Spurrier’s playful digs, Apollos’ 2-0 record setting high standards
In the first two weeks of play in the fledgling Alliance of American Football, coach Steve Spurrier has proved he can still be a straw that stirs the drink.
The 73-year-old Orlando Apollos coach boasts the AAF’s most dynamic offense, and his entertaining presence has given the professional league instant visibility.
In Week 2, Spurrier’s Apollos engineered a come-from-behind, 37-29 win against the San Antonio Commanders. Spurrier’s latest edition of the Fun-and Gun offense generated three pass completions of 50 or more yards.
Spurrier also hasn’t disappointed as the league’s No. 1 salesman. In the first two weeks, he has tried to recruit Tim Tebow, took a tongue-in-cheek jab at the Washington Redskins and then trolled the Tennessee Volunteers on Sunday when he said the Commanders’ Alamodome was just as loud as Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium when fans sing “Rocky Top,” the school’s official fight song.
Creative Spurrier is a winner in our Week 2 Winners and Losers. Here are others on the list:
❚ Winner: Garrett Gilbert, Orlando Apollos. With 393 passing yards this week and a league-leading 620 in two weeks, he might be earning another hard look from the NFL. He has made some impressive throws in Orlando’s 2-0 start.
❚ Loser: Memphis Express. Coach Mike Singletary’s Express are 0-2 after blowing a fourth-quarter lead to fall 20-18 to the Arizona Hotshots. The team’s offense hasn’t blossomed under quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Over two weeks, he is 24-for-48 for 183 yards. The Memphis crowd of 11,980 for the first home game was also a disappointment.
❚ Winner: San Diego Fleet. More than 20,000 fans showed up for the Fleet’s first home game, and they delivered a 24-12 victory against the Atlanta Legends. Elusive Ja’Quan Gardner ran 15 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. The former Humboldt State star was cut by the 49ers last fall.
❚ Loser: Salt Lake City Stallions’ passing game. The team, coached by Dennis Erickson, has used three quarterbacks (Austin Allen, Josh Woodrum and Matt Linehan), and they are a combined 32-for-66. A completion percentage below 50 percent doesn’t work in any league.
❚ Winner: San Diego QB Philip Nelson’s no-look pass. While it wasn’t the best of days for Nelson in his first start (14 of 30 for 142 yards), he completed a ridiculous granny-style, over-the shoulder pass that will appear on football highlight films for years to come.
❚ Loser: AAF quarterback parade. While the AAF is supposed to be a development league, quarterback play in general hasn’t been as sharp as coaches hoped. The eight AAF teams have used 18 quarterbacks. Only four quarterbacks have averaged more than 200 yards per game.
❚ Winner: Defensive end Karter Schult, Salt Lake Stallions. Had two sacks, six tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery in a loss to the Birmingham Iron. He has three sacks over the first two weeks. He was cut by the Panthers last fall.
❚ Loser: Atlanta Legends. The team is 0-2 with 18 points scored over two weeks, despite having quarterback Matt Simms completing 60.4 percent of his passes. One major problem: Atlanta’s defense gives up 161 yards per game rushing.
Orlando Apollos coach Steve Spurrier has poked fun at the Washington Redskins and the Tennessee Volunteers in his first two weeks.