When the XFL Memphis Maniax (2-2, 1-2), face the undefeated Orlando Rage (4-0, 3-0) at the Liberty Bowl on Sunday, they will in many ways be facing themselves. Both teams have great offenses and while the Maniax feature one of the league’s best defenses, their propensity to commit turnovers has cost them two games. “Nobody’s knocking us around,” says Maniax head coach Kippy Brown. “We’re holding our own up front and pretty much dominating the line of scrimmage.” The same can be said of the Rage. Both teams have relied on a bruising running game. The Rage averages 138 yards a game (first in the XFL) while the Maniax run for 116.8 yards a game (second in the league). The Maniax have had a more productive passing game, throwing for 184 yards per game while the Rage have thrown for 159.8. That slight edge has put the Maniax on top in total offense at an average of 300.8 yards per game. Orlando is second with 297.8 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, Memphis has fared better, limiting their opponents to only 59.8 yards a game. The complete dominance over their opponents rushers places the Maniax at number three in total defense in the league, trailing NY/NJ and Las Vegas by a mere yard. Orlando, on the other hand, has relied on outscoring its opponents -- allowing 97 yards a game rushing and 205.3 yards passing, placing them second to last in the league in defense. With such similar statistics, why is Orlando undefeated while Memphis is 2-2? Turnovers. The Rage have forced 3 opponent turnovers more than they have given, the Maniax has given the ball to opponents five more times than they taken it away. “We just have done some dumb things sometimes,” says Brown. “The reason we are 2-2 is the turnovers.” Last week, in the Maniax win at Los Angeles, the Extreme had four turnovers; the Maniax three. The result was significant win. This week, Memphis will be forced to find some way, any way, to hold onto the football or else the Rage will continue its league-wide dominance. XFL NOTES
  • Maniax QB Marcus Crandell is still second on the depth chart this week, leaving Jim Druckenmiller to make his second start for the Maniax. This gives Druck another chance to repeat his strong performance on the rain-soaked L.A. Coliseum (13-22, 215 yards, 1 TD, 1 int). After the L.A. game, a TV reporter asked Druckenmiller if he felt that he was the most qualified QB on the team. Druck did not hesitate: “Yes I do.”
  • Injuries are weighing on the Maniax, with both of their starting safeties out of commission. Kevin Peoples fractured his fibula and also has a “severe ankle injury” (nothing more specific given) and will be out for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Anthony Marshall separated his shoulder in L.A. and was already playing with a broken hand received in the loss to Las Vegas.
  • Brown is not shy about voicing his opinion on the limitations he faces with the 38 man roster. “We always come up a player short with the 38 [players],” he says. “Every week we’re a player short in some place.”
  • Tomorrow on, watch for an interview with QB Jim Druckenmiller and RB Roosevelt Potts talking about playing the differences in playing in the XFL and the NFL. They also have a few choice comments on XFL officiating.

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