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We are finally here. We are ready to begin Week 1 of the regular season for The Alliance Of American Football (here after the AAF or Alliance). As an unabashed Memphis Express fan I will be providing previews of all Express games and reviews and analysis for them all year. Despite my loyalties, I will at least try to keep as balanced as possible for the sake of journalism.
The way I see it, the key keys to the game are as follows:
The size of and strength of the Iron Run Game vs The Memphis Express defensive front:
The Iron are have a couple of really big running backs. Former NFL prospect and Alabama stud Trent Richardson and Ty Isaac are both pushing 230 lbs. and can really be hard to bring down. The Memphis Express front. It is key for the Express to limit the Iron’s run game. Iron QB Louis Perez has historically been exceptionally accurate with a completion percentage of over 70% while in college. Failure to stop these bruising backs will result in leaving Memphis open to play action passes and big plays from an accurate QB if they Iron are continually in short yardage situations. You can bet the Iron will want to run as much as possible to slow down what looks to be a very strong edge pass rush ability the Express have.
The Express Passing game Vs Iron Defensive Backs
The Express are deep at Wide receiver and can hurt you in many ways. With excellent slot receivers in Former TN Stand out Alton “Pig” Howard and Arena league star Fabian Guerra the express have a lot of speed and shiftyness than can cause problems for defenses. When you add 6’6″ 225 Kayune Ross to the mix it can cause isolation issues near the goal line as well as 6’5″ Brandon Barnes a tight end that attracted a lot of NFL attention when he came out of Alabama state for his athletic ability. Add to the fact they Express have at other solid receiving options in Reece Horne (who was great all camp) and NFL prospect Damore’ea Stringfellow in the mix, the depth and diverse mix of talents can be a headache for any defense. Also, the Memphis RB corp lead by former NFL player Zac Stacy, are quick and are also accomplished receivers coming out of the backfield It really behooves the Iron to pressure the QB as much as possible to not give these WR time to operate and make big plays and allowing the RB’s to create mismatches in the passing game.
Both teams feature former NFL Starting Punters with Colton Schmidt, formerly of the Buffalo Bills getting the nod for the Iron and Brad Wing, formerly of the New York Giants (and Steelers), getting the nod for the Express. Both are experienced and put up nearly identical numbers in the NFL with only .7 yards per kick separating them. The Iron also feature former NFL Kicker Nick Novak who had a real inconsistent career with some exceptional ones and some sub 70% accuracy ones in the NFL while the Express counter with Josh Jasper. Jasper was highly accurate in College, but he has been out of school for 8 years now and is 31 years old, trying to make one last go of it. His only game experience since 2011 has been in the Arena League. The kickers are the most experienced group in the game. The Place kickers are 37 (Novak) and 31 (Jasper) and it may come down to special teams early in the year as the primary offenses and defenses still get used to playing together.
The way I see it, this game mirrors the team names. It is the size and strength of the Iron vs the speed and quickness of the Express. Who will the Express start at QB? this is another question yet to be answered. But with Penn State standout with several years around the pro game Christian Hackenberg and former NFL starter and LSU standout Zach Mettenberger, the Express are certain to be bringing more experience under Center. Who will be 1-0? We will soon find out.