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New York Guardians

XFL Week One Preview: Tampa Bay Vipers at New York Guardians

The Vipers defensive line across the Gaurdians offensive line during a scrimmage at XFL training camp. (via Twitter @XFLVipers)

It was over two-years ago in January of 2018 when Vince McMahon announced he was going to revive the XFL via a periscope from the Alpha Entertainment Twitter account. During that announcement, the year 2020 was circled as the agreed upon time the XFL will kick off again for the first time since its one-and-only season back in 2001.

#XFL2020 will open with all eight teams in action over a four-game slate split between Saturday and Sunday. The league will have a ten-week season that runs through April 12, before a two-week playoff that concludes on Sunday, April 26 at 3 PM on ESPN.

Both the New York Guardians and the Tampa Bay Vipers have that day circled on their calendars as the day their first season in the XFL ends. Expectations are high, and for good reason.

Tampa Bay starts the year with a two-game road trip with some tasking miles between MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington. The team’s home opener at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida will be in week three against the Houston Roughnecks. Two cross-country flights to start a season.

New York is perhaps the polar opposite. The Guardians enjoy home cooking to begin the year before making the 227-mile trip to Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and taking on the DC Defenders.

While schedules and travel are good for conversations sake, neither team is looking past week one. Both teams seemingly have their starting quarterbacks picked out, despite either team make any official decision. Past that, which seems to be the case for all-eight teams in the league, nothing is finalized, starting jobs are up for grabs in week one.

Tale of the Tape: Offense

Guardians QB, Matt McGloin (via Twitter @XFLGuardians)

Matt McGloin will be under center when the Guardians’ offense takes the field. He had a good showing throughout camp, and leads the team with his experience and above-average arm.

The 30-year-old Scranton, PA native was allocated to Guardians before the 2020 XFL draft and has seemingly been regarded as the team’s starter ever since. McGloin, a three-year starter a Penn State was undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft before signing with the Oakland Raiders. With the Raiders, he played parts of four seasons making seven starts.

Aaron Murray will get the nod from Vipers head coach Marc Trestman to start in week. Like McGloin, Murray was allocated to Tampa Bay and has spent the most time learning and working in the team’s offensive game plan.

The Tampa, Florida native was a four-year starter at Georgia. He left behind an incredible legacy as a Bulldog and still holds the Southeastern Conference (SEC) records for passing yards (13,166) and passing touchdowns (121) in a career.

Murray possesses an above average arsenal of weapons despite the recent injury to wide receiver Antonio Callaway, who landed on the injured reserve with what has been described as a lower-leg injury. Lead by tight end Nick Truesdell, and receivers Seantavius Jones and Stacy Coley, the Vipers have the ability to stretch the field on offense and attack opposing defenses through the air.

In addition, the Vipers have another weapon in Quinton Flowers. The former University of Central Florida quarterback has turned himself into the ultimate swiss-army knife style player on offense. Flowers is listed on the Vipers roster as a QB/RB but has shown throughout camp the ability to catch the ball as well.

For the Guardians, the run game will likely be lead by two running backs in Tim Cook and Darius Victor. Both are downhill runners and powerful backs. Victor made waves during the training camp scrimmage against Tampa with a run that went viral across social media. The Guardians were victorious over the Vipers in a 27 to 15 final score as both teams wrapped up camp and prepared for final cuts.

During camp, the Guardians placed five offensive players on injured reserve, four wide receivers and a tight end. Among those are Deangelo Yancey and Tanner Gentry who were expected to be in the top-half of the Guardians depth chart at wide receiver. In their place, Mekale McKay will likely be the team’s No. 1 receiver with Teo Redding behind him.

Tale of the Tape: Defense

It’ll be strength on strength when the Vipers offense and Guardians defense line-up across from one another. The Guardians are lead defensively by their secondary. None more highly regarded than the team’s No. 1 pick Jamar Summers. Summers shined last spring in the Alliance of American Football, and showed he still has the ability to be a lockdown corner during training camp. His pick-six off of Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones was among the highlights of the league-wide training camp that took place in Houston, Texas. The team’s second cornerback will be Bryce Jones, they will be joined in the secondary by Dravon Askew-Henry and Demetrious Cox. All of whom spent time with NFL teams in the past year.

The Vipers defensive will also be lead by the secondary group. The team dealt Arrion Springs, their No. 1 pick of the defensive back draft before training camp, in return they received Jalen Collins. Collins will undoubtedly be the team’s top cornerback, and made some unbelievable plays throughout training camp, including one during the mock-overtime played after the team’s scrimmage against the Guardians.

Alongside Collins in the secondary are names like cornerbacks Demontre Hurst, Bryce Canady and safety Marcelis Branch. Other names in the Vipers secondary who are receiving buzz include Travarus McFadden and Rannell Hall, who transitioned from wide receiver to defensive back while with the team in minicamp.

The Vipers will be without defensive end Obum Gwacham, who was placed on injured reserve with the announcement of official 52-man rosters.

A Vipers defender makes a play during the training camp scrimmage against the Guardians. (via Twitter @XFLVipers)

How to Watch

The game will be shown live on Fox Sunday at 2 PM. It will be the third game of the weekend, but first game of two scheduled for Sunday. A non-traditional time for football fans who are used to the 1 and 4 PM kickoff times on Sundays. The XFL promised faster-paced games and less stoppages in hopes of attracting and maintaining an audience. It should be noted, the games are scheduled just three-hours a part from each other on Fox (2 PM) and ESPN (5 PM).

Stay tuned to XFL News Hub for additional information and storylines revolving week one matchups.

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