USFL Top Plays of Week 1: Stallions QBs steal show with best run, touchdown

USFL Top Plays of Week 1: Stallions QBs steal show with best run, touchdown

Apr 18

A pair of Birmingham quarterbacks exemplified why the Stallions are the defending USFL champions, with each accounting for touchdowns that were among the best plays of Week 1.

Alex McGough and J'Mar Smith combined for three touchdowns in a 27-10 win over the New Jersey Generals. Their efforts earned McGough recognition for the best run, and Smith for the best touchdown.

Following the first slate of games, "Skip and Shannon: Undisputed," "Speak," and "First Things First" revealed their top picks for the best plays and highlights from Week 1.

Best Throw: Josh Love, QB, Michigan Panthers

Panthers QB Josh Love had an outstanding opening performance in a 29-13 win over the Houston Gamblers. Love earned Week 1 Offensive Player of the Week honors after setting the USFL's single-game completion percentage record (90%). His day was highlighted by this 34-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Joe Walker. 

Shannon Sharpe on Love's throw: "Great throw, great catch, great route … Right now, he's probably the MVP. It's early in the season, but he's playing really, really well."

Skip Bayless on Love's throw: "I love that Josh Love did stand tall and strong, because he took a shot in the mouth and delivered on time. The Green Bay Packers hope that Jordan Love can get off to as hot a start as Josh Love has."

Best Run: Alex McGough, QB, Birmingham Stallions

QB McGough showcased his dual-threat abilities on an impressive 29-yard scamper in which he barreled past incoming defenders all the way to the end zone. His run put the Stallions up by two scores, and the game out of reach for the opposing Generals.

Sharpe on McGough's run: "That was a great play, heads up play by the quarterback."

Bayless on McGough's run: "He can play, he was a seventh-round draft pick by Seattle, so he's got some NFL future."

Best Catch: Ryan McDaniel, WR, Memphis Showboats

Showboats receiver Ryan McDaniel demonstrated great jump-ball ability when he went up to snag a 29-yard touchdown reception from QB Brady White. McDaniel's height and catch radius proved to be a huge advantage over opposing defensive backs. 

Sharpe on McDaniel's catch: "This is just a guy making a play. The quarterback puts it up, and he jumps up, elevates and makes a play. It's really simple football, my guy is better than your guy, so I'm going to give my guy a chance to make a play." 

Bayless on McDaniel's catch: "That reminded me a little bit of Terrell Owens … because this kid is 6-foot-3. He's got a big body, an NFL-sized receiver body." 

Best Touchdown: J'Mar Smith, QB, to Austin Watkins, WR, Birmingham Stallions

Smith set the tone for the defending champs with a 61-yard touchdown throw to Watkins on the Stallions' first offensive play of the game. The Stallions wouldn't look back after this touchdown as they went on to dominate the Generals in a 27-10 win.

David Helman on Smith's throw to Watkins: "Untouched for a touchdown. If that's your first play of the new season, you've got a good chance at another banner." 

Best Special Teams Play & Camera Play: Isiah Hennie, PR, Pittsburgh Maulers

While the Maulers were trailing 15-9 with less than six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Hennie returned a punt 82 yards for a crucial score to tie the score at 15. The Maulers would go on to lose 22-15 to the New Orleans Breakers, but Hennie's clutch return kept the Maulers in the game.

This play also showcased the USFL's drone cam, one of two special camera angles the USFL is featuring along with the helmet cam. This let fans check out all the best angles of Hennie's touchdown.

Joy Taylor on Hennie's return: "Isiah Hennie surprised the Breakers and takes the punt return all the way back for the touchdown — 82 yards for Hennie as the drone cam followed him stride for stride. I love the camera shots." 

Best Technology Play: Philadelphia Stars and Memphis Showboats third-and-6

Along with new cameras, the USFL showed off some technological innovations for professional football, including a more advanced first-down marker. This technology came in handy on a third-and-6 in the first quarter when Showboats WR Vinny Papale caught a pass right at the first-down line. With this tech, the officials were able to quickly identify and grant the Showboats a first down which would ultimately lead to their first touchdown on the day. 

Kelvin Wildes on the best tech play of the weekend: "Third-and-6, Vinny Papale made the catch right at the line … So you want to bring out the chains? No way! Bring out the official line." 

Nick Wright on the best tech play of the weekend: "Oh it's like tennis!" 

Best Huddle Song: C.J. Perez, C, Philadelphia Stars

Aside from his blocking abilities, Perez displayed his pipes as he belted out the Journey classic, "Don't Stop Believing." His huddle speech clearly worked, as the Stars went on to defeat the Showboats in a tight 27-23 win. 

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