Saturday the Roughnecks travel to Tampa to take on the winless Vipers. Houston is 2-0 but last week against St. Louis they almost crapped the bed and nearly blew a two-touchdown lead. So going into this weekend’s game the last thing they want to do is fall into a trap game to an 0-2 team looking for some momentum. Indeed, a win for Tampa against the highest-scoring team in the XFL would give them some clout.
So what can Houston do to win Saturday? Let’s look at some “KEYS TO VICTORY”.
Quarterback P.J. Walker is leading the XFL in touchdown passes and the big reason is wideout Cam Phillips. Phillips is the league leader with four touchdown receptions and has proven to be the number one option in Houston. With a team loaded with talent, Cam Phillips has risen to the top, along with Walker.
Phillips’s main attribute lies within his ability to separate in his route running. Against St. Louis we had a prime example.
His first of three touchdown catches was a drag to the left but as Walker was flushed out of the pocket Phillips would break to the opposite side of the end zone behind the secondary and would catch a beautiful sidearm.
The bottom line is P.J. Walker is thru week 2 the MVP of the league. But the perfect complement to Walker’s pension for the scramble is Cam Phillips seeing the open spots and exploiting the defense. For Houston to win this weekend they need another big day from Phillips. So far he’s on track to have a great year. He is third in the league in catches with 14 and fourth in the league in yards with 130 yards.
Roughnecks Defense Needs Sustainability
In the inaugural Roughneck’s game, the defense harassed Los Angeles’ backfield like the awkward friend at the club approaching women. Five sacks, eight tackles for losses and they hit the quarterback about 75 times. Last week against the BattleHawks the defense started off the same way.
St. Louis scored a touchdown on their first possession driving 76 yards to paydirt. Houston gave ’em hell and allowed 61 yards on the next six drives forcing three punts and two turnovers. As the next half came the Roughnecks’ defense decided to phone it in and allowed three second-half touchdowns. Those included the first two second-half possessions. Granted the Roughneck’s defense forced an interception that led to the eventual game-winning touchdown but Houston was constantly playing catchup to an elusive quarterback nearly bringing the BattleHawks back from the dead.
Houston needs to be more consistent than they were last week. Tampa could sneak up on the Roughnecks if they aren’t careful and strike like a rattlesnake, er Viper.
Houston’s offense has been great. The high powered passing attack led by coach June Jones and his Run-and-Shoot strategy has been the bread and butter for the Roughnecks. Except the running game has been, eh.
Houston could have used a good running game in the second half of last week’s win. The offense stalled like my old Buick in January and it kept the defense on the field longer than they should’ve.
Running back James Butler is leading the team with 58 yards on a paltry 3.6 yards a carry. Quarterback P.J. Walker has 53 yards but his feet game go in tow with his passing game.
June Jones’ teams traditionally don’t really run the ball all that much. While in the NFL his teams constantly ranked at the bottom of the run stat categories and of course at Hawaii and SMU his quarterbacks would throw like 7,000 yards every season so not a lot of room for ball control.
The drawback to the fast-paced, pass-first offense is the defense ends up playing more than you want and if the pass fails, well sir you’re out of luck.
Honestly, a decent rushing offense is gonna come in handy in a pass-first universe.
Follow me on Twitter for more great content @vidal_espinoza.
Discuss this and everything to do with sports at the Overtime Heroics forums!
Be sure to check out our partners at Repp Sports! They offer the first-ever crowd-sourced, no carb, no sugar, energy drink called RAZE, and much more! Use the link above or add the promo code OTH1 at checkout to get 15% off your order!