THE PINE NEEDLE
PO BOX 1510
253 OLD MAIN
PEMBROKE, NC 28372

For all website inquiries, please contact:

Alex Smith at alexfaye.smith@gmail.com

Taaliyah Carney at

tcc011@bravemail.uncp.edu

Contact the Pine Needle Office:

Phone: 910-521-6204

Email: pineneedle@uncp.edu 

Spurrier and the Orlando Apollos Continue to Roll in the AAF

The former University of South Carolina Gamecocks Head Coach Steve Spurrier continues to lead the hottest team in the Alliance of American Football league in the Orlando Apollos as they remain the only undefeated team in the league at 5-0 after taking down the Birmingham Iron and their No.1 ranked defense on Mar.9.
     With former Carolina Panthers’ reserve quarterback Garrett Gilbert at the helm, the Apollos field the No.1 ranked offense and the No.2 ranked defense in the league through the first five weeks of the season.
     Not only are they the top offense in terms of yards and points scored, but they are also the most explosive offense in the new developmental league as they lead the league in explosive plays as well as yards per play.
     Garrett leads the league in passing yards (1,357), touchdowns (8) and has hooked up with his favorite receiver Charles Johnson, who leads the league in receiving yards, for 493 yards on 29 catches in five games.
     Spurrier and his staff have orchestrated a brilliant and potent offensive attack for the Apollos that features many of the popular schemes and concepts that have been trending in the National Football League in recent years.
     They have been both creative and diverse in their offensive play selection as they tend to keep opposing defenses off balance and force them to stay on their toes by running crossing routes, seam routes that capitalize on mismatches or take advantage of zone coverage, establish a balance in run to pass ratio and calling the occasional timely halfback  screen or draw play.
     The marriage of Spurrier and Gilbert has been a perfect union as they both seem to fit well together. Gilbert has been superb in his play on the field as he makes quick reads, goes through his progressions, spreads the wealth amongst his targets, delivers precise passes and stands tall in the pocket.
     Running back D’Ernest Johnson has been a revelation for Orlando’s rushing attack since supplanting Akeem Hunt as the starter. He has been decisive when making his cuts, shown excellent vision when reading which holes to hit and has been tough to take down as he consistently breaks tackles and bounces off of would be talkers.
     Johnson has also been a reliable target out of the backfield, showing off his soft hands, willingness to follow his blockers and weave through the defense on screens as well as his ability to make defenders miss in the open field.  
     Their defense has been making splash and difference-making plays week in and week out with nearly the same amount of regularity as their offensive counterparts on the other side of the ball. They play really well together and make big plays at every level. Three of the top five leaders in sacks are members of their front seven.
     Their pass rush has been relentless and the defenders at the second and third level of their defense have exhibited excellent instincts when diagnosing plays, reading the eyes of opposing quarterbacks and breaking on the ball.
     Linebacker Terrance Garvin and cornerback Keith Reaser have been two of the best and brightest stars on that side of the ball as they both have shown great ball skills with each of them have corralled three interceptions and have reached the end zone for a pick-six, with Reaser recording two in the last three weeks.
     Former NFL standout safety Will Hill III and linebacker Reggie Northrup have been the thumpers on that side of the ball as they are the surest tacklers and heaviest hitters. They both diagnose and play the run extremely well as they consistently deliver the wood at the line of scrimmage and bring down ball carriers in the backfield.

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