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St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Dallas Renegades Preview

St. Louis and Dallas will be closing out week one of the rebooted XFL season as they will be showcased on ESPN. There are plenty of storylines to go around with the return of Bob Stoops on the sidelines, Jonathan Hayes making his head coaching debut, and Landry Jones’ lingering injury. In terms of what we will be seeing on the field, that’s the big mystery. Fans and teams will be entering the unknown for a new league with new rules.

Game Details

  • St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Dallas Renegades
  • Date/Time: Sunday, February 9th at 5:00 pm EST
  • Location: Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX
  • Network: ESPN

Coaching Comparison

Jonathan Hayes working with his players in practice (Photo from WSILTV Channel 3).

Jonathan Hayes, St. Louis BattleHawks

An interesting choice to be a head coach, Jonathan Hayes is a tough coach who has a ton of fire for the game. Hayes is well known for being a tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003 to 2018. Where he lacks in head coaching he makes up in attitude. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to the game running the show, but the league seems to be high on how he has been doing.

Dallas Renegades coach Bob Stoops will coach his first game in three years (Photo by XFL.com).

Bob Stoops, Dallas Renegades

A college coaching legend is back on the sideline. Bob Stoops’ return has been well documented as the biggest hire by the league. Stoops has brought in a great coaching staff that includes offensive coordinator Hal Mumme and defensive coordinator Chris Woods. The team Stoops has built is based on speed. A lot of speed. Stoops has built one of the most talented teams in the league and their offense should be a lot of fun to watch.

Quarterback Battle

Jordan Ta’amu throws a pass during a scrimmage game against the Dallas Renegades (Photo from XFL.com)

Jordan Ta’amu, St. Louis BattleHawks

The athleticism of Jordan Ta’amu could make him one of the most exciting players in the XFL. He’s got speed and can run out of the pocket when pressure is applied. His rocket arm should help when the team needs a big play. Ta’amu played well at Ole Miss but needs more development in the passing game. The XFL should work to his advantage and make him a better quarterback.

Philip Nelson is expected to be the starter for the Dallas Renegades on Sunday (Photo from XFL.com).

Philip Nelson (Expected Starter), Dallas Renegades

According to the XFL.com’s game preview article, Philip Nelson was listed as the quarterback. The article also said Landry Jones is still working to play for week one, but if he can’t, Nelson will get the nod. Let’s play it safe and share more about Nelson as a quarterback. Nelson comes from pass-happy offenses in East Carolina and most recently with Mike Martz’s San Diego Fleet of the AAF. He has a strong arm and can hit receivers in stride on deep balls. He will be called upon to manage the offense and move the ball down the field.

Keys to Victory

St. Louis BattleHawks

New offensive coordinator Chuck Long has to find plays in the first half that makes Jordan Ta’amu comfortable in the game. The energy level for Ta’amu will be high and he’ll need to be settled down. Christine Michael and Matt Jones will be called upon often to set the tone on first and second down. L’Damian Washington needs to come up big for his young quarterback in the passing game.

The secondary will be key as they have to face a receiving core that has a lot of speed to them. Landry Jones’ injury could have an effect on the passing game, but the defense needs to be ready. The advantage for the defense is they’ll have five dropped back in the secondary. This could leave their the defensive line and linebackers with some pressure to stop the run.

Dallas Renegades

The quarterback situation is a major question. Cameron Artis-Payne will be called upon more often than normal to carry the rock. Jeff Badet is as talented and fast as it gets. He’ll need a big game along with the rest of the smaller receivers on the roster. Jazz Ferguson is questionable to play with his injury issues. Tight ends Sean Price and Donald Parham will need to step up in the goal line.

The front seven for Dallas has a chance to bring a lot of heat and blitz on a rookie quarterback. If they rattle Jordan Ta’amu early in the game, they have a chance to create a lot of turnovers. The linebacking core does a good job backing up into coverage. It could be an advantage for the team to force St. Louis to pass if they can shut down the run. The offense has some questions so the defense needs to create some turnovers to set their offense up in good field position.

Injury Report

St. Louis BattleHawks

  • Will Clarke, DL – Calf, Did not participate
  • Cole Hunt, TE – Hamstring, Limited participation

Dallas Renegades

  • Julian Allen, TE – Hand, Limited participation
  • Jazz Ferguson, WR – Thigh, Limited participation
  • Landry Jones, QB – Knee, Limited participation
  • Tony Guerard, DT – Shoulder, Full participation
  • Doyin Jibowu, DB – Thigh, Full participation

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Anthony Miller
XFL, Dallas Renegades, and Houston Texans writer for Overtime Heroics. Also contributes to NFL, XFL, and arena football news for XFL Board, Infinity Sports Network, Arena Football Talk, Prime Time Sports Talk, and Eagles Nation.
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