USFL Week 2 Preview: Stars face Maulers in Keystone State Showdown

Posted on April 22, 2022

The Philadelphia Stars will play their first USFL North Division contest on Saturday as they face the Pittsburgh Maulers. Both teams will be looking for their first wins. 

The Stars overcame a slow start to take a lead in the third quarter before dropping a 23-17 decision to the New Orleans Breakers on Sunday afternoon. They managed to have success on offense with the run game and some short passing. However, poor blocking led to a week-high of six sacks surrendered. 

Pittsburgh found almost no success on offense Monday night in their 17-3 defeat to the Tampa Bay Bandits. Josh Love and Kyle Lauletta both struggled under center, while the team allowed 12 tackles for loss. The defense did pitch a shutout in the second half but Tampa Bay’s 17 points before halftime proved more than ample.

Betting Preview

The Stars come in the largest favorite of the weekend, with the spread around a touchdown for the noon kickoff on Saturday on FOX. However, the total is the lowest on the Week 2 slate. Here are the prices at the major sportsbooks:


Bryan Scott led the league in passing in the Week 1 loss, accumulating 202 yards on 25 of 36 passing with a score and a pick. Ok, those aren’t eye-popping numbers but they showed he can get the ball out. If the team relies more on short passing and quick throws, not only can he avoid the sacks, they might be able to more effectively run the ball. Darnell Holland’s 42-yard TD run was a nice change-up against the blitz, as a free rusher created the lane by almost running past the handoff. 

Special teams proved a concern in the opener as well. The punting team gave up a safety when the Breakers got home and blocked a kick. Matt Mengel missed two 40-plus yard FGs, one in each half. Mengel will get more opportunities but reliable kickers are vital to teams’ success, especially in expansion or new league scenarios.

Pittsburgh has two quarterbacks and neither looked like a starter in Week 1. Love at least completed half his passes in his time, while Lauletta, the Downingtown High product who spent an offseason on the Eagles roster, went just 2 of 10 for eight yards. While the Maulers focused more on establishing the run game, they averaged less than three yards a carry. The offense certainly needs a leader, an identity, and a better start. Three points from three red-zone trips won’t cut it at any level. 

Key Matchups

Both offensive lines are looking for bounce-back games. Each team gave up 15 negative-yard plays from scrimmages (sacks and TFLs) in their losses. 

The Stars are still looking for their first takeaway of the season. It might come on a strip-sack if their rush can get home and rattle whoever Pittsburgh goes with behind center.

When Philly has the ball, it’ll be interesting to see if the Maulers shade linebacker Kyahva Tezino to whatever side Bug Howard plays. The Stars TE had the team’s first touchdown with an easy release on a short corner route in the first half. Tezino had a pick and game-high 12 tackles against the Bandits. 

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