Head coach Anthony Becht was done savoring the Battlehawks’ dramatic come-from-behind win by Tuesday morning.
Blame the XFL schedule makers.
St. Louis (1-0) travels to Seattle (0-1) for the Sea Dragons’ home opener on Thursday night, and the Battlehawks had plenty to accomplish before kick-off.
- Diagnose and fix problems that plagued the offense against San Antonio.
- Prepare the defense for Seattle’s pass-happy attack.
- Refresh the players mentally and physically on a short week.
“Quick turnaround, Week 1, a lot of guys haven’t played a lot of football – I was worried about getting through four quarters,” Becht said.
“This is a key week as far as maintenancing all our players and also mentally getting them prepared without doing a lot of work on the field.”
Running back Brian Hill is nursing a hamstring injury but recorded a full practice on Tuesday. Edge rusher Travis Feeney suffered a concussion on a dazzling strip-sack and fumble return in the second quarter on Sunday; he was limited in Tuesday’s practice.
Becht kept reps to a minimum this week, but staying on the field will be key for the Battlehawks’ offense.
St. Louis mustered 62 total yards and three first downs through three quarters on Sunday. The ‘Hawks didn’t convert on third down (0 for 6) until the final period and ran just 46 plays to San Antonio’s 77.
“We got to get more snaps – we got to convert third downs. We can’t have penalties that put us in third-and-long, I mean we had several third-down conversations that were called back,” Becht said.
After reviewing the film, he said the opportunities were there.
“We left a lot on the field, guys – I know it didn’t look pretty with the score early in the game. But there were things there that if we make the proper corrections and apply it to the game, we’re going to be much better.”
The Battlehawks’ defense sparkled against the Brahmas, holding San Antonio’s rushing attack to 3.4 yards per carry on 39 attempts. This week they’ll be tested through the air.
“June Jones’ offense is spread out, wide open,” Becht said. “Four-wide, five-wide, empty backfields. I think it pains them to have to run the ball throughout the game.”
Seattle quarterback Ben DiNucci was 35-for-54 for 282 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions against the D.C. Defenders last week. Jahcour Pearson caught 12 passes for 95 yards, while former NFL All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon chipped in 74 yards and a TD.
“DiNucci is a guy that can spray the ball around the field, he’s got movement skills, he can extend the play, he can run,” Becht said.
“Puts a lot of challenges on our linebackers and DB’s to tackle and be great tacklers in space…we have to find ways to get them off the field.”
Seattle plays host this week, but it’s the Sea Dragons that will jet-lagged.
All the XFL teams practice in the leagues’ Arlington, Texas hub and Seattle played in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, then traveled back to Texas before departing for “home”.
The forecast calls for temperatures below freezing on Thursday and Becht is hopeful that a cold-weather practice in training camp will pay dividends now.
“We got one in the rain and the cold, and it was about 25 degrees out. We got a little taste of the extremes there, which was good. Our guys are going to be locked-in.”
Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505