment

  • Posted April 15, 2024 9:28 pm 0Likes
    by Shimmy

    Being my favorite team, that even goes back to 1983, love the Panthers, with” what I consider” the best color scheme, uniform design, helmet design, of any level of football ever. Improving each week, taking it on the road for the first time. Good luck Panthers, come on Detroit can you give them better support for the next home game thank you go UFL

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