If you’ve missed seeing the Old Ball Coach roaming the sidelines in his visor, you’ll be happy to know he’s back. Former University of Florida and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier returns to football as the Orlando Apollos host the Atlanta Legends in the opening week of the Alliance of American Football. They’ll face off inside Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Fla. with an 8 pm. EST kick off on Saturday night.
Atlanta Legends at Orlando Apollos (-5.5, O/U: 44.5)
For whatever reason, even here a day before the games, teams are being stingy with their starting line ups. Not so for the Legends, who took the time to put together a nice release detailing the guys that will first take the field wearing Atlanta’s colors.
At quarterback, the Legends will start former University of Tennessee signal caller Matt Simms, son of former NFL quarterback Phil Simms and brother of Chris Simms. Simms beat out former Georgie quarterback Aaron Murray for the job, which is kind of surprising. Murray was a guy scouts looked at as a potential NFL arm just a few short years ago.
Notre Dame’s Tarean Folston gets the start at running back. Malachi Jones and Seantavius Jones will line up at wideout. The offensive line will be Avery Gennesy, John Kling, Tyshon Henderson, Chase Farris and Freddie Burden.
Another set of guys with the same last name will line up next to each other on the defensive line in Tavaris Barnes and T.J. Barnes. J.T. Jones will rush from the outside along with Tracy Sprinkle. Linebackers are Jeff Luc, Khalil Bass and Brandon Watts. The secondary will be Doran Grant and Desmond Lawrence on the outside with Tyson Graham and Ed Reynolds as safeties. Reynolds spent time on multiple NFL rosters.
Most of what we can know early about these teams are from their coaching staffs. Kevin Coyle leads the Atlanta squad on the field and has never been a head coach at any level before. He was last a defensive analyst for LSU this past season and spent two years as the defensive backs coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Legends defense will be run by Louie Cioffi, but the reason you’ll be tuning in is their offensive coordinator — it’s none other than Michael Vick.
But nobody will steal the show like Spurrier, who hasn’t coached at any level since 2015. Spurrier is 229-89-2 as a college coach. This will be his third stint in a professional league. He was 35-21 as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL. He had a disastrous tenure with the Washington Redskins, going 12-20. He’s won one NCAA national title with Florida and was 11-10 in bowl games.
Guessing at a depth chart, it looks like former NFL practice squad mainstay Garrett Gilbert, who was originally drafted by Jeff Fisher with the St. Louis Rams, will be the quarterback. Spurrier has plenty of Florida talent on his roster, with guys that played at UF, Florida State, UCF and USF populating both sides of the ball. Spurrier will call his own plays. Former NFL safety Bob Sanders will call the defense.
There’s plenty of excitement for what Spurrier will bring to the table in his return to coaching and I’m not immune to that. With plenty of Florida-based speed, he should be able to run his offense the way he pleases. He’s certainly done it with worse quarterbacks than Gilbert tossing the ball. Apollos 34, Legends 20
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