Generals find rhythm and win with De’Andre Johnson at QB

Generals find rhythm and win with De’Andre Johnson at QB

For rj young
FOX Sports Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — On the podium of the press conference room in the Protector Stadium, New Jersey Generals coach Mike Riley marveled at the stat sheet next to the quarterback De’Andre Johnson and receiver KaVontae Turpin.

“Look at that,” he told them. “Running, passing, that’s a good balance.”

Yes, Thanos would be proud of Riley and her team.

From the beginning, Riley and the staff saw the style of coverage that New Orleans Breakers defensive coordinator John Tetula liked to run, mostly man coverage, and saw they had a thing for it.

He chose to start Johnson at quarterback and, for the first time this season, did not lure him in favor of the more pass-oriented Luis Perez in what had been a two-quarterback offense.

Johnson led the Generals to a 27-17 win, the first win by a Division North team over a Division South opponent this season. He finished with 255 total yards, completing 14 of 21 pass attempts for 213 yards.

When the game was over and Perez hadn’t played a snap, Riley admitted he didn’t think that would be the case when the game started.

“I didn’t plan to do it like it happened today,” he said. “But I did think early on that it was important not to fall behind in the pocket against their pass-rushers. So we were going to have to provide some movement on the edges before we settled back in so we could throw some balls in the pockets.” , and that was it.”

The Generals had 401 total yards in what Riley believed was his team’s best performance all season.

“I think so,” Riley said. “I think when you look at it, and then you measure the opponent, which is hard to do in this league because all of our games have been close, New Orleans has been impressive. And our guys prepared well, studied well and respected him. and to them.”

Johnson scored the first touchdown of the game on an engineered run. His score was set by two receptions for 39 yards by former North Dakota State wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, including one he caught from behind.

Generals defense impresses with two points

Generals defense impresses with two points

The New Jersey Generals defense had two interceptions and forced a turnover against the Breakers. Shalom Luani was responsible for both interceptions.

Three of the top six running backs in the USFL are Generals, and they averaged nearly 178 rushing yards in their first four games of the season. They displayed that strength in the second quarter with slashing runs of 17 and 28 yards en route to a double-digit lead when Johnson scored his second touchdown on a fourth-down play from the Breakers’ two-yard line.

The Generals ran the ball eight times in that nine-play drive. When the game ended nearly four hours after kickoff, the Generals rushed for 181 yards on 38 carries.

TURPIN COMES UP

Turpin, a former all-purpose dynamo at Texas Christian, became Johnson’s favorite target, and offensive coordinator Steve Smith’s favorite weapon, against an aggressive Breakers front. He finished the game with five catches for 106 yards, two runs for 10 more, plus a 39-yard punt return.

Turpin enjoys being involved in all three phases.

“Since I started playing football,” he said, “I’ve tried to do everything I can to help the team.”

NO RHYTHM FOR SLOTER

With Breakers offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone missing the game to attend his daughter’s wedding, head coach Larry Fedora called snaps for the first time since 2020. However, he certainly would have liked a better result for his team and his quarterback.

“I’m not going to make excuses for anything,” Fedora said. “It just is what it is. We have to respond better to those situations.”

Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter was limited to just 155 yards on 15-of-36 passing, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He had passed over 400 in the Breakers’ victory last Sunday, and over 1,000 in his previous four games. Six of his last seven passes against the Generals were incomplete.

Jordan Ellis, the Breakers’ best running back, was limited to just 42 yards on 12 carries.

Kyle Sloter’s journey from the NFL to the USFL

Kyle Sloter's journey from the NFL to the USFL

Kyle Sloter has tried out for 26 different NFL teams and talks about what it’s really like inside NFL camps. He brings that knowledge with him to the USFL and the New Orleans Breakers.

The Breakers’ offense is best when it moves at breakneck speed, but injury stoppages, a weather delay and a total of 15 penalties committed by both teams led to an offensive performance that was more like a road car. the one with missing gears than the race car you have. been in the last few weeks.

Sloter continued to struggle when a pass he threw was deflected and intercepted by New Jersey safety Shalom Luani in the red zone. It was the Generals’ first snap since Week 1. For Sloter, the interception was his fifth turnover in the Breakers’ last six quarters.

The Breakers mounted their first scoring drive in the closing minutes of the first half. Sloter found wide receiver Jay Adams on third-and-15 from the New Jersey 20-yard line for a touchdown with 1:08 left, a TD Sloter desperately needed. Before that, Sloter had completed just 7 of 14 pass attempts for 47 yards with an interception.

Inside their own 10-yard line, the Breakers’ defense stiffened during the final minute of the second quarter, but New Orleans was lucky to be down 17-10 at halftime.

Kyle Sloter finds Jonathan Adams for a 20-yard touchdown

Kyle Sloter finds Jonathan Adams for a 20-yard touchdown

New Orleans Breakers quarterback Kyle Sloter finds WR Jonathan Adams for a TD to bring the team closer to the New Jersey Generals as halftime approaches in the USFL.

Johnson connected on 8 of 11 passes for 115 yards and two rushing touchdowns in the first half.

Following a pass interference penalty on Generals cornerback DeJuan Neal on the Breakers’ opening possession in the second half, Sloter came to life and found former Ohio State wide receiver Johnnie Dixon from 10 yards out to time the score 17-17 with 10:13 to play. the term.

When it started to rain, the Generals responded with a TD drive, punctuated by Darius “Vito” Victor and his 30-inch thighs (yes, really) rolling into the end zone for his league-leading fifth rushing touchdown. season.

Victor led the Generals in rushing with 85 yards on 16 carries.

THE LIGHTNING AND LUANI

Not long after, play was stopped due to lightning in the area for a total of 45 minutes.

On the second play, defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao rocked Sloter with a legal punch to the chest, leaving Sloter on the ground long enough to bring the athletic trainers onto the field. He left the field under his own power.

Although the Generals lost three defensive starters to injuries in the following series, the Breakers were unable to establish the kind of rhythm that had allowed them to become the number one offense in the league. Sloter then released his second pick of the afternoon, again Luani.

Luani had missed the previous two games due to injury and announced his return with two aces. He added two passes defensed and six tackles to what was an exciting return to the backfield for defensive coordinator Cris Dishman.

The Generals had a chance to put up two touchdowns again, but the Breakers’ defense picked up a fumble at their own 7-yard line, intercepting Johnson with 7:41 left. But the Generals managed to extend their lead to 10 points on a field goal by former Alabama kicker Austin Jones to hold a 27-17 lead with 4:15 remaining.

The Breakers gave up the ball on downs with their next possession, leaving the Generals the privilege of running out of time with just 3:01 left.

FAKE FLASH POINT

In the first quarter, a fake Breakers punt went 43 yards when linebacker Jerod Fernandez caught the snap from his personal guard position and ran straight down the middle of New Jersey’s punt return team, who broke away as if Moses would have opened his hands in midfield. .

Jerod Fernandez of New Orleans converts a fake punt

Jerod Fernandez of New Orleans converts a fake punt

The New Orleans Breakers pull off a fake punt conversion on a 43-yard run by Jerod Fernandez.

New Orleans kicker Taylor Bertolet smashed the ball 42 yards through the posts to give the Breakers a 3-0 lead. That was the last time New Orleans would hold the lead.

Fernandez, a linebacker, finished the game as the Breakers’ leading rusher.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast “The program classified no. #1 with R.J. Young.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Youngand subscribe to “The Young RJ Show” on YouTube. It’s not in a StepMill.


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USFL - Breakers vs.  General - 5/14/2022 USFL – Breakers vs. General – 5/14/2022

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