Players To Watch: Week 12

July 13, 2023
By Daniel Cohen

The biggest weekend of the regular season, the Week 12 slate is sure to live up to the hype; leading MVP candidates meeting out West, statement games needed for the last remaining playoff spots, and the best teams in the league looking to reach peak form late in the season. Seven games this week between playoff and playoff-hopeful teams, as big individual performances could come in waves this weekend. 

Calvin Brown, Los Angeles Aviators

Back with the Aviators for his first game since 2021, Calvin Brown is expected to make his 2023 debut this Saturday against the Oakland Spiders. He was just 20-years-old when he played his most recent AUDL season and was super productive that year, splitting his games evenly between O-line and D-line and finishing with a statline of 25 assists, 14 goals, and 12 blocks in eight games. Fresh off a Team USA gold medal win at the U24 World Championships this past weekend, Brown will add significant firepower to an Aviators team looking to edge out Oakland for the third playoff spot in the West. With the LA offense continuing to build chemistry and the D-line struggling to convert breaks, expect Brown to slot in on defense to potentially serve as their go-to gunslinging quarterback on the counterattack, especially without Chris Mazur in the lineup.

Dexter Clyburn, Oakland Spiders

Last time we saw Dexter Clyburn in action, he put himself in the Rookie of the Year conversation with an incredible performance in Oakland’s upset win over Colorado in Week 8. The offense was missing two of their main backfield cogs in Chris Lung and Mac Hecht, and Clyburn slotted into a primary handling role despite recording fewer than 25 touches in each of his four prior games. On a 45-of-48 (93.8 percent) throwing day, Clyburn racked up 759 yards of offense with seven assists and a goal, including the game-winning huck to Keenan Laurence. He took over as an all-around offensive weapon after mostly serving as a big-play cutter to start the year, and he gave a clear boost to Oakland’s offensive ceiling. This week, the Spiders offense could be at full-strength, so it’ll be interesting to see how Clyburn’s role adjusts given his most recent performance. Regardless of his workload, Clyburn is bound to make some more jaw-dropping plays in front of the home crowd in the Spiders’ first game against LA.

David Cranston, DC Breeze

David Cranston drew a lot of the James Pollard matchup in DC’s first meeting with the Phoenix this season, and he contained him fairly well considering the damage Pollard’s been inflicting on his opponents lately. While Pollard had a game-high 401 receiving yards in Week 2, Cranston helped limit him as both a thrower and scorer; Pollard had a season-low 49 throwing yards (with zero huck completions) and just four total scores. Cranston’s become known for his big mark and physicality in the deep space, and he prides himself on taking away the big play, which directly contrasts with “Big Game” James’ playstyle. Limiting Pollard is always going to be a critical part of the gameplan whenever DC and Philly meet, and if Cranston wins more battles than he loses, DC should have no problem ending Philly’s season with another strong defensive showing.

Jay Froude, Colorado Summit (Pictured)

The last time Jay Froude faced the New York Empire, he went down with an injury in the 2019 AUDL Championship Game after playing just five points for Dallas. The only full game he’s played against them in his eight-year career was in the 2018 semifinals, where Froude totaled four assists and five goals in Dallas’ win to advance to the championship. He’ll play his third career game against the Empire tomorrow night, as the Summit get set to host the defending champs for their first ever meeting, and Froude has been known to shine on the biggest stages. He took on last year’s Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Joel Clutton with a head full of steam in each of their 2022 meetings, and there’s plenty more all-star matchup potential with Ben Jagt and Antoine Davis on the other side in tomorrow’s game. Froude’s served as a balancing piece for the Summit O-line this year, but he’s still shown off his playmaking ability on a regular basis on both sides of the disc. Froude’s up to double-digit blocks this year, and his ability to earn the disc back against one of the best counterattacks in the league could prove  critical for Colorado’s chances of pulling off the upset.

Liam Haberfield, Atlanta Hustle

The Carolina Flyers had no answer for Liam Haberfield in the first Atlanta-Carolina game this season, as Haberfield topped 500 total yards of offense with eight scores—his best game of the year. The New Zealand import has shown a ton of versatility in his rookie season, as he’s filled a variety of roles in the Hustle offense. We’ve seen him as a backfield anchor, a chain-moving midfield hybrid, and a red zone finisher in his five games played thus far, all the while possessing one of the deadliest flick hucks in the entire league. He’ll be active this Saturday against the Flyers for the first time in over a month, and Atlanta has a chance to secure the top spot in the South with a win. Another big game from Haberfield and the offense should put the pressure on a less-than-full-strength Carolina squad to keep pace with their South Division rivals.

Jordan Kerr, Salt Lake Shred

I don’t love having repeats on this list during the regular season, but we’ll make exceptions this week for Jordan Kerr and Ryan Osgar because let’s not kid ourselves—of all the active players in the league, these are the two we’re watching this weekend. Kerr’s coming off a season-best 11-score game against Portland, as he led the Shred’s O-line to the most efficient offensive game in AUDL history; the unit converted 15-of-16 possessions (94 percent), the first time an O-line has ever converted better than 90 percent in a game. Leading the league in scores (77) and plus/minus (75), Kerr finds himself in the thick of the MVP race for the second season in a row, despite the role shift in Year 2 versus Year 1 with Salt Lake. While Kerr no longer needs to be the every-possession finisher due to the across-the-board improvement of the O-line, he’s been expanding his downfield receiving role while remaining the most dangerous red zone weapon in the league. This Saturday’s bout with New York has “statement game” written all over it, both for Kerr and his MVP candidacy, but more importantly for the Shred as a franchise. 

Ryan Osgar, New York Empire

Considering he won it last year, coupled with the fact that there’ve been three repeat winners of the award, I’m not sure why there hasn’t been more mention of Ryan Osgar’s name in the MVP conversation to this point. Maybe it’s the fact he’s only played 7.5 games this year, but Osgar has remained one of the most consistently dominant offensive players in the league; he currently ranks top seven in the league in scores, assists, and plus/minus despite having played just 127 points (by comparison, Kerr has played 243 points). This Saturday it’s Osgar versus Kerr, 2022 MVP versus 2022 MVP runner-up, and in my mind, the two leading candidates for the award once again. Alongside Kerr, Osgar is one of the best in the business at no-hesitation, perfectly shaped throws into the end zone following precise cuts out of the stack, and the way he can single-handedly usher in score after score for the New York offense makes his performances some of the most fun to watch in the entire sport. Fingers crossed we get offensive clinics on both sides from two of the best scorers in the game. 

Previous weeks:

Follow Daniel Cohen on Twitter