CFA Opens Investigation Into Plainsmen

cfa_heartland_footballLincoln, NE – The top brass were surprised today to receive a notice from the league offices that an investigation was being opened into the head coach and training department. This news comes as a blow to embattled coach Peter Nolte after it seemed like he might be righting the ship following a win at home over the Philadelphia Bombers.

According to details obtained by OSN the investigation is about whether the team has been correctly following the league procedure in disclosing injuries on the league report. As a part of the investigation the players on the team and the team doctors will be interviewed.

This comes after some unusually low recovery times were reported on the latest injury report. The oddness of the list is further compounded by the fact that all league doctors are employed by the league, not by the team.

“There does seem to be some discrepancy here,” said the lead investigator Brian Toole. “Really this is just a formality. There could be nothing wrong here, but it is in the best interests of the players that we take this seriously.” The discrepancies that Mr. Toole is referring to is the latest injury report to come out of Nebraska which lists the following.

  • James Bailey – Probable for next week despite suffering a torn Quad in week 2.
  • Alan Roldan – Probable for next week despite suffering a dislocated shoulder.
  • Charles Pounds – Out 1-2 weeks after tearing his MCL.

The CFA Network will bring you further news as it’s uncovered.

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Mustangs Turning the Page?

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Seven year veteran quarterback Brian McKee arrived in the Rockies via a 2020 trade with the Orlando Dragons and has handled most of the snaps since his arrival. For better or worse he’s what the Mustangs have had since moving on from former first round pick Derrick Jones. McKee has show flashes of being able to lead Colorado to bigger and better things but in the end just hasn’t been able to remain consistent.

Enter an early and nagging injury in 2023 which opened the window for rookie fourth round pick John Falls from Northwestern. Falls has seen action in three games now and started two, putting up solid but not spectacular numbers so far…like so many other Mustang pivots in the past…it looks like he might have IT, but who knows.

Falls had a breakout game against the New York Knights, putting up a QBR of 127 while completing 16 of 25 for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns. In a presser this morning, Colorado head honcho P.J. Fleck announced that they are giving the reins of the offense to Falls.

“Brian has been solid for this club and we know he can perform and perform at a consistent level,” Fleck said, “but John has shown sparks both in practice and in games, we are confident that he has a full grasp on the offense. Time to give him a confidence boost and let him run…he won’t have to be looking over his shoulder.

Receiver Abe Tijerina benefited against the Knights by hauling in all three of Falls’ touchdown passes.

“He throws a sweet, sweet ball man,” Tijerina said, “it’s got this incredible spin to it that you can just focus on, haul in and hit the turf running.”

As in the past, time will tell what the Mustangs have…it’s been a long search but fans are wondering if it finally ends here.

Nebraska Plainsmen Outlook

cfa_heartland_footballGoing into the off season Nebraska had more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. Coming into 2023 most of the holes have answers, but will it translate into a better product on the field? Here are some story lines given to Tales by the Nebraska beat writer to keep an eye on:

  • The Plainsmen look to “Circle the Wagons.” That particular title comes from defensive end Ben Martell who was giving an interview with a local sports news reporter. When asked about what the Plainsmen would have to do to show any kind of improvement he replied, “Just ride the wagon train.” He was apparently talking about the Nebraska Defensive Line which is arguably one of the strongest position points for the team. When pressed further he seemed to indicate that defensive coordinator David Beam had challenged the position group to lead the team, “Out of the doldrums.”
  • David Southerland has embraced his change of position. Last year the Plainsmen were torched on the back end, trailing the entire league in passing yards against. Citing a lack of speed in the defensive backfield the Plainsmen moved Southerland to a safety position in order to capitalize on the aging stars speed and hands. Southerland seems to be okay with the move telling reporters that he was willing to do anything the team needed. The season will soon let us know if this was a good move by David Beam or if the lack of experience on the outside is a recipe for disaster.
  • Will the second coming of Marcotte be the spark that the offense needs to win a few games? Being the only QB on the all time rushing TD list made George feel a little like a special commodity and set out to capitalize on his new found celebrity, cashing in on a big contract to South Florida and its lack of income tax. Unfortunately, it was not a match made in heaven and Marcotte has returned to try and make the lightning of 2021 strike in the Heartland again. When he’s at his best Marcotte is an interesting, arguably the only, wrinkle in the Plainsmen offense. At his worst he’s the worn out car in your driveway that tries to kill you in a new and interesting way each day. Which Marcotte have the Plainsmen signed to man the helm in 2023?

Kickoff in the Heartland

cfa_heartland_footballThe 2023 season is upon us and the Heartland is getting things rolling with two divisional matches right out of the gate. Common belief is that the St. Louis Stallions should once again take the division with little to no real competition, but don’t count out the other three teams yet. They are all hungry and ready to step up their game.

Iowa Redemption at St. Louis Stallions

The Stallions come into this game with history on their side boasting a 13-4 all time record against the newly rebranded Redemption, formerly the Renegades. Iowa brings back a similar team to the one that finished 2022 at 8-8. Due to many trades they only added 3 rookies through the draft, all of them backups at best.

On the flipside the Stallions return arguably the best roster in the division and added some studs in the draft, especially at linebacker. Carter Johnson (1st round) and Samuel Stidham (5th round) bolster an already impressive group at the position.

  • Prediction: Stallions in a cakewalk

Colorado Mustangs at Nebraska Plainsmen

The Mustangs finished last season 5-11 while the Plainsmen were just a wee bit worse at 4-2…both the bottom of the divisional barrel. What happens in this game is a wild card but could set the tone for the upcoming season.

Nebraska added a solid 7 rookies to their talent pool led by cornerback Charles Pounds and quarterback Charles Weir. Pounds is an instant starter in a thin defensive backfield while Weir will be able to sit and learn behind longtime veteran George Marcotte who was signed during free agency.

Colorado added 6 rookies of their own with the spotlight on defensive tackle Kevin Marlowe from USC; while not a full time starter, he should see ample play in heavy rotation behind Claud Bradley and Steven Sanders. Mustangs faithful are also high on rookie signal caller John Falls after a solid preseason…could the quarterback of the future finally be on the roster?

  • Prediction: Mustangs in a squeeker

Tales from the Heartland, 2023 Draft Round 3 Reaction

cfa_heartland_footballE3-3, Colorado Mustangs – RB Earl Neal, Cincinnati

After the retirement of Adam Chong, this was a pick of need and not luxury. The Mustangs fully expect RFA Anthony Bostick to return, but still need another body in the backfield. Neal should be a contributor on special teams for his first few seasons and with his work ethic could develop into a contributor, but out of the gate he shouldn’t make a big impact.

  • Instant Reaction: C+

E3-4, Nebraska Plainsmen – QB Charles Weir, North Carolina State

Nebraska went into the draft with only one quarterback on their roster, 4th year man Carl Dixon, not much more than a camp and practice arm really. What they’ve found at the top of the 3rd round is a probable starter unless they make a free agent signing. Weir has a cannon of an arm, reads the field pretty well but does struggle with some accuracy issues. However all the tools are there for him to be successful in the CFA.

  • Instant Reaction: A

E3-29, St. Louis Stallions – G Mark Garcia, Pittsburgh

The Stallions offensive line is starting to show it’s age, and while Garcia won’t be called upon to play immediately he can play this season in a pinch. While he does have good footwork, he needs to refine his technique and spend ample time bulking up in the weight room. A development project for sure.

  • Instant Reaction: B

Tales from the Heartland, Instant Draft Reaction

cfa_heartland_footballWe close out the round once again for the Heartland with the defending division champs.

E2-29, St. Louis Stallions – SS Lonnie Patterson, Rutgers

Despite the pitiful state of Rutgers football of late, they still manage to put some solid players into the CFA and Patterson should be no different. Right now he isn’t all-star material in any one area but he is well rounded and had a very product college career. Like most other players taken so far by Heartland teams he has a thirst to succeed, work ethic seems to be important to every coaching staff these days. Luckily for Patterson the pressure is off on day one as he’ll likely backup longtime veteran Michael Brown at the strong safety slot. Not a glamorous or immediately impactful pick, but one that could pay dividends down the road.

  • Instant Reaction: B

Tales from the Heartland, 2019 Draft Flashback

cfa_heartland_footballGrading a draft pick at the moment he’s taken is always just a bunch of conjecture and predicting, the real litmus test comes after the player has had a few seasons under his belt. Let’s travel back to the 2019 draft to see how the first round picks in the Heartland have worked out.

All first round Heartland picks have panned out so far into their careers.

E1-6, Iowa Renegades – C Dwain Roe, Baylor

Iowa didn’t hang on to Roe long, trading him to Portland in the preseason of 2020. During his lone season in Iowa he started 14 games, producing 28 pancakes and only allowing 4 sacks. He’s moved on to be a consistent starter for the Reavers since being trade producing similar stats. For his career he’s started 51 games, piling up 136 pancakes while only allowing 30 sacks. Given what Iowa received in return this worked out fairly well for them even tough they jettisoned Roe quickly.

  • Grade: B+ (grade for Iowa only, Roe warrants an A for his career)

E1-13, Colorado Mustangs – SS Charles Dial, South Florida

Dial has started all but one game for the Mustangs in his career and has been a stalwart in the defensive backfield. He’s performed consistently for Colorado and has proven to be very adept at blitzing from his safety spot. So far in his young career he’s produced 294 tackles, 21 sacks, 10 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries and a defensive TD.

  • Grade: A

E1-25, St. Louis Stallions – C Curtis Shaver, Duke

The Stallions don’t seem to miss often on draft picks and they certainly didn’t with Shaver. He’s battled some niggling injuries and sat on the bench for most of 2021 but has been consistent. He’s accrued 127 pancakes and allowed only 26 sacks while being a mainstay.

  • Grade: A

E1-31, Colorado Mustangs – C Floyd Hostetler, Boise State

Another solid pick in 2019 by Colorado, Hostetler got off to a slow start, only starting a single game in his rookie campaign, but since then he’s been a mainstay after being moved to tackle. He’s pounded the opposition into the dirt with 181 pancakes while allowing 44 sacks.

  • Grade: B

E1-32, Iowa Renegades – WR Alex Taylor, Boise State

Since be taken at the bottom of the first round, Taylor has started all but one game for Iowa producing over 1000 yards in all but one season. In total he’s hauled in 260 passes for 5225 yards for an impressive 20.1 average and adding 25 touchdowns in that span. Except for 2020 he’s also been a key cog in the kickoff return game.

  • Grade: A+

Tales from the Heartland, 2nd round draft analysis

cfa_heartland_footballThe 2023 CFA draft cranks right along with the Heartland division having picks 4, 6, and 29 in the second round.

E2-4, Nebraska Plainsmen

T Joseph Curry, Missouri

Honestly, this is a little bit of a puzzling pick to me by the Plainsmen. Yes, Curry does have unquestionable work ethic…his college coaches say he eats, breathes, sleeps and defecates football but I don’t know if that kind of work ethic is enough to overcome his physical shortcomings. About the only upside he has coming into the CFA is his pass blocking skills having played in the spread offense at Missouri. He’s rather weak, has questionable foot speed and hasn’t done much run blocking in his college career. He could develop given a few seasons, but this is an iffy pick so high in the second round.

  • Instant Reaction: C-

E2-6, Colorado Mustangs

LB Raul Huber, Colorado State

Watching tape of the combine it’s obvious that Huber has all the physical skills…good strength, agility, speed and tackling. However when you dig a little deeper and pull up game film he’s often been caught out of position leaving wide gaps for the offense to exploit. He does bring some much needed speed to the linebacking corp and although the Mustangs definitely needed to target a linebacker fairly early, the coaching staff will need to get him up to speed with some intense film study.

  • Instant Reaction: B

Tales from the Heartland, Instant Draft Analysis

cfa_heartland_footballThe last of the Heartland Conference teams has made their final pick in the first round.

E1-29, St. Louis Stallions

LB Carter Johnson, Penn State

While the Stallions have three stalwarts at lineback in Washington, Burrell and Dunn, they are all getting up there in age and the pick of Johnson brings another infusion of youth and talent into the position. Johnson has all of the intangibles from day one to make solid contributions on special teams and possesses the speed and agility to play in the dime and nickel packages.

  • Instant Reaction: A

The Heartland now looks onward to the second round.

Tales from the Heartland, 2023 1st Round Draft Analysis

cfa_heartland_footballSome quick reactions for the two Heartland picks taken so far.

E1-4, Nebraska Plainsmen

FS Charles Pounds, Ohio State

Who doesn’t love a free safety with a name like Pounds, this young man is just made to wreck havoc on opposing offenses. His rare combination of speed and agility instantly have him headed to becoming elite in the CFA as a cover safety however he’s a little lacking in upper body strength and his tackling skills have been suspect at times. If he continues with the proven work ethic he displayed in college the sky could be the limit.

It’ll be interesting to see where Nebraska plays Pounds as 2022 1st round pick Terrance Cardoza manned that position very capably last season. While he’s worth a 1st rounder, the pick could be seen as some as a bit questionable given the vast needs in other areas of the Plainsmen’s roster.

  • Instant Reaction: B+

E1-6, Colorado Mustangs

DT Kevin Marlowe, South California

The Mustangs have the perceived luxury of not really needing an instant starter anywhere so were able to pick by value and impact and they certainly got that with Marlowe. He is a much needed addition with longtime standout Claud Bradley getting up there in years and Marlowe should be a starter from day one.

If you watch game film Marlowe does have a weakness with his footwork and at times is a little slow to react, but for someone that weighs in at 3 bills he has surprising speed. He has a high motor and is known around campus for being a gym rat, bulking up during his time at USC.

  • Instant Reaction: A-

Stay tuned for instant analysis at pick E1-29 for the St. Louis Stallions, the Iowa Renegades do not possess a 1st round pick in this draft.