Images of the Tampa Bay Vipers will have a different quarterback in their second XFL game, but the real question is which backup will get the call to start in Seattle on Saturday?
First, for the second straight practice, Vipers starter Aaron Murray, has been unable to participate with what the team says is a foot injury:
— XFLNewsHub (@XFLNewsHub) February 12, 2020
Murray, who still remains the all-time leading yardage passer in SEC history from the University of Georgia, wasn’t particularly effective, especially in the red zone in the Vipers 23 – 3 defeat to the New York Guardians in game number one.
As we wrote earlier this week, 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 in the loss.
Murray was able to finish the game, but now the injury has been revealed and backup quarterbacks Taylor Cornelius, Chase Litton and Quinton Flowers have been splitting duties with the anticipation that one of them will get the starting nod.
Flowers (photo above), who’s listed as a QB/RB/WR, played quarterback some Sunday and a few times lined up out wide taking a jet sweep and faking another one. He had a QB draw in the third quarter getting the Vipers to a first and goal, but 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.
Vipers coach Marc Trestman, who’s the former coach of the Chicago Bears and a Grey Cup champion in the CFL, has not yet me clear which quarterback he would go to in place of his starter? However, there will be large sentiment that it should be Flowers, a former local star at USF who smashed numerous school and Conference records for total yardage and rushing yards as a dual-threat quarterback.
Cornelius has been designated as the backup to Murray and he is a former Big 12 quarterback at Oklahoma State who thrrew 32 touchdown passes in 2018. Litton, who quarterbacked at Marshall is also a local high school product having played at Tampa’s Wharton High School. And, he threw for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in his final season at Marshall in 2017.
One other factor is the Vipers have a shorter week after Sunday’s game with the Guardians, as they will be traveling Friday to play Seattle on Saturday afternoon. And, that means Trestman quickly has to make a decision on Thursday as to what the plan will be.