The play of the day in yesterday’s otherwise sloppy game between the New Jersey Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers was without a doubt the Generals goal line stand of the Maulers early in the second quarter. The stop changed the complexion of a close game and halted the momentum of the Maulers.
The Maulers decided to go with two quarterback sneaks on 3rd and 4th & goal from the one with James Morgan that were stuffed.
GOAL. LINE. STAND. 😤
🎥: @nbc | @peacock pic.twitter.com/EFYiJFFYo6
— New Jersey Generals (@USFLGenerals) April 23, 2023
Note the bunched T-formation the Maulers used. As an El Paso resident, this formation looks quite familiar as it’s been UTEP’s signature short-yardage formation. Here’s the Miner’s running a fullback dive with fan favorite fullback James Tupou out of it.
The Maulers are one of the few USFL teams with a pure fullback in Mason Stokke. The Maulers were creative in their uses of Stokke, using him in the slot and throwing bubble screens to him, but it’s time they used him as a short-yardage weapon.
Stokke had extensive experience running the ball with the Wisconsin Badgers, totaling 38 carries for 109 yards and three touchdowns. Stokke converted 13 of 18 situations when the Badgers needed 3 yards or less for a first down or touchdown, including a near-perfect 8 for 9 conversion rate in 2019. One of the conversions was a two-yard touchdown on college football’s biggest stage, the Rose Bowl Game.
As shown above, the Maulers can easily run a fullback dive out of the formation and Stokke’s 6’2” 245-pound frame is much harder to bring down compared to James Morgan’s 6’4” 229-pound body.
This article is by no means an indictment of the Maulers’ short-yardage play-calling as I am a fan of the QB sneak. However, this article does ask the Maulers to consider using one of the more unique skill players in the league in short-yardage and play some vintage, smashmouth football.
Do you think the Pittsburgh Maulers can turn things around this season? Let us know down in the comments below or join the conversation on Discord.