Logan Woodside was the San Antonio Commanders’ starting quarterback for the second straight game.
And Woodside did indeed get off to a good start as the Commanders put up touchdowns on their first two possession on Sunday at the Alamodome.
But the Commanders didn’t score an offensive touchdown the rest of the game and the Orlando Apollos rallied in the fourth quarter for a 37-29 victory.
“They’re a lot of Tampa-two (defense),” Woodside said. “It made it hard on us. We really had to be patient to pick and choose our spots to take our shots and just tried to move it down the field.
“They made a good adjustment the second half. Played some zone. Dropped some guys out of there. Credit to coach Spurrier and that defensive staff for what they did. They made it hard on us.”
For the game Woodside completed 20-of-39 passes for 223 yards. He threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Evan Rodriguez. Woodside’s longest passes of the game were for 29 yards to De’Marcus Ayers and also 29 yards to Mekale McKay.
In what was the most crucial play of the fourth quarter, Woodside threw an interception that Orlando’s Keith Reaser returned 38 yards for a touchdown to put the Apollos in front for good.
“It’s off coverage. We ran a 10-yard out route, something we do every day in practice,” Woodside said. “I have all the confidence in the world to throw it to Mekale McKay. Threw a good ball, threw it on time. He just made a play.
“That’s football. I’m not going to stop throwing it because he made an interception. He just made a really good play and all credit to him.”
The San Antonio Commanders made a temporary change of quarterbacks Sunday.
Marquise Williams entered the game in the second quarterback and played for one possession in the Commanders’ 37-29 loss to the Orlando Apollos at the Alamodome.
Williams completed 2-of-4 passes for 3 yards. His completions went for a 6-yard gain and 3-yard loss. He also ran with the ball three times for 32 yards including a 17-yard gain.
The Commanders got a 50-yard field goal from Nick Rose at the end of the drive to extend their lead to 15-8.
“I think Marquise, as you saw, made some plays,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “We should have put him back in the second half and lost track of what was going on there when he should have gone back in. But we’ll continue to do that with him.”
Here is the official play-by-play for the Commanders’ possession with Williams at quarterback.
San Antonio Commanders at 12:53
1-10-SA 25 (12:53) (Shotgun) M.Williams left guard to SA 25 for no gain (T.Parks; E.Okine). New QB #12 Williams
1-10-SA 25(12:21) (Shotgun) K.Farrow, II right tackle to SA 27 for 2 yards (R.Davis, Sr.; G.Newberry).
2-10-SA 25(11:48) (Shotgun) M.Williams scrambles up the middle to SA 42 for 15 yards (W.Hill, III).
3-8-SA 27R11(11:08) (Shotgun) M.Williams pass incomplete deep left to D.Ayers.
1-10-SA 42(11:01) (Shotgun) K.Farrow, II left guard to SA 48 for 6 yards (T.Parks; J.Evans).
2-10-SA 42(10:22) (Shotgun) M.Williams scrambles right end to ORL 35 for 17 yards (L.Gunter).
3-4-SA 48R12(9:36) (Shotgun) M.Williams pass short left to A.Moore to ORL 38 for -3 yards (L.Gunter).
1-10-ORL 35(9:10) (Shotgun) M.Williams pass incomplete short middle to G.Ward, Jr..
2-13-ORL 38Timeout #2 by SA at 09:05.(9:05)
3-13-ORL 38(9:05) (Shotgun) M.Williams pass short left to A.Green to ORL 32 for 6 yards (L.Gunter) [A.Moten, Jr.].
4-7-ORL 32(8:24) N.Rose 50 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-S.Daly, Holder-J.Zema
ORL 8 SA 15, 10 plays, 43 yards, 4:33 drive, 6:40 elapsed
After the one possession, starter Logan Woodside returned at quarterback.
“We think that they both should play by really what they’ve done,” Riley said. “I failed on that the first game and we decided just to go put him in the third series of the game today and we should have done that the second half too.
“I’m not really suggesting too big of a drama part of this thing. I wouldn’t do it if I thought it was hurting our team. I think he’s earned that position to play. We kind of look at the bulk of the work that was done from mini-camp all the way through.”
The Commanders, who scored touchdowns with their first two possession of the game with Woodside at quarterback, didn’t score an offensive touchdown the rest of the game.
“I do think Logan is our starter. I like him,” Riley said. “But I think Marquise, as you saw, can give us a change of pace.”
The San Antonio Commanders scored their only touchdown of the season opener on a 3-yard run.
That scoring run, however, was set up by the Commanders’ longest offensive play of the game – a 46-yard pass from Logan Woodside to Alonzo Moore.
The long pass was an example of why Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said Woodside earned the starting quarterback position.
“When you have the opportunity to have explosive plays like we did to Alonzo Moore down to the goal line, that makes the offense’s job that much easier,” Johnston said. “So to have that faith, that trust to turn that ball loose and to know your wide receiver is going to go up and make a play or keep that defense from making a play, that’s a big step. We felt that’s where Logan had made strides toward the end of training camp.”
Johnston won three Super Bowl as a fullback with the Dallas Cowboys. His outlook on offense was influenced by former Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner and the part long passes played in Turner’s approach. Commanders coach Mike Riley, while a big proponent of a strong running game, also includes long pass plays in his game plan.
“I love the way Mike constructs the vertical elements in this passing game,” Johnston said. “Logan is the one guy, and this is a phrase Norv always talked about, turn the ball loose. When you get one-on-one, we should win that. Logan is the one quarterback, and Marquise (Williams) is getting a little better at it, of trusting our guys in one-on-one situations – that they’re going to make a play and that nothing negative is going to happen.”
For the game, Woodside completed 18-of-36 passes for 255 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and was sacked three times.
Woodside also completed a 37-yard pass to Greg Ward Jr. and a 22-yard pass to Mekale McKay.
“We consider one-on-one vs. our guys a win for us,” Johnston said. “Logan is the one guy who has really kind of bought into that. We’re starting to see Marquise do it a little bit more. And it’s the area we’re going to try to push Dustin (Vaughan) to, because I still really feel that Dustin throws the best football out here.
“When we’re in skelaton and we’re throwing on air, Dustin is outstanding. When we get into the team elements I’d like to see Dustin stretch the field a little bit more and be a more aggressive. We felt that was something Logan was doing that was going to benefit us.”
Logan Woodside sprinted out onto the field at the Alamodome on Saturday night as almost 28,000 fans cheered.
“I just got chills. It was kind of surreal,” Woodside said. “I was excited. The fans were excited and they were into it. It was just an overall great experience.”
For the the first time since the 2017 college season, the former University of Toledo quarterback was starting in a real football game.
“It was unbelievable,” Woodside said. “First the fans came out and supported us. They said 27,000 people were here. It was electric. It was everything I dreamed of.”
Woodside was the San Antonio Commanders’ opening game starter after going through a quarterback competition with Dustin Vaughan and Marquise Williams. Woodside completed 18-of-36 passes for 255 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptioons as the Commanders beat the San Diego Fleet 15-6 in their AAF debut.
“I felt really good. I think we did a great job on offense,” Woodside said. “A couple of the drives stalled out a little bit. I wish we could have had those points in the red zone. But overall I feel good.”
Woodside completed some key passes in the game. He hit Mekale McKay for a 22-yard completion and Greg Ward Jr. with a 37-yard completion.
His biggest play of the night was a 46-yard pass to Alonzo Moore on the last play of the third quarter. That set up a 3-yard scoring run by Kenneth Farrow II for the only touchdown of the game.
“They did a great job,” Woodside said of the Commanders receivers. “They were in the right spots at the right times and made the big plays when we needed to. I went back and watched Greg’s catch. I didn’t know it was that great of a catch until I went back and saw it on Twitter. Just an unbelievable play and all around the guys did a really good job.”
Woodside also survived some tough moments in the game. He was sacked three times and had an interception in the red zone that cost the Commanders points.
“I thought Logan played well,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “I thought he made a lot of big plays. I’m sure that just like almost every quarterback in every game would like to have a couple of plays back.
“But I thought he competed really well and, like I said, he made some big plays – made some big plays in the end that were the difference maker.”
Throughout the San Antonio Commanders training camp in January, four quarterbacks shared the repititions in practice.
After the team cut down the regular-season roster to 52 players – including three remaining quarterbacks – all three passers shared time running the offense in practice.
On Thursday, in the last public practice before the season opener, something looked different.
Logan Woodside was getting a lot of work with the offense in the latter part of practice.
Commanders coach Mike Riley still didn’t name a starter when he met with the media at the end of practice. “We’re not quite ready to do that,” Riley said.
But Riley had plenty of positive things to say about Woodside.
“Logan has kind of got an all-around upside,” Riley said. “He’s a good athlete. His mobility is helpful, whether you use him as a runner, he can do that. But he certainly can escape and move in the pocket, so he’s got athletic ability.
“He’s got a nice quick arm, a good release. He’s a very decisive thrower. He makes decisions and gets rid of the ball. He has been accurate. With everything we’ve said, that’s kind of the icing on the cake. You’ve got to be accurate.”
Dustin Vaughan and Marquise Williams are the other two quarterbacks on the roster.
Riley had insisted throughout mini-camp and training camp that he wanted to leave the quarterback competition as open as possible.
“First and foremost you’ve got to thank the coaches for dedicating their time,” Woodside said. “They put in a lot of hours for us to come in and learn.”
Woodside made a big impression last weekend in the team’s preseason game – which was not open to the public. The Commanders open the season Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet.
If Woodside is the Commanders’ starting quarterback on Saturday, it might have been his performance in the preseason game that put him over the top. The preseason game also helped the former Toledo quarterback feel game ready again.
“Just some good game reps,” Woodside said. “Good to get hit again. First time in a while that I’ve been hit, so that was good. I tried to make some more progress and connections with some of the receivers.”
H-E-B providing tickets to military
The Commanders announced H-E-B will partner with the United Service Organizations (USO) to donate tickets for the team’s inaugural game to active-duty military members in the San Antonio area.
Thursday’s practice injury report
SAN DIEGO FLEET
LB Travis Feeney (Elbow) FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Curtis Mikell (Ankle) LIMITED
WR Nelson Spruce (Calf) FULL PARTICIPATION
C Jeremiah Kolone (Ankle) DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Gavin Escobar (Ribs) LIMITED
SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS
RB Trey Williams (Foot) DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Jordan Thomas (Thigh) DID NOT PARTICIPATE
S Derron Smith (Foot) FULL PARTICIPATION
For the first time since the roster was cut down to 52 players, the San Antonio Commanders hit the practice field at Central Catholic High School on Thursday morning.
The season opener Feb. 9 at the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet is just over a week away. The Commanders braintrust is transitioning from deciding who will make the team to who will be the starters.
“It’s interesting. All of a sudden there’s a lot less bodies out there,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “But it is, like a told them today, it’s like a new beginning.
“We had a great training camp. We’ve received great hospitality here in San Antonio. It’s a great to have this as our home city. We love that part of it. This feels and is a new beginning heading into the regular season.”
Riley said the coaches have seen enough to have a good idea of who the key players will be. That will be settled in the very near future.
“We’re close. We could actually do it right now today,” Riley said of deciding the starters. “But we don’t need to yet. We’ll probably have that pretty well set starting our game week next week.”
The most visually obvious change at Thursday’s practice was that the number of bright yellow jerseys – worn by the quarterbacks – was down from four to three. Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside took an equal number of reps in practice. Dalton Sturm, the fourth quarterback in training camp, is not on the 52-man roster.
Although Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said on Thursday that Vaughan is currently the team’s No. 1 quarterback, Riley hasn’t named a starter yet.
“That position is certainly a key element in what anybody does in football,” Riley said. “We are fortunate to have three guys. We really had four. Dalton was a really tough cut. I think he’s a good player. I hope he resurfaces with the Commanders some day. But we’re in good hands I think with our quarterbacking.
“We haven’t named a No. 1 quarterback yet. We’ve let them all play almost equally as we’ve gone. (Vaughan) was the first pick and he probably got the first reps all through camp and into the (practice) game the other day.”
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston has lived through player cuts as a college and NFL player.
The former Dallas Cowboys fullback was on the other side of that on Wednesday when Alliance of American Football (AAF) teams announced their 52-man rosters, down from 75 in training camp.
“Today was one of the more challenging days I’ve been a part of,” Johnston said. “We started this journey several months ago. We’ve gone from 85 down into the 60s back up to 75 and now today we had to come down to 52. There were some really hard decisions we had to make. We think we picked a very competitive 52, but time will tell.
“They’re great guys. That was the thing that made it the hardest. We had good players but we had great guys.”
The Commanders kept three quarterbacks – Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside. The fourth quarterback in camp, former UTSA starter Dalton Sturm, did not make the 52-man roster. Johnston said the league recommends having three quarterbacks on the roster and AAF rules call for three quarterbacks to be suited up on game day. Vaughan finished training camp as the team’s No. 1 quarterback.
Johnston said some of the toughest roster decisions were at receiver, linebacker and running back. The receiver position was complicated by some players suffering injuries in training camp and a few players joining the team late in camp.
The decision at running back was influenced by how the team performed in practice games on Sunday and Monday.
“We were prepared to go in with three running backs,” Johnston said. “We saw how well we ran the football. We saw our physical the runners were. We decided four would be better. Then Trey Williams came up with a turf toe coming out of the game.
“Aaron Green did a great job on Monday night. I’m really impressed with him not only as a runner, but special teams is something that I don’t know how much of a part of his background that was, and he’s done a really good job of embracing special teams.”
Kenneth Farrow II, David Cobb, Green and Williams are the four running backs on the roster.
Update: I just heard from wide receiver Riley Smith, who is not on the 52-man roster. Smith said he is on the injured list and expects to be activated when he is fully healthy.
For three of the San Antonio Commanders’ four quarterbacks, Saturday’s practice at the Alamodome gave them their first chance to work out at their home stadium.
Dalton Sturm played in the Alamodome as his home college stadium with the UTSA Roadrunners.
Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams, Logan Woodside and Sturm are in a four-way competition to be the Commanders’ starting quarterback. They are also fighting for roster spots if the team keeps less than four quarterbacks.
After a day off from practice Friday, the team returned to the field at Central Catholic High School under clear blue skies and temperatures in the 60s.
It looks like Dustin Vaughan is the leader in the four-way quarterback competition. Riley said not so fast. There is no depth chart yet and nobody has publicly been named the starter or first quarterback.
“At this point we’ve got a group of players, it’s a first-year team, a beautiful thing to see take place,” Riley said of the competition in training camp. “I just want to leave the door open so that all of these guys can think of it as an opportunity. The real depth chart doesn’t have to take place for a while.”
Faces on the sidelines
Alliance of American Football (AAF) co-founder Charlie Ebersol and former Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher visited Commanders training camp on Saturday.
Two new players
The Commanders have added offensive lineman Mason Gentry from SMU and wide receiver Greg Ward Jr. from Houston to the roster. The Commanders also terminated the rights of defensive back Tre Dickerson.
From the Commanders daily news release:
Appeared in 45 career games at Southern Methodist University along the defensive line … transitioned to
offensive line after college … made 107 tackles in college, including 8.0 for loss, 4.5 sacks and four passes
defended … undrafted in 2018 NFL Draft.
Greg Ward Jr.
Played in 49 career games at the University of Houston … played wide receiver and quarterback as a freshman
before switching to quarterback full time as a sophomore … amassed 11,080 yards and 93 total touchdowns at
Houston … 2015 Earl Campbell Award winner … ranked third in total yards, fourth in passing yards and 10 in
rushing yards at Houston … member of the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles’ practice squad in 2017 …
undrafted in 2017 NFL Draft.