At Houston Roughnecks
Opening game for the Wildcats went from competitive to a blowout.
It was a tale of 2 halves. The 1st half was near perfect until
Clock management reared it’s ugly head.
The 2nd half went off the rails literally
from the 1st drive on the Wildcats could
never find a rhythm in the 2nd half.
The Wildcats started the game with a
mishap in the Defensive backfield which
allowed 54 Yard Bomb to Sam Mobley
from Roughnecks QB PJ Daniels who is a
legend at Temple University holding their
top passing records with former HC Matt
Rhule the point man for the Carolina
Panthers. This gave the Roughnecks a
The Wildcats answered this with a scoring
drive of their own. Charlie Kanoff led a 11
play drive that was punctuated by QB
scramble of 5 yards to score a TD with a
great reach out to ensure the TD.
Gladiators converted the 2pt conversion
The Wildcats defense settled in and were
able to get the Roughnecks off the field on
the 2nd drive. The Roughnecks gotta gift
though on the punt when Kermit Whitfield
muffed the punt return and was recovered
by the Roughnecks. Even though Houston
had great field position the Wildcats were
able to force a 3 and out. Roughnecks
Kicker Sergio Castillo came in and
shanked a 40 yard Field Goal.
The Wildcats took over early in the 2nd
and once again had a nice long drive that
consisted of simple runs and well
executed pass plays. On this drive Nelson
Spruce was vital with 3 catches that set
up a nice pass play down the sideline from
Kanoff to Smallwood which turned into a
11 yard TD catch in the end zone. The 2pt
conversion was no good making the score
14-6 early in the 2nd quarter.
The Roughnecks came right back and
started a nice drive but seemed to stall
until they were bailed out by a pass
interference call on Jaylen Dunlap. On the
next play Daniels connected on a swing
pass to RB James Butler which netted a
16 yard TD. The 2pt conversion failed
keeping the Wildcats ahead 14-12.
The Wildcats again had a near perfect
drive that got all the way to the Red Zone.
Koni Ealy former 2nd round pick of the
NFL’s Carolina Panthers was very
disruptive and sacked Kanoff to help stall
the drive inside the 20 yard line. Nick
Novak came onto hit a 35 yard Field Goal
to increase the Wildcats lead to 17-12.
This would be the final points scored by
the Wildcats for the game.
Roughnecks again found themselves in a
3rd down situation and June Jones the
Offensive Maestro dialed up another deep
ball play which had Daniels connecting
with Mobley for a 39 yard TD. The 2pt
conversion failed but the Roughnecks took
a 18-17 lead with 1 minute left in the half.
The next Wildcats drive was when they
lost their momentum. The Wildcats were
able to get good field position due to the
kickoff going out of bounds. Kanoff had
nice drive going that found the Wildcats in
the Red Zone. The problem with clock
management occurred after a quick 5
yard catch by Nelson Spruce on the
Roughnecks 15 yard line.
The Wildcats has used both of their
timeouts and confusion set in So instead
of spiking the ball the Wildcats let the play
clock expire and take a Delay of Game
penalty what they forgot this results in a
10 second run off and there is only 11
seconds on the clock. So on the Refs
whistle the game clock begins with the
kicking unit on the field they were unable
to get the snap off Before the game clock
expired so no attempt and the
Roughnecks take a 18-17 lead into
The Wildcats received the Kick to start the
2nd half and found themselves quickly
were off the off field after receiving their
first 3 and out of the season. Roughnecks
confidence had been elevated with Ealy
being his old self.
Junes Jones Roughnecks offense took the
field with a new confidence seeming as if
they cracked the scheme put together by
Coach Moss and Pepper Johnson(DC).
Daniels dashed out of a sack for a 13 yard
run that setup Houston in prime position.
Daniels then found Nick Holley at the
Wildcats 4 yard line where he took a bone
crushing hit but he popped right up.
Then Holley cleared out the Wildcats
coverage on the next play that set up a 4
yard TD to Kahlil Lewis and finally the
Roughnecks connected on the 2pt
conversion increasing their lead to 26-17
early in the 3rd quarter.
The Wildcats were able to get over the 50
the drive stalled at the Houston 36 as the
Roughnecks forced the turnover on
Downs. The Roughnecks had an 8 play
drive that stalled at the LA 26. This setup
a 44 yard Field Goal for Castillo who was
able to kick the ball right down the middle
to give Houston a 29-17 lead early in the
The next drive for the Wildcats saw Jalan
McClendon inserted into to the game at
QB a move that was a bit of a head
scratcher since Kanoff had 1 error earlier
that led to a wild interception that looked
like a fumble regardless it was a turnover.
McClendon then throws an arrant pass
that leads to an interception by Deatrick
Nichols who returned the ball to the LA
The next drive was the final scoring drive
of the game the Roughnecks moved
methodically down the field and finished
off a effortless drive with the knockout
punch via 4 yard TD by James Butler and
the 2pt conversion gives Houston a
sufficient lead 37-17.
My 2 Cents
The Wildcats sorely needed their starting
QB Josh Johnson who is a savvy vet with
plenty of time logged in the NFL. The
Wildcats have some really good players
on Offense starting with Nelson Spruce
who led the way for the WR Corps. Spruce
caught 11 Balls for 113 yards leading all
receivers on both sides. The most reliable
target that the Wildcats had in the opener.
Elijah Hood started slow but had some
good spurts and was very key piece to the
Gameplan. Ahmad Dixon shined on the
Defensive side with some eye popping hits
and great instincts breaking up a some
pass plays that would’ve been big plays
for the Roughnecks.
Now it’s time for me to give you ugly of the
Wildcats. I saw a team that lacked
awareness in crucial spots. Defense was
steady for a while but most of the game
was challenged at every turn. The pass
rushers we’re out of position and it
allowed for big gains on what seemed to
be broken plays.
3 Wildcats turnovers killed key drives for
the team. Charlie Kanoff played well early
but then his overthinking led to a moment
on the sideline when he was inserted back
in he injured his shoulder which isn’t good
because McClendon played timid and out
of his element. Kanoff threw for 200 yards
with 1 TD and 1 INT. The drop off for the
QB was insane though Kanoff threw for
177 in the 1st Half and 23 yards in the 2nd
The sum of all of this though is I saw some
good things that the Wildcats could build
on. I also do many things that they need
to work on specifically pass rush and pass
The defense was really good against the
run only allowing a few big plays on the
ground. Missed tackles also was a big
difference in a winning and losing this
This week the defensive coaches
need to simplify things for this unit and
prepare a solid scheme against the high
powered offense of the Bob Stoops led
Dallas Renegades in the Home Opener.
The Offense will need to be efficient and
deceptive in the coming games they have
some good speed at RB and WR positions.
Johnson if available should be able to
manage the game to Norm Chow’s keen
play calls. I expect Spruce snd Smallwood
to be the main targets with Whitfield being
the Slot speedster. The Offense hit a rut
The O-Line will have to be more reliable
next time out they hit beat up in the
trenches all 2nd half. The running game
should be the focus with Hood and Rose
we will see how they are used next week. I
think the duo could be very potent.
My final thoughts! The XFL is much more
exciting this time around. They have guys
who are college legends and former NFL
players who had some success in the
League. The thing that stands out though
is the coaching so many brilliant minds
have joined the XFL and believe in the
league. February 8th 2020 proved to be
a great day for the XFL. The excitement is
there and the passion for the game flows
deep. Wildcats start 0-1 but we got 9
more games to go.
Host of Wildcats Weekly Show
Cover photo credit: https://twitter.com/XFLWildcats