United Football League
UFL 2024: Five things to watch for in Week 9
United Football League

UFL 2024: Five things to watch for in Week 9

Published May. 24, 2024 1:06 p.m. ET

With two weeks left in the UFL regular season, the San Antonio Brahmas are getting back a key piece of their offense for a final postseason push. 

Quarterback Chase Garbers was in the conversation for UFL MVP honors early in the season before suffering a wrist injury in Week 3 that sent him to IR. However, after missing five games, Garbers has been activated and is available to play when San Antonio hosts the undefeated Birmingham Stallions on Saturday (3 p.m. ET).

Garbers completed 70.8% of his passes for 586 yards and six touchdowns with just one interception in three games for San Antonio before his injury. In his place, Quinten Dormady has completed 60% of his passes for 976 yards and five touchdowns, with six interceptions.

San Antonio head coach Wade Phillips said both will play this weekend. "He’s practicing this week, and we’ll see where he is," he said about Garbers. "I do expect him to play, but I also expect Quinten to play, too."


The Stallions (8-0) can clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the USFL Conference title game with a win or a loss by the Michigan Panthers (6-2). If the Brahmas win, they'll clinch a home playoff game in the XFL Conference final.

Alternatively, the St. Louis Battlehawks (6-2) can clinch home-field advantage in the XFL Conference with a win over the Arlington Renegades (1-7) and a loss by San Antonio. The Battlehawks face the Renegades earlier Saturday at noon ET.

In Sunday’s doubleheader on FOX, the Memphis Showboats (1-7) host the D.C. Defenders (3-5) at 2:30 p.m. ET, and the Panthers take on the Houston Roughnecks (1-7), also at 2:30 p.m. ET.

With the postseason right around the corner, the UFL released renderings of its championship trophy this week.

Here are five things to watch for in Week 9's slate of games.

1. Manny Wilkins earns his second start for the Battlehawks 

St. Louis head coach Anthony Becht said starting QB AJ McCarron would be available this week after missing last week’s victory over the Defenders with an ankle injury. However, Becht said McCarron is set to serve as the team’s No. 2 behind Wilkins, who will get the start for a second straight week.

Wilkins finished with 205 total yards in his first start in seven seasons. Becht understands that he has two weeks to make sure McCarron is fully healthy and ready to go for the start of the playoffs. McCarron was a limited participant in practice all week and is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game.

Also, wide receivers Jahcour Pearson (ankle) and Marcell Ateman (respiratory illness) will return to action for St. Louis. The Battlehawks also waived backup QB Drew Plitt this week.

2. Michigan places RB Wes Hills on IR

Panthers head coach Mike Nolan will enter the playoffs without one of his top offensive weapons. Bruising running back Hills was placed on IR this week with a season-ending leg injury.

Hills finished with 277 rushing yards and five touchdowns, pairing with Matt Colburn for a potent rushing combination for the Panthers. Nolan brought back Toa Taua to replace Hills in the lineup. 

Leading sack man Breeland Speaks (5.5 sacks) did not practice this week due to an ankle injury, leaving his availability for Sunday's game in question. Michigan’s top receiver Marcus Simms also could be unavailable after missing practice all week with a hamstring injury. However, safety Kai Nacua will return to the lineup after missing Week 8 with a concussion. 

The Stallions waived punter Drue Crisman and brought back the team’s punter to start the year in Colby Waldman, while the Brahmas waived QB Jayden de Laura to make room for Garbers. 

San Antonio RB John Lovett, the league's No. 2 rusher behind Birmingham QB Adrian Martinez, will be inactive due to a chest injury.

3. QB Nolan Henderson could get the nod for the Roughnecks

Starter Jarrett Guarantano is once unavailable due to injury, this time a wrist issue. In searching for someone to spark his stagnant offense, Houston head coach Curtis Johnson said he could look to Henderson to start instead of Reid Sinnett.

Both saw time in last week’s loss to Birmingham, but the Delaware product offers a little better scrambling ability than Sinnett. Still, both signal-callers could see time again as Johnson potentially goes with a two-QB rotation this weekend.

4. Renegades scuffling, but QB Luis Perez is still the UFL’s leading passer

While the defending XFL champions are having a season to forget, Perez has remained one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league. He leads the UFL in passing yards (1,834), is third in passing touchdowns (12) and has just two interceptions this season.

However, Perez doesn’t offer much in the way of playmaking ability with his legs, with just eight rushing yards this season. Arlington moved Holton Ahlers, someone who could offer more mobility at the position, to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Perez this week. With no chance to make the postseason, Ahlers could see time for the Renegades this week. 

5. Stat of the week

Michigan kicker Jake Bates had an impressive run in his first full season kicking field goals professionally. He is 15 of 18 on the year, including 10 of 11 at Ford Field.

Bates is 3 for 4 from 60-plus yards, and those three field goals of 60-plus yards are more than any NFL kicker has made in an individual season.

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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