Takeaways From Apollos Game Week Practice

Credit: Orlando Apollos

Game day is quickly approaching! The Apollos are back from San Antonio and jumped right into the practice in the Florida heat and sunshine. I had the privilege to attend the Apollos practice yesterday (Feb. 5th) and have a few takeaways. 

1. Quarterbacks looking sloppy?

Garrett Gilbert
Credit: Orlando Apollos

This is a tough one to call, was it sloppy quarterback play or is the Apollos’ defense just that good? If I had to guess I would lean more towards a bad day for the QBs. I saw a lot of underthrown balls during route drills, overthrown in offense vs. defense drills, and balls delivered late or behind. Should Apollos fans be worried? Probably not. This is a very talented core group, Appleby with the big arm, Anderson as the dual threat, and Gilbert with the experience. One thing is for sure, the receivers are happy to have these guys slinging them the ball. The excitement is palpable between the QBs and their offense. 

2. Defense is fast!

Speaking of the defense being good, let me tell you, they are good AND fast! The corners are staying glued to the receivers and the linebackers can keep pace with the running backs. That’s not to mention the d-lineman getting after the quarterbacks! Fans may be expecting the offense to be explosive, but this defense is going to bring plenty of excitement!


De’Veon Smith Credit: Josh Mousel

Hard to tell exactly will be THE GUY in the backfield, but that isn’t a bad thing. The running backs can all catch, have excellent vision, and seem to enjoy running through contact. With guys like Akeem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson, and Ryan Green defenses will be on their toes against these dual-purpose backs. And I would be remiss to mention 228 lbs back De’Veon Smith, who had 6, 6, and 10 touchdowns in his final three years at Michigan. If the receivers don’t scare the defenses enough, the running backs surely won’t help put them at ease!

4. When it comes to WR, speed kills

Rannell Hall
Rannell Hall Credit: Josh Mousel

I know the title indicates speed, but I couldn’t possibly bring myself to mention the WRs and not mention Donteea Dye Jr. This man catches EVERYTHING! In the two practices I have attended, Dye has had one ball that he couldn’t haul in (that is catchable). That one miscue? A defender with a perfectly timed swipe on a ball thrown slightly behind. He was able to haul in multiple tipped balls in heavy traffic. That is the end of my fanboying over Dye Jr. 

Back to the speed aspect, Marvin Bracy-Williams Jr. and Rannell Hall are as fast as advertised. On one particular play, Bracy-Williams slipped on a stutter and was able to get up, track the ball, and make the catch down the sideline. It was incredible. In a “points” league, this speed can wreak havoc on opposing teams. 

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