The Birmingham Stallions have not lost a game since May 13th, 2023 when they found themselves on the wrong end of a 27-20 game against the Houston Gamblers. This game would end up sparking some overconfidence in one of the more vocal members of Houston’s roster. That spark created an ember of controversy which has since ignited on Twitter into a full-blown rivalry. But that’s a story for another day, (Birmingham plays Houston in weeks 5, and 8) In week one Birmingham had their sights set on another team hailing from Texas, namely the 2023 XFL Champion Arlington Renegades. 

Watching as countless members of media picked Arlington to win, Birmingham seemingly walked into week one as an underdog for the first time since the USFL launched in 2022. Since that first game in mid-April of 2022, the Stallions have gone on to a 21-3 record including a 4-0 record in playoff or championship games. The Stallions revel in being underdogs to anyone, this motivation helped lead to them winning the game 27-14. Not far off from my 28-16 prediction in the week 1 preview article

The most important factor in this game was the performance in the red zone. It directly resulted in a Stallions win in this game. Arlington failed to convert two attempts while Birmingham was 2 of 3 in the red zone. If the Stallions continue this success in the red area they should continue to add to the win column. 

Week Two Preview 

In week two the Stallions have another road trip on their hands. This time they face inter-division rival the Michigan Panthers at Ford Field. This game is on ESPN and ESPN Xtra on Sirius Radio, the broadcast begins at noon ET. 

In this game, we will watch two very different quarterbacks take the field for their respective teams. Matt Corral is a former third-round NFL Draft pick known for his ability to be a “game changer” in the passing game at the UFL level, while Ej Perry is an NFL undrafted free agent who is best known for his ability to run the ball. 

Both teams leaned heavily on the run game although it was one back that carried the load for Michigan while Birmingham split carries between two backs. It was the defenses that stepped up and impressed in week one for both teams holding their opponents to a combined 29 points, collecting 5 sacks, 4 tipped passes, and 1 interception in their week one matchups. Holding opponents to a 2 of 6 conversion rate in the red zone. 

Weakness to Target in Week Two 

In week one Ej Perry saw 6 of his passes deflected, and 2 intercepted, he was also sacked one time on just 25 pass attempts. He ended the day 12 of 24 for 176 yards 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He added 6 carries for 17 yards and 2 touchdowns and lost a fumble in the process. He has shown to struggle with accuracy, and sometimes decision making.

This carries over to his previous pro experience. In his three NFL Preseason appearances he has managed this stat line: 32 of 60 for 351 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. 

Last season when given the chance to start one game, he performed in a similar fashion completing 12 of 23 passes for 121 yards no touchdowns or interceptions, adding 10 carries for 48 yards, and 1 touchdown. Perry has not thrown a touchdown or 20+ yard pass yet in his spring professional career. 

This is the exact weakness the Stallions’ defense needs to sell out to exploit. Stop the run, and force Perry to beat you through the air. Everything he has done at the professional level shows he will gift-wrap an average of one interception in each appearance for his opponent. Now if you can couple this turnover with the lack of a run game…the Michigan Panthers will look more like Kittens by the end of this game. 

Defensive Vulnerabilities 

Aj McCarron may not have taken home the victory but he still gave Corral the recipe for victory in week two. Take what the secondary gives you. Attempting 37 passes McCarron completed 24 passes with just one batted down. 

In week one the Stallions quarterbacks left a lot of questions on the table completing 14 of 27 pass attempts for 227 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. They had six passes deflected which didn’t help their case at all but anytime you have defenders get their hands on 8 of 27 or 29% of your passes there is a lot of room for improvement. The Stallions staff needs to work on this aspect of their passing game no matter what it takes. In week two, it’ll take patience and discipline in the play calling, and coaching of the quarterbacks. Both of these young players need to understand there is no sense in forcing passes into tight windows when you know you have the best running game in the league to lean on.

Stick to the Run

The Panthers were able to hold the Battlehawks to 62 yards on 20 rushing attempts. While overall the numbers don’t look like the Battlehawks had any success in the run, it was their dedication to the run late in the game that helped them take the lead late in the fourth quarter. 

Ten of their 20 attempts came in the fourth quarter alone, and they had two more in the third quarter. It wasn’t about the level of production on these runs that helped their offense, given they only produced 18 yards on 12 carries in the second half. The dedication to the run was enough to keep the defense on their toes and help the passing game move the ball. 

The Battlehawks attempted 21 passes in the second half and produced 132 passing yards on 12 completions. To put that into perspective that means in the first half the Battlehawks attempted 16 passes, completing 12 passes, and managed only 84 of 216 passing yards. 60% of the Battlehawks’ rushing attempts came in the second half, and with it came 61% of their passing yards as well. The Stallions need to keep this in mind during the game. 

This dedication to the run, and their efficiency when using it will also go hand in hand with their quarterbacks trying to get in a rhythm. I’m curious to see if we see as much of Adrian Martinez in week two as we did in week one when he was allowed to play entire drives. Based on this comment from Coach Skip Holtz we should not expect this two-quarterback system to be abandoned anytime soon. 

Carlos Davis, A Huge Factor in Week One, Will be Asked to Step Up Once Again 

Carlos Davis is a very strong and large man, and this goes hand in hand with his role for the Stallions as a run-stuffing nose tackle. In week one, Davis was able to collect a sack, but he also helped his unit hold the run-heavy Renegades to just 59 yards rushing on 18 attempts. This was good for 3.3 yards per carry. 

A team that ran nearly twice as much as they passed last season, flipped the script in this game. Instead choosing to lean on Luis Perez and his arm with 28 pass attempts to 18 rushing attempts on the day. 

This came only after Davis had a sack-fumble on the first drive, and the boys in Burgundy held the offense to 13 carries for 49 yards (3.76 yards per carry) in the first half. I mentioned in my week one preview the matchup with Arlington might be a season-defining game for Davis, and he responded in a big way and set the tone for the defense with 5 tackles, 1 sack, and a forced fumble. 

While week 1 may still end up being his defining game for 2024, in week two he will be asked to lead the run defense to success once again. This time his unit will be faced with Wes Hills(Adelphia) Matt Colburn, and a run-first quarterback in Ej Perry who combined for 112 rushing yards second most by any team in the league in week one, behind only the Stallions. 

Betting Odds

In this game, DraftKings has Michigan listed as a 6.5-point underdog. Honestly, this seems very accurate to me as far as what I expect to transpire in this game. Birmingham again led the league in rushing, in week one. I don’t expect that to change, given their desire to control the flow of the game against the Panthers. Putting the Panthers in a scenario where they are chasing points while getting pounded by the run game is the recipe for success against them in week two. With that in mind, I do not expect this to be a high-scoring game. I have it at a total of 38 points. 

DraftKings has the under/over at 41 points. In this game, I’m taking Michigan and the points while also betting the under. 


I have the Stallions winning 21 to 17 in this game. As I mentioned before, I expect a very run-heavy approach, which will limit some of the scoring opportunities for both teams. At the same point, I expect the stallions to do everything in their power to jump out to an early lead and nurse that lead throughout the game it only plays into their game plan. 

If EJ Perry is forced to take over the game with his arm and not his legs this will almost certainly end in defeat for Michigan. I do expect somewhat of a rebound performance for Perry, but I don’t expect him to be able to overcome with the Stallions will be able to do in week two. I do see him logging his first touchdown pass in a Panthers uniform in week two, but I would be shocked to see him find the end zone through the air more than twice in this game. 

Check out this weekly UFL show I host…every Saturday night at 9:30 pm ET.  

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Sam Just

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