What Oliver Luck described to us at the Dallas Chalk Talk as “The first official XFL football action of the new league” was a success at the first Summer Showcase for, in this instance the Dallas team. I was lucky enough to be on-hand covering the event for us at https://xflplus.com and at the invitation of https://xfl2k.com to write a recap article for the event at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Which you can read here: https://xfl2k.com/news/dallas-xfl-summer-showcase-recap/. I will have some of that plus more from the interviews and the Chalk Talk below. I would like to give special thanks to the good folks at xfl2k.com for asking me to write. It was good doing something a little different than this TWTW style of column. We will do some things in the future as well.
I am also an alum of UTA but hadn’t been on campus for quite some time. It was good to walk back through and then visit Maverick Stadium for the workouts on June 6th. Upon arriving the gracious XFL team members at the gate checked my RSVP for the media list and issued a Media Pass for field access and interview circles after the workouts. Everyone a part of the XFL was great, from check-in to Oliver Luck and Bob Stoops, big thanks to them.
On field portions were fun and encouraging to watch
The players were told to arrive a couple hours before the media, so they were already on the field, divided by white and Navy jerseys for offense and defense respectively, when we were granted access. I stood in the beaches a bit getting a good view of the entire field different groups on the field before moving down to the field later.
You can read more details in my xfl2k.com recap noted above but a quick couple things were: Lineman and interior players were together on one end doing cone drills and later one-on-one scrums with one holding the pad. A small group of skill position players in the middle practicing what appeared to be the double-forward pass. The other end of the field had QB/RB/WR doing at first simple curl routes, then quick outs and progressing to deep go routes down the sideline. They did these and a few cone drills for the next couple hours.
Landry Jones stuck out just after a few passes of watching each in the group, standing tall and firing the ball tight and accurate most every throw during the sessions we viewed. Christine Michael looked full of energy and ready to go even when waiting for his turn. And he of course showed good moves when getting the ball for his reps. Bob Stoops also mentioned Ahmad Dixon and Frank Alexander looking sharp in the drills.
There were many good players at these workouts and the 100 spots were fully filled. And I know from watching Twitterverse a good number of players are still vying and hopeful to get a shot at a later Showcase. So, the competition was and will be tough. Oliver Luck and the coaches are taking their time and I believe will be making good on the league’s stated goal of quality football.
After the workouts we gathered in the media circle where they first brought over Oliver Luck. He mentioned how having Bob there was awesome and “Even Longhorn fans seemed to like him.” Which I can certainly vouch for as true being a product of their school system and now more than excited Bob Stoops is leading XFL Dallas. He then said the great thing about Bob as a coach is, “Bob Stoops doesn’t do gimmicks, right? He plays real football and that’s what we want to play…. he’s the personification of what our league really wants to be, which is a good, high-quality, fast-passed up-tempo league.”
Next came Bob Stoops and he mentioned Landry Jones looking good and how he is the 3rd leading passer in yards in NCAA history, “He’s a great player, fun seeing him again… and he threw the ball great.” He was also asked about Daryl Johnston and what he can bring to the table, “Great leader, really smart guy and really excited to be working with him….he can help me in a lot of ways” He elaborated by saying he may not like the GM duties as much as coaching and since Daryl has been a GM before he might pass off some of those duties to him and he is already doing a great job for them.
Daryl Johnston stepped before us next “It’s been a learning experience, but football is football.” What he said he was referring to was he knows what makes a good player when he sees it but not always sure why he is seeing it. He is learning how to better convey what he is seeing and putting things into perspective to later have conversions about the why and selling a player for when he goes to Bob Stoops.
He was asked about his goals in this job and aspirations down the road including possible NFL GM roles, “My ultimate goal in this is to win a championship in the XFL, for Bob Stoops.” But decisions for GM roles in the future “would be great” and how it wasn’t just about the players getting back into football. ”This is good for coaches, this is good for trainers all the supplemental staff you have on your team and it’s also good for people in the front office.” I will make a point that it is good for up and comers in the media and people running fan groups/sites as well. I am seeing those grow first hand this past year.
Chalk Talk was a Bonus
After the workouts season ticket depositors/holders and the media were invited to the Chalk Talk, which was a presentation then Q&A session with Oliver Luck and Bob Stoops. The presentation was by Luck and was mostly over league mission and direction that us xflsuperfans have learned to know and love. He also then went over OT, punts and kick off rules. The OT rules with the 44 players alternating plays from the 5, and the 5-yard Halo on punts are set. They are still finalizing the kickoff he said but had the basic formation down. Kicker at one 35, 10 players from each team a few yards apart around the other 35-yard line and then one returner back behind those 20 players. The 20 in the middle can move once the ball is caught.
I was able to ask him about the 20 in the middle as I was curious if there were any limitation on how many and where they can move once the ball is caught. Luck said there were no restrictions on number of people going forward or back yet, but the receiving team could not retreat more than 5 yards. There will also be a restriction on how and where you can move if you are eligible for a reverse or pitch back, but all the nuances have not been finalized yet.
When asked about celebration or penalties on celebration he answered “Yeah, were gonna have ‘em!” referring to celebrations of course. Even mentioning there will be something in the TV language requiring 5 seconds or so after a score to keep watching/filming or whatnot. Basically, stuff about watching for and filming celebrations.
One of the other things of note Oliver Luck mentioned was that the divisions will indeed be East and West. Divided just as you would think with Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston in West and St. Louis, Tampa Bay, New York and Washington DC in East. And that playoff seeding, although not decided yet could go across division boundaries. They just want to try and figure out the fairest way to get the two best teams in the championship game.
Bob Stoops joined the discussion for the Q&A after the presentation by Luck. One thing I like that he mentioned was how UTA students are more and more really wanting a football team to come back on campus. He mentioned how he would like to fulfill that role for them for the time being, until football does return to UTA. He even said he would like to possibly schedule some practices there at the school now and then. I assume coach Stoops knows a thing or two about colleague football fans and can bring a fair bit of them from UTA to the XFL fandom. Especially with the XFL home stadium right in their backyard at Globe Life Park.
Everyone I met or otherwise seen as far as XFL staff/volunteers seem excited to be there. Even the people running the slides in Chalk Talk seemed excited, asking a question of coach Stoops themselves. I believe the questions was about rivalries and who he might most want to coach against first, and how he himself was consider coaching royalty, at which point he started to answer. But Stoop’s answer actually made me forget part of the question. He was just so humble and somewhat grinning just a little “I don’t know about all that.” he chuckled, at first, “I haven’t even won a game yet. I am zero and zero.” he then said matter-of-factly.
The remark kind of fit most people at the event and who were a part of it. Humble, anxious, nice, respectful of the process and genuinely happy to be there. The entire event had a really good feel to it. A feel the XFL people and team made happen. A good example was the Chalk Talk itself. They didn't have to do that. It didn't benefit the player/team building at all. They did it purely for the fans and it was good.
Houston Summer Showcase
The other main news item since the last TWTW article was the very next day of course. The XFL Houston Summer Showcase. Stephan Rachuk had a great write up on https://xfl2k.com so please go there for all the details and follow along of how the day went. Since he had such a good write up on Houston and we partnered up covering Texas, I will keep mine short here. But a couple players @xfl2kcom saw looking good were:
BYU QB Tanner Mangum looking good. Good strength and ball control on the long and short hitting most all 100% of his targets. On the defense @xfl2kcom mentioned SAF Shaquille Lewis as having good speed and consistent in all his drills. While also having fun and looking to be enjoying his opportunity. @xfl2kcom also had some things about the Chalk Talk so go check out his recap.
It is going to be interesting to see what comes next weekend with the Summer Showcases in New Jersey (New York Team) and Virginia (Washington DC Team). I won’t be at those unfortunately, but as always will try and point out some of the better coverage I can find. By the way, you either forgot right away (or didn’t care) or been wondering these few paragraphs who Bob Stoops said he might most like to fire up and play first; Jon Hayes. Isn’t that two callouts for Mr. Hayes?
+Plus Random Thoughts
Last weekend I went to the Alamo in San Antonio, TX. That in and of itself is indeed cool, but I had been there twice before already. And not all that long ago in the grand scheme of things. But this time was different, maybe third time is the charm. I had seen everything there of course, but maybe I took more time to read things, or go slower and orderly in the museum following the chronology of the event. Then I better felt when they described having almost no food but then finding extra bushels of corn in abandoned houses just so they could keep fighting. Or better imagined being so sick you can’t get out of your bed hearing the final assault coming and knowing it’s over any minute for you as the numbers are just finally too many. Or maybe it’s me just being older.
Whatever it was, I felt it more this time and it was a much better experience. I guess the point is if you are in a place like that make sure to slow down and take everything in, in an orderly fashion. Even if it doesn’t seem like the most fun or fast enough thing on your trip, it will be worth it once you are remembering it back later in life. And isn’t that why we do those things in the first place?