Four games into the first season of Alliance Football and the reviews are a hit! High-quality football (Not you Atlanta and Memphis), transparency in officiating and solid attendance both at the stadiums and on television. Social media and sports fans are raving reviews. While there is always room for improvement, it’s hard to say the Alliance has been a disappointment. I’m not here to sing the praises of the Alliance this time though. This one is all about the smackdown Birmingham just layed on Memphis. Let’s get to it!
- Birmingham defense keeping the Express grounded.
Christian Hackenberg never really was able to get established as a passer in this game. He finished the day 10 of 23 for 87 yards passing and an interception. He was able to find guys on middle slants a few times for respectable gains, however. Credit the Birmingham Iron defensive staff for the creative ways they adjusted to the new limited blitz rules. With only one penalty against them for an illegal blitz, they kept Hackenberg off balance for most of the game. However, the offensive line for Memphis was able to establish itself in the run game for Zac Stacey, Terrance Magee, and Anthony Manzo-Lewis. The zone blocking was a definite bright spot on a day when there weren’t many to be found.
- +1 turnover margin
The Iron defense was able to secure three turnovers on the day, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The offense gave away two fumbles however on back to back drives in the 3rd quarter. It looked like Memphis was going to be able to put up points following Trent Richardson’s fumble, driving to the Birmingham 8 yard line. After a failed 4th down conversion deep in Birmingham territory, those hopes were extinguished.
- Stars and Standouts
Jamar Summers: This dude had himself a game! With two tackles (1 for a loss), three passes defended, an interception and a forced fumble this was the Defensive MVP for the game. He made his mark early with a pass deflection in the 1st qtr and followed with an Interception on the very next play.
Jonathon Massaquoi: The former Troy Trojan made Christian Hackenberg miserable all game long. With five tackles (3 for loss), two sacks and three hits to the QB, Massaquoi made a statement to the entire Alliance. Opposing offenses will put a circle around his name in film study from here on in.
Beniquez Brown: 4 solo tackles (2 for loss) and a fumble recovery, the Miss State alumni made Zac Stacy earn his stats today. Brown is another player coaches will have to game plan for this year. It looks like a pick your poison situation for teams lining up against the Iron Linebackers.
Nick Novak: This guy was huge in this game. Going 4 of 4 on field goals he scored 12 points for the struggling Iron offense. He showed that he still has plenty of leg, connecting from 47 yards out.
Luis Perez – 19 of 33 for 252 yards and a 2 pt Conversion.
Trent Richardson – 23 carries 58 yards, 2 Touchdowns, and a 2 pt conversion.
Quinton Patton – 4 receptions on 9 targets for 107 yards.
- Room for Improvement
It seemed like the IRON receivers couldn’t catch a cold for most of the game. Despite Patton’s 107 yard performance, he dropped more balls than he caught. Amba Etta-Tawo had the same problem. Luis Perez delivered catchable balls on nearly every pass to his receivers. They let him down too many times.
Birmingham’s offensive line was surprisingly better in pass protection than in the run game. The numbers show it too. Not one back averaged over 3 yards per carry. Pulling guards couldn’t get in position to open up lanes on zone runs. No one was able to get any sort of push to open gaps at the line of scrimmage. Don’t let the two Trent Richardson touchdowns fool you. That line has to get better, immediately.
While the front 5 of the Iron was able to cause plenty of problems against Memphis’ passing attack, the run game was a different story. The first contact on runners against the IRON didn’t come from the big guys up front. It was the linebackers and DBs stepping up to stop Zac Stacy. With such a talented defensive line this is not acceptable, nor will it win many more games like this.
The offense seemed to fold into itself when inside the Memphis 20 yard line. Although Nick “The Kick” Novak connected on all four tries, the IRON has to come away with touchdowns in those situations. The red-zone offense needs to be a big point of work this week in practice.
- Game Summary
With a 26-0 shutout on the opening weekend of a brand new league being too critical is somewhat difficult. Yes, there were many bright spots in this game. There were only two penalties called against the IRON. Luis Perez looks the part of a starting QB. The Offensive Line has the potential to be great. The receivers can create separation from DBs. The secondary was solid. The coaching staff was well prepared, and the game plan was sufficiently executed.
With 9 more games to play against teams such as Orlando and Arizona, Birmingham has to get better now. You cant drop 9 passes as a group or give the other team the ball twice per game and get blown off the ball in the run game. It’s hard to win games like that. Salt Lake comes to Legion Field for a week two matchup. Let’s hope the positives get better, and the negatives improve drastically over the course of the week. Until next time. # ForgeOn 1-0.