The Orlando Guardians prepare for their XFL debut Saturday against the Houston Roughnecks. (Photo via @XFLGuardians on Twitter).

The XFL Debuts This Weekend

The XFL season kicks off this weekend with four games. The Orlando Guardians will debut against the Houston Roughnecks on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.

About the XFL

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson purchased the bankrupt XFL in 2020. Now, after over two years of preparation and brand development, the XFL is finally here. There are a total of eight teams: Arlington Renegades, D.C. Defenders, Houston Roughnecks, Orlando Guardians, San Antonio Brahmas, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers. The teams are split into two divisions: North and South. The XFL has a ten-week regular season, followed by two semi-final games and the championship on May 13. Watch the XFL on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and Fox Sports.

Unique Rules

The XFL has several unique rules differing greatly from NFL rules.

Kickoffs and punts differ greatly from the NFL. Players are not allowed to move until the returner has caught the ball. This encourages few touchbacks and more exciting plays for special teams.

The XFL will not have field goals. There are three options for points following the touchdown: run a play from the 2-yard line (one point), run a play from the 5-yard line (two points) or run a play from the 10-yard line (three points).

Overtime rules also vary from NFL rules. There will be five rounds of a singular offensive play, alternating for each team. Each team will start on their opponent’s five-yard line and will have one play to score. The team with the most points at the end of the five rounds will win. This is meant to mimic NHL shootouts or MLS penalty kicks.

Notable Players

There are multiple former Gators on XFL rosters this season. Running back Matt Jones is on an XFL roster this year, playing for the St. Louis Battlehawks. Jones played in the NFL for the Washington Commanders, Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. The Orlando Guardians have three former Gators on their roster: punter Johnny Townsend, running back Kelvin Taylor and safety Matt Elam.

Orlando Guardians

Assistant coach of the Orlando Guardians and former Gators quarterback Shane Matthews spoke about the XFL’s unique rules and the outlook for the season. He discussed various elements of the XFL. Matthews spoke about the difficulties that come with the rules and structure of the league. Teams are only allowed one hour and 40 minutes each practice and cannot do any extra work. Matthews also spoke about the Guardians, their future in the XFL, and strategy going into the games.

Matthews also discussed the challenges of the small rosters of XFL teams.

He is hopeful for the season, explaining that the Guardians have some great talent.

The Guardians will play their first home game against the San Antonio Brahmas on Feb. 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.

About Ainsley Davis

Ainsley Davis is a second-year sports journalism student at the University of Florida.

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