Spurrier’s play­ful digs, Apol­los’ 2-0 record set­ting high stan­dards

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Kevin Allen

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.

PHE­LAN M. EBENHACK/AP

Or­lando Apol­los coach Steve Spurrier has poked fun at the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins and the Ten­nessee Vol­un­teers in his first two weeks.

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