United Football League
UFL 2024, Week 2: Five things to watch for
United Football League

UFL 2024, Week 2: Five things to watch for

Updated Apr. 5, 2024 2:04 p.m. ET

Birmingham Stallions head coach Skip Holtz knows a thing or two about offense.

After the departure of last year's starter and USFL MVP Alex McGough for the NFL's Green Bay Packers, Holtz has turned to two quarterbacks who are already making a huge impact: Matt Corral and Adrian Martinez.

Those two helped the Stallions score 27 points in a season-opening win over the Arlington Renegades in Week 1.

Corral finished with 201 passing yards and a touchdown pass, while Martinez ran for 52 yards before leaving the game at the end of the first half with a foot injury. Holtz said he will continue to use both quarterbacks when the Stallions hit the road for a second straight week to face the Michigan Panthers this weekend at Ford Field (Sunday, noon ET)


"Those two will continue to play every game because they both deserve it," Holtz said after the win. "They’re both winning quarterbacks, and they both create a different level for our offense right now. We’re going to need them both."

The Stallions' game is followed by the DC Defenders hosting the Houston Roughnecks at Audi Field (4 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). Saturday’s doubleheader starts with the Memphis Showboats hosting the San Antonio Brahmas at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium (noon ET), with the Renegades facing the St. Louis Battlehawks afterward (8 p.m. ET).

Here are five things to watch for in the UFL’s Week 2 slate of games: 

1. A different Nacua in the spotlight 

Kai Nacua, the older brother of Los Angeles Rams breakout receiver Puka Nacua, has proven that talent runs in the family.

The hard-hitting safety finished with a league-leading 11 combined tackles and a sack in Michigan’s late-game victory over the visiting Battlehawks in Week 1. The Panthers will need another solid effort from Kai Nacua, who helped Michigan hold St. Louis to just 16 points last week, to slow down one of the best offenses in the league in the visiting Stallions.

2. Showboats host Brahmas in early-season battle between top QBs

Two of the top quarterbacks from Week 1 face off against one another when the Showboats host the Brahmas.

San Antonio’s Chase Garbers completed 76% of his passes and accounted for three total touchdowns (two passing and one rushing) in his team’s 27-12 win over the Defenders last week. Meanwhile, Memphis' Case Cookus finished with 201 passing yards and a touchdown in an 18-12 victory over the Roughnecks.

Brahmas head coach Wade Phillips said offensive coordinator A.J. Smith installed the Air Raid offense that the late Mike Leach — an offensive guru — made famous, which pairs well with Phillips’ 3-4 defensive scheme. 

San Antonio finished 3-7 last year in the XFL but is the only undefeated team in the XFL conference after one week. The Brahmas will try to keep it that way against the Showboats (1-0).

3. Still no Mark Thompson for Roughnecks

Last year’s USFL MVP running back remains out with a knee issue for Houston. Thompson did not practice for a second straight week due to the injury. However, defensive end Chris Odom was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, making his debut a possibility for Sunday.

Houston finished with just 42 rushing yards without Thompson last week in a narrow loss to the Showboats, but the Roughnecks managed three sacks defensively.

4. St. Louis is ready to bring the noise

The Battlehawks will host their first home game of the UFL season when the Renegades come to St. Louis this weekend. The former home of the Rams, St. Louis led the XFL in attendance last season, averaging 35,000 fans a game. 

St. Louis head coach Anthony Becht said he expects a raucous crowd for the team’s home opener Saturday at the Dome at America’s Center. 

"Offensively, it’s an advantage for us clearly," Becht told reporters this week. "The crowd is going to be more apt to be louder when the defense is on the field, so we have to thrive off the momentum of the crowd with big plays, big runs, big offensive drives and scoring points. That’s what keeps the crowd lively."

5. Jake Bates, UFL kickers, demonstrate accuracy

The Michigan kicker put his name on the map by drilling a 64-yard, game-winning field goal in Michigan’s tilt vs. St. Louis last week. But overall, kickers performed well, finishing 13 of 15 (86.7%) in Week 1 with four 50-plus-yard field goals.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him at @eric_d_williams.

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