The XFL started over the weekend, and we at the Cup are obliged to tell you exactly how any and all former Rebels did in the new league.
No, it’s not the NFL, but Americans love football and we are no different. The AAF wasn’t exactly a rousing success, however more than dozen players from the 2019 minor league outfit made it onto an NFL roster this past season.
After the first of ten weeks of XFL games, it appears the league has learned from its’ predecessor in 2019, as well as the first failed experiment of the XFL in 2001. The league has big time TV partners (ESPN and FOX), and they’ve given each team enough time in training camp to develop the product. The AAF was marred by bad quarterback play and even worse protection. The XFL has done no such thing.
We scoured all the rosters and watched all of the film for you. Here’s how former Rebels did during the XFL’s first week.
Jordan Ta’amu and Channing Ward - St. Louis BattleHawks
The most recent former Ole Miss signal caller, Ta’amu was allocated to the BattleHawks and won the starting job early in preseason camp. St. Louis traveled to face the Las Vegas betting favorites, Dallas Renegades, to kick off the season. As with any new team, cohesion was an issue, but Channing Ward and the BattleHawks defense kept Dallas in check. Trailing 9-6 early in the fourth and facing third-and-long at midfield, Ta’amu scrambled for 37 yards and a first down.
The BattleHawks would score three plays later on a nine-yard Ta’amu pass to former New York Giant Alonzo Russell. Ta’amu ended the day 20-for-27 and 209 yards through the air along with nine carries for 77 more yards on the ground. Ward added three tackles as he disrupted Dallas all game long, allowing just 267 yards on the day.
DeMarquis Gates - Houston Roughnecks
Gates picked up where he left off in Oxford, helping Houston a 37-17 victory over the Los Angeles Wildcats. The former Landshark was all over the place for the Roughneck defense, combining for three tackles, a quarterback hurry, a pass defensed, and recovering the lone turnover in the game, late in the fourth quarter.
Daronte Bouldin - Tampa Bay Vipers
The Canton, Miss. product played every snap for the Vipers in a 23-3 loss to the vaunted New York Guardians at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford. However, the final score wasn’t indicative of the game as Tampa Bay had 394 yards of offense to the Guardians 226.
Three turnovers proved costly for the Vipers, including two interceptions in New York territory. The Vipers were second favorites according to the oddsmakers, so look for them to bounce back in week two against Seattle.
Derrick Jones and Rod Taylor - Team 9
No, this isn’t an unnamed team. It’s a de facto practice squad with its’ own coaching staff and training facility. Members of Team 9 can be picked up at any time, and the ones that are not will be added to rosters at the end of week eight as rosters expand from 52-to-59 players. I expect both will see playing time for one of the other eight franchises long before that, however.
This week’s schedule:
Who: Tampa Bay at Seattle
When: 4:00pm CST
Who: St. Louis at Houston
When: 5:00pm CST