Atlanta Hustle 2023 Season Preview
By: Wyeth Coombs
The Atlanta Hustle are gearing up for the 2023 AUDL season and are looking for return to the playoffs in 2023 after barely missing the postseason last year. Here's a preview of what to expect from your Hustle this season.
Last Season's Results:
2022 record: 8-4, 3rd in the South Division
Points per game (PPG): 20.8 (ranked 14th)
PPG allowed: 17.8 (ranked 3rd)
Wins: Tampa Bay Cannons (x4), Dallas Legion (x2), Austin Sol, Indianapolis Alley Cats
Losses: Carolina Flyers (x3), Austin Sol
Key Players Returning:
Austin Taylor led the team in assists (46) and receiving yards last season in a dominant offensive season for the Hustle . Look for Taylor to continue to be a key contributor to the Hustle's offense this season as well as vying for an MVP trophy.
Returning for his 7th season with the Hustle, Matt Smith is a constant threat to opposing defenses as a receiver with his quickness and agility. He should be a full go this season after only appearing in 9 of 12 games last year.
JP Burns is a versatile defender who can play anywhere on the field. He's known for his athleticism and quick thinking, making him a valuable asset to the Hustle's defense.
After missing last season with an Achilles injury, Jakeem Polk is back and ready to make an impact. His speed and athleticism will make an already strong defense even better in 2023.
Bobby Ley is a skilled handler with a strong throwing arm. He finished with 31 assists last season for the Hustle and will continue to make a big impact on offense.
Key Players Leaving:
Elijah Jaime led the team last year with 40 goals, so his absence will definitely be felt. He was a key part of the Hustle's offense and brought a lot of energy to the team. Jaime joined the Salt Lake Shred for the 2023 season.
Kelvin Williams has been with the Hustle for 6 years, appearing in 71 games in his career. He retired over the offseason, and his consistency and defense will surely be missed.
One Bold Prediction:
The Hustle will split the season series with the Carolina Flyers
There are four matchups this season between the Atlanta Hustle and Carolina Flyers, and I believe the Hustle are in position to beat their rivals twice this season. The Hustle did not beat Carolina in three matchups last season, but two of those matchups were only two point losses. Having two games against the Flyers at home will be an advantage for the Hustle, and they will find a way to pull off the upset twice in May and July at Silverbacks Park.
The Hustle are currently ranked 6th in the 2023 preseason power rankings. If they can stay healthy and integrate their new players quickly, they should be a formidable opponent for any team in the league. The schedule is not easy, with the Hustle having to face rival Carolina Flyers four times and go on the road to defending AUDL champs New York Empire. However, there is talent on this roster, and new Coach Tuba Benson-Jaja has worked hard to get the team motivated for this season. I expect the Hustle to clinch a playoff berth and have a chance to make a run for the title.
2023 Record Prediction: 9-3, Second in the South Division