By Will Freeman

Philadelphia Stars 26

Michigan Panthers 25

Imagine watching a great back and forth game, but for it to end badly with a missed field goal “doinked” off the goalposts, plus your team had about 30 seconds left in the game, two timeouts, and the ball is only 3 yards away from a touchdown. I’ll even throw in that the kicker is actually the punter. You might be wondering who made this decision to go for a field goal rather than try for a touchdown. Well, that belonged to Michigan Panthers head coach Jeff Fisher. Losing in the most Jeff Fisher way possible. That moment took away the great performance of RB Reggie Corbin who rushed for 152 yards, along with the USFL’s longest touchdown run of 88 yards. While QB Shea Patterson in return didn’t have a great performance throwing the ball, going 9 for 15, for only 67 passing yards with a TD and 3 picks, he did run for 79 yards and added a rushing TD. Philadelphia Stars QB Case Cookus had his first start after taking over for the injured Bryan Scott in week 3. He finished the game with 22 for 30, 190 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. 34 points from this game came off from turnovers.

New Jersey Generals 21

Pittsburgh Maulers 13

The New Jersey Generals continued their winning ways going with a two QB system starting with De’Andre Johnson and then Luis Perez coming in at times. Both QBs combined with 20 for 24, 200 passing yards, and 1 TD. The still winless Pittsburgh Maulers QB Kyle Lauletta was 15 for 32 for 169 yards with no touchdowns and no picks. Lauletta’s main target was wideout Tre Walker with 9 catches for 110 receiving yards. Though the Maulers did play better in week 4 they still have the same discipline problems when it came to penalties, clock management, and overthrown balls. The Generals could have scored higher had they not missed 3 field goals. Nonetheless, the Generals moved to 3-1. 

Tampa Bay Bandits 10

Birmingham Stallions 16

I had some concerns for the Birmingham Stallions when their injury report came out with about ten players who were questionable due to illness. QBs J’Mar Smith and Alex McGough and LB Scooby Wright were on that list. By game time, Wright and McGough were ready to go. Wright was a stud for the Stallions leading the defense with 6 tackles and 1 sack. McGough started this game since he was injured in week 1 going 14 for 26, 126 passing yards, no passing touchdowns, no picks, and a rushing TD. Stallions kicker Brandon Aubrey was spectacular in this game making the PAT and 3 FGs in the second half to get the victory. As I said about Tampa Bay Bandits in week 3, the O-Line troubles continue this week. Starting center Bruno Reagan was inactive due to injury, and the backup center Matt Burrell, Jr. got knocked out for a time which caused Bandits’ coach Todd Haley to employ putting a right guard in at center, however, Burrell would return to the game. QB Jordan Ta’Amu would have to use his legs again for this game with those offensive line troubles. It also didn’t help that some of his receivers dropped several balls. Ta’Amu did get a passing TD on a 9-yard pass to Rashard Davis. But the Stallions would get the W and remain undefeated at 4-0.

Houston Gamblers 16

New Orleans Breakers 23

The biggest story of this game wasn’t the QB of either team, but Breakers kicker Taylor Bertolet who was recently signed as a free agent. Bertolet actually played for the Houston Gamblers head coach Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. With the kicker woes throughout the USFL, he started beautifully by making a 50-yarder down the middle. Bertolet was 3 for 4 on field goals, with the one miss being blocked. The Breakers broke through by going for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the game, on Houston’s 29-yard line, Breakers QB Kyle Sloter threw a pass to WR Jonathan Adams for the winning score. Adams was the lead receiver for the Breakers with 6 catches, 101 receiving yards, and a touchdown. The Gamblers’ defense played well causing 4 turnovers, but their QB Clayton Thorson had an unbalanced performance with some questionable throws. Thorson would finish 15 for 27, 127 passing yards, and a touchdown. The Gamblers were in the game thanks to their defense and a blocked field goal. The Breakers are in second with a 3-1 mark, while the Gamblers dropped to 1-3. 

Overview

Before Week 4 started there was a change in the rules announced by Mike Pereira to maximize fan enjoyment by moving to a running clock for incomplete passes for only the 1st and 3rd quarters. I personally find this disingenuous. And I am never a fan of changing league rules during the season of play. The flow of the game did feel off to me when I have to remind myself of this new rule while watching the games this week. There was also a delay for the Stars vs Panthers game on FS1 due to the NASCAR truck race. To me placing this game on the USA Network would have been the better choice. Also during the Bandits vs Stallions game, there was a misstep by Pereira and FOX commentators Curt Menefee and Joe Klatt had to correct him on what happened after he made the wrong decision that caused the Bandits forced to use a challenge. Then found out by Mike Pereria that USFL teams only get one challenge only no matter the outcome. One thing the league needs to change is expanding its rosters. The teams have 45-man rosters with game day only being 38. And with injuries increasing it definitely affects future coaching decisions. The game quality was good overall this week.

Will’s Week 5 picks

Panthers VS. Bandits – Bandits

Breakers VS. Generals – Generals

Stallions VS. Stars – Stallions

Maulers VS. Gamblers – Gamblers

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