June 1, 2023
By Daniel Cohen
One month into the season, and we’re lucky enough to still have notable 2023 debuts on the horizon. With a loaded slate this week, including multiple double header road trips and must-win games, look for several defining performances from this week’s watchlist.
Sean Connole, Salt Lake Shred
Back at home after a Week 5 bye, Sean Connole and the undefeated Salt Lake Shred rematch the 3-1 Spiders this Saturday after defeating them in overtime in Week 3. The Oakland game was the only game this season where Connole failed to complete a huck—he’s completed at least two throws of 40-plus yards in every other game, and he’s averaging 3.0 huck completions per game when playing at home. Capable of demoralizing defenses with 90-yard bombs, Connole has paired his big arm with improved shot selection this season, as his 94.4 completion rate is up more than two points from last year. The only player with more than 3,000 total yards this season, Salt Lake has a system in place to take full advantage of their dynamic O-line, with Connole able to frequently release from the backfield to strike deep with his legs. He’ll have a full suite of options available to pick apart the Oakland defense this week, as Grant Lindsley returns to the lineup after a two-game absence.
Mac Hecht, Oakland Spiders
Mac Hecht leads the Oakland Spiders into a defining double header road trip this weekend in Salt Lake and Colorado. Through the first month of the season, Hecht has emerged as one of top quarterbacks in the league; he’s currently tied for sixth in the league in assists (16), fourth in throwing yards (1,824), and third in completions (225). The Spiders have the fourth-most efficient offense in the league right now, and Hecht’s ability to initiate, facilitate, and punctuate drives has been a big reason for their early season success. Throwaways have been a problem at times—he had six throwaways in his first game against Salt Lake—but it’s hard to deny his throwing power and creativity give the Spiders one of their higher offensive ceilings in recent history. He’ll have his work cut out for him this week in the toughest road trip out West, as he’ll take on two defenses each averaging over nine breaks per game.
Paul Krenik, Minnesota Wind Chill
Making his 2023 debut this week at home against Chicago, Paul Krenik could be in for an expanded role on Saturday. The Minnesota Wind Chill offense was missing a handful of starters last week in their loss to the Union, and while they’ll return a couple key cutters, Will Brandt and Jason Tschida remain out while Abe Coffin is questionable. Selected to the U24 Worlds Team for 2023, Krenik gives the Wind Chill another versatile piece alongside Bryan Vohnoutka to slot in on either O or D, able to make plays with or without the disc. Despite low usage numbers last year—he averaged under 10 touches per game—Krenik still recorded 26 scores in eight games and averaged 16 yards per touch. He flashed plenty of potential in limited action and is a great candidate for an increased workload in his third year with Minnesota.
Greg Martin, Philadelphia Phoenix
Greg Martin tends to show up in big games; he’s scored five-plus goals in five of his last six games against New York or DC, and the one time he played Carolina in 2021, he threw two assists, scored four goals, and recorded two blocks. The springy Phoenix cutter has helped get the deep game going for the Phoenix, as they completed all 12 of their hucks as a team in Martin’s most recent game vs. New York, compared to their 6.0 per game average over their first three games. Martin missed last week’s bout with Pittsburgh but is back in the lineup for the Week 6 Game of the Week against Carolina. If the Flyers defenders are at all tired from their Friday game vs. DC, Martin could take advantage and run wild on Saturday night.
Jacques Nissen, DC Breeze (Pictured)
Jacques Nissen is set to make his 2023 debut this week against the Carolina Flyers tomorrow night. In past seasons we’ve seen Nissen go from reliable pivot handler to dynamic midfield hybrid, and his presence should further open up a Breeze attack that has yet to reach their potential in 2023—DC is currently converting on 54.1 percent of their offensive possessions, down from last year’s franchise-high 63.7 percent. Recently named as Ultiworld’s number two D-I Men’s player in the country, Nissen has the throws, including a Thor-level hammer, to be an immediate difference-maker in his first game following the college season; no player on DC averaged more throwing yards per game last season than Nissen’s 300. Expect him to be part of an eight to 10-man rotation on the O-line in DC’s second of two meetings with Carolina.
Liam Searles-Bohs, Carolina Flyers
After missing Carolina’s first meeting with DC in the opening weekend, Liam Searles-Bohs is active for round two tomorrow night. Every game for the Flyers going forward is going to feel like a must-win, with Atlanta, Austin and Carolina all within a game of each other in the South Division playoff race. Luckily for the Flyers, they’ll have one of their most complete lineups this season with Searles-Bohs active. In two starts this year, LSB has racked up a combined 927 total yards—no one on the team had more in those two games. The consistency he’s brought to the Flyers O-line has been huge for a team that struggled to find any sort of rhythm in their 0-2 start, and we’ve already seen him do a bit of everything to fit around Carolina’s existing pieces; he has a near-even split of throwing and receiving yards with nine scores and two blocks. Up against DC tomorrow night, then Philly on Saturday, Searles-Bohs will look to serve as a steadying presence throughout the weekend in Carolina’s critical double header road trip.
Pat Shriwise, Madison Radicals
That’s right, we have our first appearance of a coach on the players to watch list! Pat Shriwise has been serving as an assistant coach for the Madison Radicals this season, but after an 0-3 start, enough is enough already. It’s time for him to take matters into his own hands. If he’s anything like he was in his most recent AUDL action playing with Chicago in 2021, Shriwise is sure to bring more consistency to the Radicals O-line, which looked promising through the first two weeks of the season before a rough performance in last week’s home opener. The Radicals legend actually finished with the highest completion rate of his career (97.4 percent) in his one-year stint with the Union, but what he accomplished for Madison the previous seven seasons is what fans will be remembering when he retakes the field on Sunday; he ranks second all-time in Radicals history in assists, third in total scores, and third in total completions. Last time he played Pittsburgh at home in a Radicals jersey, Shriwise had seven scores on 48 touches without a turnover. Time to run it back.
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