By RJ Young
FOX Sports Writer
But there was an unmistakable smile across his face after leading the Stars to a 30-23 victory against the Pittsburgh Maulers in the Keystone State Battle. The win moved the Stars into a tie for first place in the North Division alongside the New Jersey Generals who won their first game of the season on Friday night.
With 272 passing yards, three touchdown passes and just one interception against the Maulers, Scott played the kind of football many who have watched him since he played at Division-III Occidental expected to see.
Scott is the only quarterback in the league to pass for at least 200 yards in each game so far.
Stars coach Bart Andrus had no doubt that Scott would build a rapport with Philadelphia’s receiving corps — let alone the offense. It was simply a matter of time.
But the system that Andrus employs is much more about giving the offense a concept to interpret — rather than a narrow play to execute — based on what the defense shows before and after the snap.
"Coach [Andrus] has a great system," Scott said. "But with this system, there's a lot of reading between myself and the receivers as well — one-high [safety], two-high [safeties] looks. We know if we get quarters or cover six, whatever it is, the receivers have to read that, too. And then we just have to gain that trust."
Andrus mentioned that nearly 18 months had passed since he and Scott coached and played, respectively, in a live game.
"It just takes time to knock some rust off a little bit — for all of them," Andrus said of his 38-man active roster. "I mean for us, defensively and offensively, the offensive lineman, getting used to game speed. It's so different from practice speed."
And that certainly seemed the case. After giving up six sacks in Week 1 — three to New Orleans Breakers defensive end Davin Bellamy — the Stars cut that number to four and gave Scott more time to work through his progressions.
As evidence, Scott threw the ball for 70 more yards on Saturday than he did last Sunday (202) — with the same number of attempts (36). And while he spread the ball to seven receivers, eight of his 26 completions went to former Florida International wideout Maurice Alexander.
Alexander accounted for 87 receiving yards and two touchdowns — this from a player who was a late addition to the USFL’s draft pool.
"We actually held up — it was our pick — and we held up, we stalled and did everything we could to get our receiver coach the time to actually look at him because he was a late addition," Andrus said. "And we looked at about half a dozen plays. That's about all we had time for. And we selected him, and, man, I’m sure glad we did."
Maulers make a big leap forward
The Maulers were the only team in the USFL that failed to score a touchdown in Week 1. The Maulers managed only 186 yards in their season-opener against the Tampa Bay Bandits, and just 97 of those yards came through the air.
On Saturday, the offense sprang to life midway through the second quarter. Maulers quarterback Josh Love found his groove with 225 passing yards, and Pittsburgh outgained Philadelphia, 348-303.
Maulers coach Kirby Wilson still isn’t pleased with his team’s performance, but he admitted one reason the offense played better on Saturday is that he was better.
"First of all," Wilson said, "I improved as the play-caller. And they couldn't get better until I got better. So, I got better in that area. Therefore, they were allowed to be better."
The Maulers' defense also had some moments, including a sack and a pick on the opening drive.
Jaylon McLain-Sapp made his interception with one hand.
Later, Maulers defensive end Carlo Kemp fought through a block to a scrambling Scott for a strip-sack-fumble. McLain-Sapp scooped the ball and ran it back 79 yards for the Maulers' first TD of the season.
McLain-Sapp left the game in the second half with a hamstring injury. Wilson said he wasn’t sure how serious the injury was, but it was serious enough that he could not finish the game.
"That young man is as tough as any player on our team pound-for-pound," Wilson said. "He just couldn't go."
The Maulers' defense created three turnovers in the first half, helping the offense climb back from a 14-3 deficit for a chance to win the game with their last possession. That effort was thwarted, though, when Stars corner Channing Stribling picked off Love’s tipped pass with 38 seconds left to play.
"Man, I'm so sick of him in practice already," said Scott of Stribling. "I'm just happy that other quarterbacks get to go through my pain that I gotta go through five days a week."
The first 3-point conversion in professional football history
Following a Scott-to-Alexander touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, Andrus chose to go for the full three points on the extra point try.
With the ball spotted at the 10-yard line, Scott found Paul Terry in the flat to turn a 27-23 lead into a 30-23 edge with 8:51 left to play.
"Well, it fit," Andrus said. "I mean it just fit at that particular moment in time."
It was the first time the new rule established by the USFL had been put to use, and it was right on time. Andrus knew that if the Stars converted the three-point try they’d force the Maulers to have to march down the field, score a touchdown and then decide whether to go for two or kick the tying extra point — with a kicker who missed one of his three extra-point tries.
"So, it just unfolded that it was the right decision, the correct decision, for us at that moment in time," Andrus said.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The No. 1 Ranked Show with RJ Young." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young, and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube. He is not on a StepMill.