Preview: USFL Maulers debut against Bandits tonight


The Pittsburgh Maulers are returning. The USFL revived on Saturday and continues into Easter Sunday, with the Maulers taking on the Tampa Bay Bandits tonight at 8 p.m./EST on Fox Sports 1.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL in their offseason, we report on the Maulers’ start to the season. Unfortunately, none of the league games are played in the local markets, so you can’t head downtown and catch the action. In season one, all games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama, with the goal of expanding to hometown stadiums in future seasons.

Here’s a preview of what to look out for.

The Maulers are coached by Kirby Wilson, a longtime RBs coach who spent 2007-2013 with the Steelers, among others. On the field, they are led by QB Kyle Lauletta, a former New York Giants fifth-round pick who appeared in two career games. QB Josh Love is also expected to see action tonight.

Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be an official starting lineup or depth chart. One player we know won’t be playing is RB De’Veon Smith, who It was reportedly cut for a request for pizza instead of chicken salad in the team hotel. Bizarre I know. OT Isaiah Battle, a former Rams supplemental draft pick, was placed on the Reserve/Dod Not Report list.

Notable attacking players in the Maulers’ roster include OL Vadal Alexander, OL Jon Dietzen and WR Jeff Thomas. A seventh-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2016, Alexander made nine starts in two seasons. Dietzen was a classic Wisconsin tough lineman who played up and down the line. He retired in 2018 before returning in 2020 to begin his college and now professional career. Thomas never made the NFL but was a dynamic receiver and returner in Miami (FL) from 2017-2019. Another Wisconsin product, Garrett Groshek, is expected to be the team’s lead runner.

Defensively watch out for LB Blair Brown, DT Boogie Roberts, DE/EDGE Carlo Kemp and S Arnold Tarpley III. Brown was a former fifth-round pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars, in which he appeared in 28 games in the NFL, after a strong career at Ohio University. Kemp had a steady collegiate career in Michigan but struggled to break into the NFL, spending time with the Packers and Broncos. Roberts played his college ball at San Jose State and spent time with the XFL before the league collapsed early in the pandemic. And Tarpley spent four years at Vanderbilt and is a local, a graduate of Central Catholic. He will be the team’s defensive captain.

Australian and former Kentucky Wildcat Max Duffy will serve as the team’s starting punter.

Pittsburgh meets Tampa Bay, coached by former Steelers OC Todd Haley. They are quartered by Jordan Ta’amu. Notable players in their roster include RB BJ Emmons, former Steeler OT Jarron Jones and WR Eli Rogers, and ex-Steeler OLB Travis Feeney. Burly NT Daylon Mack is another interesting name.

The USFL implements various technologies in its games. There is a chip in football to mark first downs as opposed to a chain gang. The league is too Using drones for snaps and replays by special teams along with an in-helmet camera that has received mixed reviews.

We will have a recap of today’s game for Monday morning.


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