Week 6 Preview With Running Back James Butler

Unbeaten Roughnecks go on the road

Unbeaten Roughnecks go on the road
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James Butler

Under June Jones' run and shoot offense, running isn't a priority. However, we've seen it slowly start to pick up. Do you feel like you and the run game are finally hitting your stride?

"Yeah for sure. I feel like me and Andre have definitely taken advantage of our opportunities. Some teams are starting to drop into zone coverage so often they're giving us light boxes and me and Dre are just really allowed to take advantage of those boxes."

Defensively, the Guardians only allowed 1.8 yards per rush attempt after contact, the best in the XFL last week. Because of the good tackling on this team, do you feel like you can still exploit them using the run game?

"For sure. It's just going to come down to just block and tackle, basic football. It's going to come down to how well we execute on Saturday. "

What's your main focus going up against this Guardians defense? More pass blocking? More catching out of the backfield?

"Just executing what Coach June really has for us. I really like the game plan this week. Hopefully it involves more running back but you never really know. We always find out pretty much on game day what Coach June really gauges or just what the defense is giving us. We take our shots when we need to. I'm just excited for whatever my role may be and take advantage of every opportunity."

I've noticed you've gotten better at your vertical. You seem to be able to make it into the crowd with more ease. Any techniques we should know about?

"So I know a lot people think that I didn't have that high of a vertical my first attempt at the 'Houston Hop' but if you look closely at the film, I slipped going onto the concrete. Now I know when I get to the concrete I have to settle my feet."

Speaking of the crowd, Houston loves you. Does home field advantage play a role for you?

"Oh my gosh, so much. I don't think I can say this enough… I love playing in Houston. I really don't like playing anywhere else. It's been great. The fans are so into it and excited. I even had a fan with a 'jump here' and I saw a sign saying 'Butler was here' in the crowd. It's so cool to see how lively the fans are."

The Houston Roughnecks play the New York Guardians this Saturday at 1pm on ABC.

Things to know about the Guardians going into Week 6:

NY has won two games in a row.

The offense has turned the ball over only once in these two games.

Although this offense is still figuring themselves out, the QB switch to Luis Perez has proven to be a solid move. Perez had the highest QB rating in week 5.

The run game has also picked up. According to Andrew Brill from XFL.com, the Guardians offense gained more yards in the air and on the ground last week, totaling 373 yards, than they had in their four previous games.

Head Coach Kevin Gilbride has done a great job at managing the time clock and allowing his defense to have time off the field to rest.

The Roughnecks will need to start out strong and put up a steady lead early in the game. It's safe to say the concern for the defense this week isn't through the air, it's going to be more on their weak side, containing the run game.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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