Many have looked at the Maulers as one of the lesser teams in the league. The record was there for the obvious take. But if you dig deeper, the team was not that far off. Defense produced the most players with good tape to get an NFL spot. The special teams has had a long snapper and a kicker get the NFL call too. Long snapper Mitchell Fraboni made an NFL tackle on his debut for the Denver Broncos. The team produced decent tape for Bailey Gaither to get a call as well at wideout. The obvious oppurtunity for growth is the guy taking the snaps.
Kyle Lauletta was the first pick by the Maulers and by mid-season was on a different team. Josh Love was the second QB taken and followed suit as he switched alliances around mid-season. Vad Lee came in and led the team to their lone victory over the Houston Gamblers but was not consistent. Roland Rivers was given a partial opportunity and did decent when given more than one drive. The quarterback position was in need of an identity. The teams that succeeded in this league had an identity when taking snaps. And QB depth was proven vital as well when you realize that both championship teams in the championship game had to give snaps to different quarterbacks. New Maulers GM Lonnie Young with the coaching staff has taken notice and has signed three quarterbacks to battle it out with Lee and Rivers.
First, lets examine the quarterbacks that may return. Rivers and Lee have not confirmed that they will return but most likely would be involved with the battle for snaps.
Vad Lee gets all the publicity for the Maulers. He was added one week and led the team to victory the following week without being in Birmingham for long. He studied and took notes before getting his opportunity with the Maulers, but as time went on, performance did not improve. As we all know QBR is not the end all be all to rank quarterbacks, but being 12th out of 13 qualified passers is not where you want to be. Also, having the second worst INT per attempt for quarterbacks that attempted at least 100 passes is not a good stat. Vad Lee, while he may be the favorite to be the starter for next season in the eyes of people that did not fully pay attention, has to have an impressive camp to remain QB1.
Roland Rivers deserves an opportunity. The Slippery Rock legend had only two games where he was the number one option. Week 10 was his best week against the Michigan Panthers. Rivers went 11-14 with a TD in his limited time. The other game where he was given a large chunk of opportunities was in Week 8 against the Generals. Rivers was solid throwing for over 200 yards.
Two hundred passing yards in a single game was only achieved by two Maulers quarterbacks during the season (Love and Rivers). He ran the ball as well. He accumulated 3 total scores in the four games that he appeared in, but he was only given a fair share of snaps in two games. Rivers is an interesting candidate for this season if he comes back in camp for season two.
As ugly as the above sounds, the moves made create an interesting battle. Signing Chase Fourcade, James Morgan and Troy Williams gives the team a variety of options and each bring something different to the battle.
Chase Fourcade is the Nicholls State legend. He was a four year starter for the Louisana team and has been working every single day to get a chance at the next level. No moment will be too big for Fourcade as he started and almost pulled off a giant upset in one of his first freshman starts in Athens, GA against the University of Georgia. Fourcade is mobile enough with a strong arm. He owns a quick release and loves to put the ball in tight windows. Unlike others on the team, Fourcade always looks forward.
He doesn't get hung up on mistakes or argue with coaches. He focuses on how to help his team. A leader that leads by example would be huge for this team. The HUB football competitor was in the CFL but was released even after he outperformed his competition in preseason. Most likely a victim of the National roster decisions that take place in Canada. A true gamer that owns all of the major records at Nicholls State. Some would say, a quarterback that mauls.
A gunslinger is always beloved by football fans and James Morgan can sling. Growing up in Wisconsin, Morgan had a front row seat to watch Favre and Rodgers. The former New York Jets draft pick is patient until he finds the right option. He is not afraid of taking a hit as he waits for his wideouts to get open. He is another one that loves to fit the ball in tight windows.
Morgan spent most of his collegiate career in the gun at Bowling Green and Florida International. He is a 6-4 pocket passer and needs a opportunity at the next level. If Morgan gets the shot, the offense has to be very traditional as his mobility is not there. When shifted out of the pocket, he is quick to reset with decent footwork. Morgan has a cult following and may be the alt-football fans pick.
The most interesting prospect out of the three may be Troy Williams. Williams was highly recruited dual threat quarterback. He landed in Washington before finishing his collegiate career at Utah. Williams has the mobility that is like his favorite player growing up, Donovan McNabb. He was benched his senior year even though he was a captain and handled that with great skill. Being a QB for the USFL, handling adversity is must have skill, and Troy has proven that he can do that.
Troy commands the pocket when he needs to but if it is not there, he has shown no fear to run. Troy will hit the crossing routes and if he becomes the chosen option, Williams will bring a dual threat run and gun option to the team.
The quarterback room is crowded but camp will sort it out. The stability of the position needs to improve for this team to take off. I think Kirby Wilson, John Tomlinson and company have a tough decision to make, but it is a vital one necessary for this team's success.
Follow me on all social media platforms @hammertime_web as I cover the Maulers for the USFL Network. The only Maulers beat specialist in the Universe! #HammerTime