It was not the debut that they were looking for, as the Tampa Bay Vipers dropped their inaugural XFL game Sunday to the New York Guardians 23-3. After a lot of excitement, and high scoring XFL games yesterday, the Vipers put up the first ugly performance of the league.
Both teams looked sloppy at times in a defensive battle for most of the game. Tampa Native and former Georgia Star, Aaron Murray struggled for most of the afternoon. After going down 7-0 to open the game, the Vipers offense got to the Guardians goal line, but that’s where Murray tossed up an ill-advised pass in the back of the endzone that was under thrown and intercepted. That was the beginning of the end for the Vipers.
Murray would throw another interception later in the first half ending another promising drive, and would finish the day 16-34 throwing for 231 yards a touchdown, and the two interceptions.
Former USF Bulls star QB Quinton Flowers started the first few plays of the second half. During the best drive of the day for the Vipers Flowers played quarterback and a few times lined up out wide taking a jet sweep and faking another one. He had a QB draw getting the Vipers to a first and goal where he handed the ball off then exited for Murray.
Flowers relieved Murray, again, with the score 23-3, finishing with 5 rushes for 34 yards and was 1-2 in the air with a 37 yard completion.
And, at this point, Flowers looked like the better option of the two for this offense and to gain excitement for the team and fans eager to root the Vipers on at home.
Former Bears and CFL coach, Marc Trestman (above), will have to make a quick decision on what must be done to spark his offense.
On the ground, the Vipers averaged over 5 yards a carry as a team. De’Veon Smith and former Seminole Jacques Patrick split reps at an almost even rate. Smith had more carries with 16 compared to Patrick’s 8, but Patrick was featured more in the passing game.
The Vipers were down for most of the game and could never commit to the run. With Flowers in the game, the run game was opened even more with the read-option in play.
Defensively, the Vipers were able to contain the New York run for most of the game, as they only had 44 yards. However, they struggled in the secondary, when former Raiders and Penn St. QB Matt McGloin wanted to throw, he did.
McGloin finished 15-29 for 182 yards and a TD with no INTs, and he ran in a two yard score, as well.
The Vipers will have a lot to work on at practice this week to prepare for the Seattle Dragons, who also lost in week one at D.C.
Plenty of questions will come for Trestman, known for his tutoring of QBs, about what he will do, if anything, under center?