During the San Antonio Brahmas inaugural season during the 2023 XFL season, the Brahmas struggled on offense, which played a significant role in the Brahmas 3-7 record. Despite those offensive struggles, the Brahmas found themselves in a position to make the XFL playoffs but came up just short. In 2023, the Brahmas were led by first-time head coach Hines Ward, and coming into the season; Ward had established that his goal was for the Brahmas to have the best offense, defense, and special teams in the XFL.

Under Ward’s leadership, the Brahmas established a solid defense that allowed them to stay in games against some of the better teams in the XFL. The Brahmas also had solid special teams units led by Brad Wing, the top punter in the XFL, and John Parker Romo, a kicker who has recently been signed by the Minnesota Vikings. The ability to play well on defense and special teams put the spotlight on the Brahmas’ offense.

Ultimately, the Brahmas’ lack of offensive production seems to have ended Ward’s era as head coach as the Brahmas prepared to move onto the UFL as part of the XFL-USFL merger that created the UFL. With Ward leaving the Brahmas, the door was open for a new head coach, Wade Phillips, to pick up where Ward left off and help the Brahmas have a chance to be an improved team in an improved league.

When Brahmas head coach Wade Phillips became the new head coach, he brought many of his assistant coaches with him from his time as the head coach of the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL. One of the most important assistant coaches joining Phillips was Roughnecks offensive coordinator AJ Smith.

Smith has recently succeeded in spring football leagues, including The Spring League and the XFL. The young offensive coordinator has worked with many of the most offensive coaches in recent history, including Hal Mumme, June Jones, and Noel Mazzone, to develop a pass-heavy offense that has produced impressive results. In 2023, Smith worked with Wade Phillips in Houston, and with Smith’s system, the Roughnecks had one of the most effective offenses in the XFL.

Three significant areas of concern prevented the 2023 Brahmas from having an effective offense. Those areas were pass protection, turnovers, and getting behind in the chains on early downs. These areas are where Smith will need to focus to help the Brahmas turn around their woes on offense. In addition to addressing those areas, the Brahmas completely overhauled their offensive personnel heading into training camp. So, for Smith, the goal is to teach his new players his offensive scheme and fix the areas that have led to struggles for the Brahmas on offense.

Rebuilding The Offensive Line

During the UFL player allocation process, the Brahmas made several moves to upgrade their offensive line. Specifically, they decided to add a group of offensive linemen that Smith and Phillips already had experience with from the Houston Roughnecks. With the additions of Alex Mollette, Rashaad Coward, and John Yarbrough, the Brahmas not only upgraded their offensive line personnel, but all three players brought experience working with Smith and his scheme on offense.

Finding Playmakers at Quarterback

In addition to rebuilding the offensive line, Smith also has three quarterbacks who are new to the Brahmas and new to working with Smith on offense. The quarterbacks that the Brahmas brought into training camp are former Orlando Guardians quarterback Quintin Dormady, former Las Vegas Raiders practice squad quarterback Chase Garbers, and Tom Flacco, the brother of former Super Bowl champion quarterback Joe Flacco.

During training camp, Smith worked to prepare his quarterbacks both on and off the field. Early in training camp, Smith made headlines in San Antonio using a VR system to help speed up his quarterback’s understanding of his playbook and decision-making. Dormady, the Brahma’s first pick in the UFL Super Dispersal draft in January 2024, will likely be the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season. How well Smith can prepare his quarterbacks to lead his offense will determine the Brahmas’ ceiling in 2024.

Depth at Running Back

The running back position is another area in which the Brahmas have made changes. John Lovett, formerly of the Vegas Vipers, Brycen Alleyne, formerly of the Houston Roughnecks, and Anthony McFarland, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, are the front runners to join Dormady in the offensive backfield. Alleyne is a multi-threat athlete expected to contribute as a ball carrier and a potential pass threat in space. Lovett is similar to Alleyne but tends to be a more physical runner and expects to carry the load for the Brahmas in the Red Zone and during goal-line opportunities.

Potential Playmakers at the Receiver Positions

The most significant area of concern for the Brahmas offense will be which players will be the playmakers in the passing game for Smith’s pass-heavy offense. Similar to the other offensive positions, several new faces are playing receiver for the Brahmas. The most notable receivers are tight ends Cody Latimer and Alize Mack.

During the 2023 XFL season, Latimer was the top tight end in the XFL, and Mack was the third tight end while playing for the Brahmas. Both tight ends project to be significant playmakers for the Brahmas in 2024. Outside of those tight ends, the Brahmas have many receiver prospects with potential but have yet to be top players in spring football.

For the Brahma’s passing offense to thrive, they must have a solid group of players to stand out. TJ Vasher was an effective wide receiver for the Brahmas in 2023, and KD Cannon joined the Brahmas after playing with Dormady and Latimer in Orlando. Jontre Kirklin is also a top candidate to become a breakout player for the Brahmas after spending the 2023 season with Smith in Houston.

As the end of training camp nears, and the Brahma’s first game is at home against the DC Defenders, we will find out early in the 2024 season if Smith can successfully turn the Brahmas once struggling offense into a scoring machine in the UFL.

Follow me on X: @AaronSauter7

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author avatar
Aaron Sauter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.

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