Defense was the name of the game in week eight of the 2023 XFL season as fans saw some strong performances from them.
Not as many offensive players stood out this weekend outside of the DC-Seattle shootout that concluded week eight of the XFL season. This week was all about the defenses and the number of plays that were made. This week could easily be looked at as the best defensive performance of the season for the league. The Arlington-Orlando game had a season-high eight turnovers. Offense and special teams might be easier to pick standouts as there weren’t many, but the defense was the name of the game.
XFL Week 8 2023 Players of the Week
Offensive Player of the Week: Jordan Ta’amu, QB, DC Defenders (17-26, 247 passing yards, four touchdowns, eight carries, 13 rushing yards)
Gritty, gutsy performance for DC Defenders quarterback Jordan Ta’amu as he had his best game of the season and possibly his career. Ta’amu willed his team to a massive win that put them in the playoffs and in the driver’s seat for a regular-season division title. It was not a pretty day in Seattle, but Ta’amu fought through the elements and the hard hits to earn his team the most important win of the season.
Ta’amu finished the game with 247 yards passing and 13 yards rushing with four touchdown passes in the 34-33 win over the Sea Dragons. Despite Seattle always creeping from behind, Ta’amu refused to allow Seattle to take the lead as he kept responding with touchdown passes. He and Chris Blair made for a top-notch connection as Blair recorded 148 yards receiving. When MVP considerations begin for the XFL, this will be the performance the league looks at when they consider Ta’amu as the most valuable player.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Blair, WR, DC Defenders (five catches, 148 yards, one touchdown)
Ben DiNucci, QB, Seattle Sea Dragons (28-42, 301 passing yards, three touchdowns, one interception, four carries, 23 rushing yards)
Juwan Green, WR, Seattle Sea Dragons (seven catches, 142 yards, two touchdowns)
Eli Rogers, WR, Orlando Guardians (ten catches, 135 yards, one touchdown)
Defensive Player of the Week: Will Clarke, DL, Arlington Renegades (three tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery)
Let’s face it, the Arlington Renegades’ defense had a field day with the Orlando Guardians’ offense forcing five turnovers in their 18-16 win. It was an important game for Arlington as they needed to win to stay alive in the south division playoff run. One certainty with Arlington is they can trust their defense to always come through. Will Clarke was one of those guys who stepped up and he did in a big way.
Granted, he didn’t have as many tackles as St. Louis Battlehawks linebacker Travis Feeney did, but every play Clarke made was impactful. He finished with three tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Safe to say he was all over the field and really played the role of the veteran. In the biggest game for Arlington, it was the veteran who came up big for the Renegades.
Honorable Mentions: Travis Feeney, LB, St. Louis Battlehawks (eight tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble)
Willie Taylor, LB, Arlington Renegades (three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one interception, one forced fumble)
Tavante Beckett, LB, Houston Roughnecks (14 tackles, one tackle for loss)
Jack Heflin, DL, Houston Roughnecks (eight tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss)
Qwynnterrio Cole, DB, Seattle Sea Dragons (eight tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble)
Special Teams Player of the Week: Sterling Hofrichter, P, St. Louis Battlehawks (two punts, 81 yards, 64-yard touchdown pass)
San Antonio’s special teams make their weekly appearance on the list as Parker Romo and Brad Wing arguably are the best kicker-punter combo in the XFL. They were great in their 17-15 loss to the Houston Roughnecks. The problem is they didn’t win the game. Romo did everything he could for the Brahmas, but it wasn’t enough. Battlehawks punter Sterling Hofrichter made one of the best plays of the season and one that might have saved St. Louis’ season.
In the fourth quarter down 17-8, the Battlehawks’ offense stalled again. They were forced to punt the ball when head coach Anthony Becht made the gutsiest call of the season by calling a fake punt. It was Hofrichter who made the throw of the season hitting a wide-open Gary Jennings who took 64 yards for the touchdown. Talk about an impactful play. Yes, he averaged over 40 yards a punt, but that play alone saved what was a potential disaster of a game.
Honorable Mention: Marquette King, P, Arlington Renegades (four punts, 191 yards, 47.8 average)
Parker Romo, K, San Antonio Brahmas (3-3, 49 long)
Brad Wing, P, San Antonio Brahmas (four punts, 201 yards, 50.3 average)
Taylor Russolino, K, Arlington Renegades (2-2, 31 long)
Daniel Whelan, P, DC Defenders (three punts, 138 yards, 46 average)
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