Week 6 Preview With Running Back James Butler

Unbeaten Roughnecks go on the road

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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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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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