The Memphis Showboats season ended the way it began, with a decisive 19-12 victory over the Houston Roughnecks. This win was their most complete game all season with both the offense and the defense fired up and ready to play. It was obvious from the beginning, there was a different energy to last night’s game.

Getting his first start, quarterback Josh Love looked confident and in control. He had a solid game passing 20/29 for 152 yards and another four rushing yards on four carries. Love also had luck on his side when an interception picked off by Markel Roby was negated by a penalty call.

Darius Victor had his best outing of the season with two rushing touchdowns on 10 carries for 54 yards. Jonathan Adams had six receptions for 59 yards. Kicker Matthew Coghlin was perfect with two field goals from 46 yards and 29 yards.

The defense, led by Lamont McPhatter and Jordan Ferguson, accounted for 17 tackles plus a sack. Tyshun Render (three tackles) and Maximillian Roberts (two tackles) combined for another sack. Quenton Meeks had an interception.

Coach John DeFilippo was especially animated, cheering on the team and getting in the face of the officials when an offensive pass interference call was missed.

Building For Next Season

Last night’s victory was hugely important. Not only does it give the team positive momentum to build on for next year, but as previously announced, the winner of Sunday’s game will be awarded the first draft pick in every single round. Suddenly, the Showboats have a tremendous advantage going into next season.

Last year when they entered the UFL as a newly formed expansion team, the Showboats were unfamiliar with the coaching staff and their teammates. Other teams such as the Birmingham Stallions and the St. Louis Battlehawks had the advantage of at least one full season playing together under their previous coaching staff.

However, the Showboats lacked that experience and familiarity. Instead, they were individual players recruited shortly before the start of the season, trying to adjust to the coaching staff and learn a new playbook. Even though several players came from the New Orleans Breakers and had previously played under Coach DeFilippo, they still had to acquaint themselves with an unfamiliar quarterback and a completely different offensive scheme.

Who Stays And Who To Target In The Draft?

As a result of multiple injuries throughout the season, there was a lack of consistency in the quarterback position. Case Cookus, Troy Williams, and Josh Love each took over the starting assignment when the prior week’s quarterback went down. Cookus had the most experience as the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season. Despite lost time due to injury, he passed for just under 1,000 yards (99/161 for 989 yards) with seven touchdowns and four interceptions.

But Cookus also led the league with 20 sacks. While the Showboats’ offensive line repeatedly came under fire for the lack of protection afforded to Cookus and fellow quarterback Troy Williams (15 sacks) Cookus may have contributed to the problem with his seeming lack of field awareness. It is interesting to note that Josh Love had just one sack in his only start. Did the offensive line suddenly improve or does Love have greater field awareness and the ability to stay out of harm’s way?

Although one of the biggest question marks might be the quarterback position, the building blocks of this offense may already be in place with a trio of talented young wide receivers in Daewood Davis, Jonathan Adams, and Vinny Papale. They’re among the best in the league and present a solid complimentary target base.

Unless he’s snapped up by the NFL, Matthew Coghlin should remain their kicker for next season. Coghlin is one of the UFL’s best kickers with an accurate and reliable 94.1% field goal percentage. He was 16/17 for the season with his longest kick at 57 yards.

So what are the biggest areas of need for the Showboats in the draft? When you end the season with a 2-8 record it’s not difficult to find the areas needing improvement. As previously stated, the offensive line needs improvement. It’s hard to rack up yardage and score when your quarterback and running backs don’t have adequate protection.

Another area of need is the ground game. Despite two highly mobile quarterbacks in Cookus and Williams, the ground game led by Darius Victor was disappointing. Cookus frequently led the team in rushing yards. While Victor was plagued by injury early in the season, it wasn’t until last night that he scored more than one touchdown in a game. Worse still, with only four scores to Victor’s credit this season, those two touchdowns equaled his production through the first nine games.

Although the Showboats’ defense played exceptionally well last night, they entered the game with the worst record in the league, allowing more than 30 points per game to their opponents. For example, Delrick Abrams is one of the team’s best defensive players and is ranked number 15 in the league. But in 10 games, he accounted for 50 tackles, no sacks, and two interceptions. By contrast, St. Louis Battlehawks LB Willie Harvey, Jr. is number one in the UFL with 78 tackles, four sacks for 34 yards, two forced fumbles, six broken passes, and a fumble recovery.

One of the biggest problems the Showboats have faced throughout the season is the lack of attendance at Simmons Liberty Bank Stadium. Memphis attendance ranks amongst the lowest in the league. Although they faced the challenge of being a new team without an existing fan base, even a special bobblehead promotion didn’t attract a larger crowd. Despite assurances from the UFL and Mayor Paul Young that the team will play next season in Memphis, their long-range occupancy is uncertain if attendance doesn’t pick up.

But for now, the future looks much brighter for this team after last night’s victory. The momentum is building, a strong foundation is already in place, and with the first-round draft picks that await, the Showboats could be well on the way to finding lasting success.

author avatar
Sue Levine
Sue Levine spent the past five years creating and producing a successful weekly health and wellness podcast starring a wonderful iconic woman as the program host. As part of Sue's responsibilities, she scripted every episode and discovered a genuine love of writing. When the podcast ended late last year, she shifted the focus of her writing to covering pro sports. A passionate fan of NFL and UFL football as well as fantasy, she is delighted to be able to share her articles with other football fans.

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