The USFL will begin its second season this week.
The revamped spring soccer league will run the 2023 season from April 15 to July 1, when the championship game returns to Canton, Ohio. The top two teams in each division will play each other in the playoffs from June 24-25.
There will be a few different changes to the calendar format. The USFL moved away from the bubble format when each team played in Birmingham, Alabama, last year. This year, there are four places to play in what is called the core format. Birmingham, Canton, Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee will be the centers. The Tampa Bay Bandits moved to Memphis to become the Showboats.
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Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Ford Field in Detroit, and Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton will be the host cities.
Here are more things to know about the 2023 USFL season.
Who are the defending champions?
The Birmingham Stallions won the USFL championship last summer, beating Case Cookus and the Philadelphia Stars, 33-30. Cookus broke his leg during the game and his absence may have helped give the Stallions an advantage in the game. Victor Bolden Jr. was named the championship MVP.
There were a few head coaching changes during the USFL offseason.
Mike Nolan replaced Jeff Fisher for the Michigan Panthers. Curtis Johnson replaced Kevin Sumlin with the Houston Gamblers. Ray Horton replaced Kirby Wilson with the Pittsburgh Maulers. John DeFilippo replaced Larry Fedora with the New Orleans Breakers.
The other four teams kept their head coaches. Mike Riley coaches the New Jersey Generals. Bart Andrus coaches the Philadelphia Stars. Skip Holtz coaches the Birmingham Stallions. Todd Haley coaches the Memphis Showboats.
Players you may know
birmingham stallions: RB Bo Scarbrough, QB J’Mar Smith, TE Jace Sternberger, TE Thaddeus Moss, DE Jonathan Newsome, S Nate Holley, LB Scooby Wright III.
houston players: RB Mark Thompson, G Avery Gennesy, T Brandon Hitner, OL Kristjan Sokoli.
Memphis Showboats: QB Brady White, RB Alex Collins, WR John Franklin III, WR Osirus Mitchell, WR Rashard Davis, WR Vinny Papale, CB Quenton Meeks, DT John Atkins.
michigan panthers: QB Carson Strong, QB Josh Love, TE Marcus Baugh, RB Reggie Corbin, RB Stevie Scott III, DL Ethan Westbrooks.
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New Jersey Generals: TE Braedon Bowman, RB Darius Victor, QB De’Andre Johnson, QB Kyle Lauletta, RB Trey Williams, LB Chris Orr, S Shalom Luani.
New Orleans Breakers: WR Johnnie Dixon, WR Jonathan Adams, QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, LB Jerod Fernandez.
pittsburgh maulers: WR Bailey Gaither, QB James Morgan, DT Christopher Okoye, LB Reuben Foster.
philadelphia stars: TE Bug Howard, QB Case Cookus, WR Chris Rowland, QB KJ Costello, RB Matt Colburn II, DE Adam Rodriguez, CB Channing Stribling.
The USFL added new quirks to the football rulebook last season with experimental changes to extra points, instant replay, kickoffs, onside kicks and overtime scrimmage plays, punts, timeout, pass interference and two forward passes. The USFL had fans in mind when thinking about the new rules and days before kick-off revealed a few more changes.
Kickoffs will begin from the 20-yard line. Out-of-bounds kickoffs will be placed 30 yards from the place of kick.
On punts, gunners are prohibited from lining up outside the numbers when the ball snaps and cannot be double-teamed until the ball is kicked.
The USFL targeted fumbles in the end zone. A forward fumble from the field of play into the end zone and out of bounds is no longer a touchback but returns to the location of the fumble with the team that fumbled retaining possession.
NFL fans were outraged by the emergency quarterback rule in the NFC Championship Game, and the USFL addressed the need. Teams may carry a third inactive quarterback. If the player is activated and enters the game at any time in the first three quarters, the other two quarterbacks may not re-enter the game. If the emergency quarterback comes on in the fourth quarter, either quarterback can play.
The replay center will have the latitude to overturn improper passer calls, all personal fouls, and all unsportsmanlike conduct calls. The USFL Command Center is based in Los Angeles.
The league will also look to keep game lengths under three hours. The clock will run on incompletions throughout the first and third quarters and outside five minutes in the second and fourth quarters.
«When a running back steps out of bounds, the clock will begin to run, except within two minutes of the second and fourth quarters,» the league says.
«The clock will stop after a penalty within two minutes of the second and fourth quarters. The clock will stop after a first down within two minutes in the second and fourth quarters. The duration of halftime is 10 minutes The play clock is 35 seconds.
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When is week 1?
Week 1 of the 2023 season begins on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16.
On Saturday, the stars will take on the Showboats in Memphis at 4:30 pm ET on FOX. The Generals play the Stallions in Birmingham at 7:30 pm ET on FOX. On Sunday, the Panthers play the Gamblers in Memphis at noon ET on NBC and Peacock. The Maulers will play the Breakers in Birmingham at 6:30 pm ET.