United Football League
Stallions coach Skip Holtz reveals QB plan, talks Brahmas rematch
United Football League

Stallions coach Skip Holtz reveals QB plan, talks Brahmas rematch

Updated Jun. 13, 2024 3:21 p.m. ET

Head coach Skip Holtz and the Birmingham Stallions are coming off an eventful 31-18 win over the Michigan Panthers in the USFL Conference Championship Game.

After trailing 18-3, Birmingham narrowed the gap to six points at halftime and then evened up the score at 18 apiece after a third quarter that saw each team turn the ball over three times. The Stallions later scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, capping a 28-0 run to secure a spot in the 2024 UFL Championship Game against the XFL-champion San Antonio Brahmas (5 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

On the latest edition of "The No. 1 College Football Show with RJ Young," Holtz provided his perspective on the wild playoff win.

"Might have been one of the wildest quarters I've ever seen," Holtz told host RJ Young about the third quarter against Michigan. "During the course of the season, I think we had seven turnovers in 10 games, and we had four in that [game]. It was just crazy. It went back and forth. Watching it was like watching a tennis match. I'm sure television was excited because they got all their commercial breaks in with all the change of possessions. It was a wild game; it really was. It was a hard-fought game, a well-played game. …


"I thought our defense did a great job creating a bunch of turnovers and kept our offense in it until we really could get our feet on the ground, quit turning the ball over and go down and put some points up."

Arguably the biggest storyline from the comeback victory was Holtz pulling quarterback and 2024 UFL MVP Adrian Martinez for Matt Corral in the third quarter after Martinez turned the ball over on Birmingham's first two possessions of the second half, and then going three-and-out on the third one. After throwing an interception on his second pass, Corral went on to throw for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 9-of-11 passing.

Will Corral get the starting nod against San Antonio?

"I have two really good quarterbacks. I have two guys that if either one was chosen, could lead this team to a championship," Holtz said of Martinez and Corral. "I think they're both very talented. They both had great camps. I couldn't be more pleased. I know a lot of people are always talking about 'you got to have a quarterback.' I feel like I have two … as we get into this game, right now, Adrian's going to go in as the starter, as he has the last eight weeks of the season, but Matt is available to play. And if I feel like he can help us win, then he's going to go in."

Holtz said that Corral came into the game last week because he felt the team needed a "spark," while also praising how the quarterback has been humble and ready to go this season, rather than complaining about playing time.

Birmingham shuffled the two quarterbacks early in the season, with Martinez eventually being named the full-time starter after Week 4. Across 10 combined games and seven starts, Martinez has totaled 1,750 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, three interceptions and a 99.1 passer rating, while completing 58.5% of his passes. He has also rushed for a UFL-high 528 yards and three touchdowns. Corral has appeared in four games, making three starts.

Sunday's championship game is a chance at revenge for Birmingham, as its only loss came on the road to San Antonio in Week 9, 18-9.

Holtz says the Stallions are "really excited" to get a second chance at the Brahmas.

"I think, for our players, you're motivated to play in the Championship Game. You're motivated to go this far, to get into Week 12. If you're going to get in, you want to win, but you're also playing your only loss of the season. Being 10-1 right now, we have the opportunity to avenge our only loss," Holtz said. "I think our players have a little bit of added interest, added excitement, added enthusiasm, but it also means you're playing the best team. There's some teams that would wish for the lesser of the two teams to get in. I think our players are really excited that we have the opportunity to play the better football team. 

"And we have a chance to go play a team not just with the resume but with the talent and a team that our players have great respect for and are excited about having the opportunity to play again."

Birmingham is aiming to three-peat, as it won the 2022 and 2023 USFL titles before this year's USFL-XFL merge. Holtz has been the Stallions' head coach in each of the past three seasons. 

Prior to taking over in Birmingham, Holtz, the son of College Football Hall of Fame head coach Lou Holtz, had an extensive run in college football, serving as the head coach of the UConn Huskies (1994-98), East Carolina Pirates (2005-09), South Florida Bulls (2010-12) and Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2013-21). Holtz, 60, was also an assistant at Notre Dame and South Carolina, among other schools.

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