Atlanta Legends Week 5 Preview: Georgia on my Mind against the Express

Legends week 5

Credit: Dane Johnston

SEC Showdown 

Like many people in the state of Georgia, I am a fan of the SEC. Even though the school I pull for is a little north of Georgia (University of South Carolina Gamecocks, spurs up), I’m still especially excited for this SEC quarterback showdown. This isn’t the first time Atlanta Legends QB Aaron Murray, the former University of Georgia star, has faced off against the LSU product, QB Zach Mettenberger, of the Memphis Express. The last time the two squared off was in 2013, coined the Battle of the Roommates (they were roommates at UGA before Mettenberger was dismissed from the team), where Murray’s No. 9 Bulldogs took down the No. 6 Tigers 44-41.

Now they face off again, this time on a Sunday at 755 Hank Aaron Drive, Atlanta, GA. We should be in store for a great matchup of two teams fresh off their first victory of the season. Well, more like: as good of matchup, we could get from two 1-3 teams. How can the Legend’s win? Well, you better keep reading to find out. 

Scott Cunningham / Getty Images

On Offense: Hold on to the Ball 

Going into week four the Legends led the AAF in turnovers. Last week against the Hotshots they had only one turnover. The turnover occurred on the Legend’s opening drive as Matt Simms was strip-sacked in the red zone. Also, this happened to be the play where Matt Simms got injured. Murray held off on throwing an interception for the remainder of the game.

However, if you, unfortunately, remember back in week one, Murray threw a pick on his only drive late in the game. Last week against the Fleet, the Express forced four turnovers. Arguably the second best defensive duo in the league (I’m giving the edge to the Legends Safeties) are Memphis LBs DeMarquis Gates and Drew Jackson. The pair combined are responsible for 46 total tackles, 8 TFL, 1 INT, and forced fumbles. Singletary’s defense allowed Memphis to come back from being down 20-6 last week (plus Fleet QB Nelson getting injured). Against this defense, things can get out of control quickly if Atlanta is sloppy with the ball. 

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On Defense: Build Off Last Week

The Atlanta Legends defense held an offense averaging 24 points per game to 11 points. That’s what I like to call, dominance. Tyson Graham, Jr. and Ed Reynolds, Jr. (ya I don’t think my “Kings Court” nickname stuck) need to rattle Mettenberger’s confidence. The Express did complete one 39 yard pass last week, but he generally does not go deep very often (1 completion on 4 attempts). The dink and dunk game is an area where Tyson Graham excels at establishing a presence. If you can take the short passing game away from the Express and force them into third down (3-15 last week) or Mett to through it deep, I think they might be just alright on defense.

For all the critics out there who would bash me for not addressing the ground game; yes, Memphis does has have Zac Stacy, but Jhurell Pressley had 140 yards. How did that turn out for the Hotshots? So, I expect there is nothing the Legends can do to stop him.

Captain’s Final Take: Please, do not go for it on 4th and Goal…

Ken Zampese served as the new OC for the Legends, and his presence was definitely felt last week. The 13 year NFL coaching veteran, I’m going to say, had an immense impact on Aaron Murray’s performance. He has coached the likes of Kurt Warner, Andy Dalton, and last year, Baker Mayfield. If anyone can get the most out of Murray, it’s Zampese. The only thing that left me bewildered was, why did we go for it on fourth and goal, twice! Overall I was pleased with Zampese performance except for this one area. We need all the points we can get against Memphis, so please, no more fake field goals.

Prediction: Express 14, Legends 18


Other Keys to Victory

  • Establish a lead back
  • Give Murray time in the pocket 
  • Give Jeff Overbaugh another shout out during the broadcast 
  • I know you can’t stop him, but at least contain Zac Stacy
  • Score points in the red zone
  • Aaron Murray, I’m not totally sold on you yet

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