After a record setting win over the Defenders on Sunday, the Tampa Bay Vipers will head to Los Angeles to take on the Wildcats.
Plant City, FL — For the first time in franchise history, the Tampa Bay Vipers will head into a game coming off of a victory. The Vipers are coming off of a record setting performance against the Defenders. They set an XFL season-highs in total yards (477) and rushing yards (266) while also setting season-lows on defense. The Defenders were limited to 107 total yards including 61 yards passing. As mentioned, both of which were season-lows.
They now head to L.A. to take on the 1-3 Wildcats.
So what changed?
A few things. First a foremost, the defense was at full strength. I don’t think anyone predicted the team pitching a shutout, but that dominating performance wasn’t too much of a surprise. The return of Obum Gwacham cannot be overstated. In his first game of the season, Gwacham caused constant pressure. He recorded two QB hits – including a sack – and also made an impact on special teams blocking a field gold.
Secondly, the Vipers weren’t flip flopping quarterbacks every other series. While everyone might like the idea of giving the defense different schemes to focus on, the one constant quarterback only helps the offense stay in a rhythm. And if you think differently, you didn’t watch the game last week.
Most importantly, the fact the Vipers focused on pounding the rock for the entire game was the biggest reason for their success. As mentioned before, it was the best rushing performance the XFL has seen this season.
What to expect this week
I’d imagine much of the same from last week. Quinton Flowers is back on the active roster, but head coach Marc Trestman already announced that Taylor Cornelius will remain the starter. The offense will finally be at full strength as the team is expected to get TE Nick Truesdell back in the lineup.
The Vipers own the number one rushing offense in the league averaging 171 yards per game on the ground. That’s no shock as they have the number one and three rushers coming into week 5. The Wildcats own the worst rushing defense in the league. So to say we’re going to see a heavy dose of De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick is likely to be an understatement.
By the numbers
As you can see, the Vipers are now number one in total offense and defense. Quite the accomplishment if you take into account all of the injures and the brutal schedule the team has had to deal with to start the season.
However, the odds are stacked against the Vipers this week as teams are 0-4 traveling cross-country. The Vipers loss to Seattle in week 2 is one of the four losses.
No team to make a cross-country trip in the @xfl2020 has come out with a W so far this season.
— XFL on FOX (@XFLonFOX) March 5, 2020
Meeting the Wildcats
A familiar name for Tampa Bay football fans, the Wildcats are led by quarterback Josh Johnson. Johnson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He spent his first three years with the Bucs going 0-5 in five starts.
Despite missing week one, Johnson still ranks third in the XFL in passing with 788 yards including seven touchdown passes and only one interception.
Most of those passes go to Noah Spruce, who was third in receiving yards coming into the week. Spruce has 20 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Spruce has already been ruled out for Sunday night’s contest. Tre McBride was fifth in yards coming into this week with 236 yards. McBride leads the team with three receiving touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats have former Vipers CB Arrion Springs. Springs was involved in the first trade in the XFL when the Vipers swapped him for CB Jalen Collins. Collins was waived earlier in the week.
Week 5 injury report
|TB||Ricky Walker||DT||Ankle||Did not participate||Out|
|TB||De’Veon Smith||RB||Foot||Limited participation||Probable|
|TB||Andrew Franks||K||Knee||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||S.J. Green||WR||Knee||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||Jordan McCray||OL||Back||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||Terrance Plummer||LB||Illness||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||Nick Truesdell||TE||Knee||Full participation||Probable|
|TB||John Yarbrough||OL||Ankle||Full participation||Probable|
What Vegas thinks
For the second week in a row, the Vipers are a 2.5 point underdog. As stated early, teams that travel cross-country are winless this season. The total for the game is set at 41.5.
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