Week 1 Preview: St. Louis BattleHawks at Dallas Renegades
St. Louis: Jonathan Hayes
- Twelve-year career as TE with Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers
- TE coach for Cincinnati Bengals (2003-2018)
- TE coach, special teams coordinator for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, including 2000 National Championship team
Dallas: Bob Stoops
- Ranks among Top 25 winningest head coaches in college football history
- NCAA National Champion (2000), AP Coach of the Year in University of Oklahoma’s undefeated season
- Only BCS-era HC to win Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl
“It's excitement and nerves at the same time because I haven't played in a while. More excitement just because we get to play again. I'm excited about our game plan and just going out there and execute is the main goal.”
“Man, I'm excited. I've missed football for 18 weeks. I'm glad the XFL gave me this opportunity and I just can't wait to get out there, and just hit somebody, make a tackle, make a play on somebody. Heck, even get beat. I'm ready for it all.”
BattleHawks: Jordan Ta’amu
What You’ll See: Despite being just a year out of college, Ta’amu’s mental and anticipatory progression as a passer has been outstanding for the BattleHawks. He has the arm talent and short-area mobility to evade tacklers and drive the ball downfield, and his placement in the seam and on the perimeter should maximize the length this receiving and tight end corps has.
Renegades: Phillip Nelson
What You’ll See: Nelson has consistently won over coaching staffs wherever he’s been, and that’s due to his ability to evade and improvise in the pocket, fight through contact, and avoid the big mistake. Nelson has the accuracy in the short and mid-field and confidence inside and outside the pocket to be a capable, if not strong, quarterback for the Renegades.
MORE PLAYERS TO WATCH
S Kenny Robinson: The 21-year-old rookie has impressed coaches with his range, ball skills, athleticism, tackling and, perhaps most important, his maturity.
RB Christine Michael: The former Texas A&M star and second-round pick looks to take advantage of a big offensive line opening up holes.
RB Cameron Artis-Payne: The former Auburn star rushed for nearly 500 yards and scored 5 touchdowns with the Panthers before taking the lead back duties in Dallas.
S Derron Smith: Rangy and looking to make the big play, Smith starred in the AAF, leading San Antonio in tackles before the league folded.
NEED TO KNOW
QB Landry Jones (knee) is shooting to be lineup in Week 1, but if he’s not ready, the Renegades will go with Philip Nelson. OC Hal Mumme’s “Air Raid” may be the league’s simplest offense and end up being its most effective. Dallas coach Bob Stoops is pretty much a local hero after his long successful run across the Red River at Oklahoma.
BattleHawks coach Jonathan Hayes and OC Chuck Long both served under Stoops at OU. Establishing the run behind Michael and Matt Jones should take pressure off Ta’amu.
-- Art Garcia, XFL.com