Week four of the XFL is underway! The teams are starting to reveal their strengths and their weaknesses as well as their starting line-ups. Remember that this league doesn’t have a preseason outside of a single scrimmage before the season starts.
The DC Defenders looked like a solid team until they were dismantled last week by the Los Angeles Wildcats, 9-39. The offense has struggled to score the points all of this season, only now their defense isn’t scoring for them.
The Tampa Bay Vipers came into the game looking for their first win of the season, coming off of a close 27-34 loss to the Houston Roughnecks. The offense is much improved, now led by former Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius.
Let’s get into these game notes.
De’Veon Smith and Jacques Patrick dominate the night
The Tampa Bay Vipers offense seems to have found their quarterback in Taylor Cornelius, but his ability to throw the ball effectively, even in the short game, has opened up tremendous opportunities for the running game, as evidenced by both Vipers running backs hitting 100 yards in this game, the first two 100-yard rushing performances in the XFL.
De’Veon Smith had been the monster entering the game, showing tremendous skill with his ability to catch and be an explosive runner out of the backfield, and he would lead the efforts with 122 yards rushing, and a couple of catches for another 11 yards.
Jacques Patrick would be the beast, running for 108 yards and the opening touchdown of the game. He is the in-between the tackles runner, grinding for extra yardage where it’s difficult to navigate. Both running backs averaged 5.1 yards per attempt Sunday night.
It’s worth noting that this is the best one-two punch in the entire league, and they dominated the struggling DC Defenders defense. This offense has really found their legs since losing their first two games and scoring just 12 points in those two games. Between this week and last week, the Vipers offense is now averaging 26 points per game, and this running tandem has a lot to do with that.
- Vipers quarterback Taylor Cornelius isn’t an NFL prospect, but it’s worth mentioning that the Vipers offense has found success by scheming to fit the skill set of Cornelius. A lot of the things that the Vipers are doing is what Mike Gundy allowed Cornelius to do as a senior for the Cowboys. It gives him freedom within the offense to make the correct read, not push the ball too far down the field, but also gives him the freedom to run with the football if need be.
- If there was one positive to pull from the DC Defenders, it was the interview that Rahim Moore did with ESPN’s Cole Cubelic. After intercepting Taylor Cornelius in the end zone, Moore broke down exactly what he saw that allowed him to make the interception.