The Alliance of American Football (AAF) hosted quite an entertaining opening week as the newest league kicked off its inaugural season. With all four games on national television, everyone finally got to see what all of the hype was about. And in the end, we weren’t disappointed as all four games were entertaining, exciting, and full of big plays on both sides of the ball.
Fans are eager to see what the league has in store for Week 2. But first, here are five players (and one unit) who undoubtedly left their mark on the AAF in Week 1.
John Wolford, QB, Arizona Hotshots
The former Wake Forest star wound up getting the start instead of Trevor Knight, who was the projected No. 1 on the depth chart entering the season. But with Rick Neuheisel as your head coach all things are possible, right? Wolford rewarded his coach's confidence by completing 18 of 29 passes (62.1 percent) for 275 yards and four touchdowns, posting an impressive passer rating of 132.9 in the process. Neuheisel is truly a quarterback’s best friend and Wolford, assuming he gets the start again, looks to have similar success when the Hotshots visit the Memphis Express on Saturday night.
Terence Garvin, LB, Orlando Apollos
If you want to win a game by 34 points then you need to have some defense. And that’s exactly what Garvin provided against the Atlanta Legends last Saturday. He would be named AAF Defensive Player of the Week after posting a team-high 11 tackles (among the league leaders in that category) to go along with a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned for the first defensive touchdown in AAF history. Garvin and the defense will be leaned on again as Orlando visits San Antonio this Sunday.
Luis Perez, QB, Birmingham Iron
Heading into this game, nobody had really heard of the former Texas A&M Commerce signal-caller. But now everyone definitely knows who he is after throwing for 252 yards, which was the third most in Week 1. His longest completion went for 42 yards (second-longest pass play for the week) and he added 12 rushing yards. Perez' needs to improve his accuracy (completed 19 of 33 attempts, 57.6 percent) but he showed plenty of poise in leading the Iron to an impressive 26-0 win over the Memphis Express.
Rashad Ross (Hotshots) and Quinton Patton (Iron), WRs
These wideouts share the spotlight here as they clearly stood out among their peers in Week 1. They combined for nine catches that went for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Each had one catch that went for more than 40 yards and averaged 20-plus yards per reception. Both figure to see more looks in Week 2 as defenses may focus more attention on these top targets.
San Antonio Commanders defense
San Antonio didn't pitch a shutout of the San Diego Fleet, but the Commanders' defense definitely had a huge hand in the team's 15-6 victory. The Fleet managed two field goals in the second quarter, but otherwise quarterback Mike Bercovici was under duress all game. He threw two interceptions, was sacked six times, and completed just 15 of his 25 attempts for the game. He also was on the wrong end of one of the biggest hits of the week.
It's just one week but San Antonio's defense certainly had an impressive performance against San Diego and head coach Mike Martz' offense.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Massaquoi, LB, Birmingham Iron
One of the big reasons for the Iron's opening win over the Express was the play of the defense, which held Memphis' offense in check throughout the game. Leading the charge on defense was Massaquoi, the former Troy linebacker who played three seasons for the Falcons (2012-14). Massaquoi posted seven tackles, including three for a loss. He also was credited with two sacks, three quarterback hits, and seemingly was always around the ball this past Sunday afternoon. Next up for the Iron is a home game against the Salt Lake Stallions on Saturday afternoon.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of AAF.com)