December 14, 2022
By Adam Ruffner
In the current era of the AUDL, offense reigns supreme. Each of the previous six league champions has had a top two offense, and each of the last three title winners committed fewer than 10 turnovers in the championship game—possession is king.
But what exactly are the characteristics—the DNA—of a good AUDL offense? Efficiency and precision with the disc have become the dominant meta for offensive strategy, with teams like DC and New York exemplifying the machine-like, finely tuned, high speed processing of pro level throws. But even as precision passing and smallball take over, there are still teams like Carolina and Colorado who employ the deep ball to great effect, using the size of the field and their athletes to tilt games in their favor.
The following examination looks at the six best offenses from the past season, and the tools each team used to overcome defensive coverage.
Teams are listed alphabetically.
2022 regular season record: 9-3
22.77 scores per game (7th)
94.09% team completion rate (6th)
59.21% O-line conversion rate (6th)
84.36% red zone conversion rate (3rd)
7.69 hucks per game (12th)
16.77 turnovers per game (8th)
The Austin Sol had one of the most versatile lineups in the league in 2022, with five of their offensive starters finishing with at least 20 assists and 15 goals. Veteran Paul Starkel and rookie Jake Radack quickly fused in their first season together as throwing partners, with Starkel providing tight space resets and stability while Radack brought an unprecedented power to the Austin offense. Their solid handler play set the table for standout strikers Evan Swiatek, Kyle Henke, and Mark Evans to be among the most productive scoring trios in the league. And if that wasn’t enough, the receiving duo of Vinay Valsaraj and Reese Bowman combined for nearly five goals and 300 receiving yards per game.
Austin’s preferred mode of attack was in the open field. Radack has the range from at least 65 yards out at a standstill, while Henke and Evans both can expose opposing defenses with their continuation throws in transition; the development of throwers has allowed the Sol to attack from seemingly every angle, and has given their offense new dimensions. Literally.
And their team speed might only be exceeded by Carolina. Austin’s O-line loved to stretch defenses vertically and target their athletes in one-on-one matchups, a scheme they’re very confident in attacking.
The Sol became an elite red zone team this season. The Austin coaching staff has made this team one of the best units at situational ultimate, and their pace and fluidity with the disc visibly upticks in goal line scenarios. Swiatek is a star in tight spaces, and his hadouken jab-step gives him leverage against virtually any defender, with a never-quit motor that keeps him churning until he finds paydirt by any means necessary.
2022 regular season record: 11-1
21.64 scores per game (10th)
94.88% team completion rate (3rd)
63.74% O-line conversion rate (2nd)
84.21% red zone conversion rate (4th)
8.5 hucks per game (7th)
13.79 turnovers per game (3rd)
There is not a weak link on the Carolina Flyers offense. Losing 2021 All-AUDL selection Allan Laviolette for the season—not to mention 2021 Rookie of the Year Anders Juengst sidelined for all but four games this year—would be catastrophic subtractions from most starting lineups. But Carolina continued their dynamic offensive attack in 2022, blitzing opposing defenses with their stacked rotation of throwers, otherworldly team speed, and minimal mistakes.
The backfield battery of Sol Yanuck and Matt Gouchoe-Hanas are the blueprint for handler synchronicity, adeptly balancing pick-and-pop possession drives with one of the most potent deep games in the AUDL. Gouchoe-Hanas is the most reliable backfield presence in the league, and becomes a fullback near the end zone, able to transform into a short yardage receiver to bully past goal line defenses. Yanuck led the league in throwing yards in 2021, and though he’s known for his big arm, the fourth-year Flyer showed an impressive receiving skill set while guarded by Marques Brownlee in this year’s semifinals.
As solo receivers they are two of the most skilled bigs in the league, but as a duo Jacob Fairfax and Henry Fisher are downright nightmarish in the open field. Fisher in particular has evolved as a thrower over the past two seasons, and can now punish teams over the top with his hucks if they give him too much cushion. And Fairfax remains one of the most imposing athletes in the air.
The Fastest Man In Ultimate Alex Davis exploded for 57 goals in his second season, tying for third in the league and replicating much of Juengst’s production in his stead. Davis is often working with and off of Terrence Mitchell in space, another one of the fastest humans in the league and a veteran who has honed his overall craft for years.
There is so much depth here, the Flyers often float 2022 All-AUDL Second Team selection Eric Taylor between offensive and defensive rotations depending on the matchups they like.
Carolina has the talent, the rotations, and the discipline to beat defenses in almost any and every circumstance.
2022 regular season record: 11-1
23.07 scores per game (5th)
94.06% team completion rate (7th)
63.56% O-line conversion rate (4th)
82.28% red zone conversion rate (5th)
7.07 hucks per game (17th)
15.87 turnovers per game (7th)
With playmakers at every position and anchored by the league’s premier passer in Pawel Janas, the Chicago Union played a smart, cerebral style of offense this year that could adapt on the fly. And what the Union lacked in hucking volume they made up for in precision, completing the fifth highest percentage of their deep passes in the AUDL in 2022.
Janas has shown the ability to shoulder an entire offensive workload on his own for years. But with Sam Kaminsky and Kyle Rutledge flanking him in the backfield, the Union offense showed more potency than ever before as all three throwers were extremely mobile; Janas, Kaminsky, and Rutledge combined for 75 goals this past season, and were extremely effective in the red zone on what were effectively replicas of a fullback dive play in football, often times barreling upline for short yardage goals.
The Union receiving quartet have an almost ideal composition of complementary features. Ross Barker has won back-to-back selections as the division’s “Best Cutter” in the AUDL Players Choice Awards, and has become a prototypical striker as the primary option coming out of the stack. Jeff Weis had a career season in 2022, fully combining his raw size and speed with a sharp throwing sense that made him a beast in single coverage. Paul Arters has an Osgar-like forehand-and-athleticism skills package when available. And after an injury hampered the 2021 season, Jack Shanahan bounced back in his third year as a big target, big armed cutter that was essential to the team’s runner-up finish.
Chicago executed equally well in big spaces and in small confines, and their well-coached chemistry allowed for seamless transitions between coverages. With Janas on point and a spread offense attack, the Union dictated many of their drives.
2022 regular season record: 11-1
23.86 scores per game (3rd)
94.11% team completion rate (5th)
62.32% O-line conversion rate (5th)
76.60% red zone conversion rate (15th)
9.93 hucks per game (2nd)
15.21 turnovers per game (5th)
There was a certain inevitability when the Colorado Summit signed Jonathan Nethercutt and gave him a cutting core stocked with dynamic receivers—thin mountain air and the world’s best deep thrower is a kind of rocket fuel for offense. And sure enough, Nethercutt and company produced one of the most dangerous deep games the league has ever seen, capable of high volume huck throws that were also precise; Colorado had the fifth highest huck completion percentage and the fifth best turnover rate in the league despite their aggressiveness with the deep ball.
Nethercutt led the league in throwing yards and huck completions in his first season with the Summit, and the weapons around the former MVP ignited the team’s semifinals run. Jay Froude was as good as ever as a striker, but may have been surpassed as Colorado’s number one receiving option by the end of the season by teammate Quinn Finer; the “Rookie of the Year” runner-up Finer finished with team highs in goals (53) and receiving yards (4116), and has positioned himself as a true star. After logging the fewest receiving yards in the league in 2021 with Dallas, veteran Matt Jackson reinvented himself with the Summit and regained his dual threat offensive prowess; rookie Daniel Brunker has a similar game to Jackson. Thomas Brewster may have been the most reliable receiver in the league as a rookie in 2022, posting a 43:3 goals-to-turnover ratio, and accounting for almost 3400 total yards. And 21-year-old star prospect Danny Landesman showed another evolution as a thrower in his third season as a pro, able to quarterback the O-line for long stretches alongside Nethercutt.
The Summit were prone to making mistakes inside the red zone, which was their ultimate undoing against Chicago in the semifinals. But with a healthy Alex Atkins in the lineup and another year of development, Colorado looks ready to bolster their technical execution to the same levels as their open field playmaking in 2023.
2022 regular season record: 10-2
23.43 scores per game (4th)
95.17% team completion rate (2nd)
63.31% O-line conversion rate (3rd)
85.05% red zone conversion rate (2nd)
6.29 hucks per game (21st)
13.64 turnovers per game (2nd)
As Daniel Cohen pointed out in his insightful piece on the hybrid position, the entire DC Breeze offense is built on the idea of interchangeable roles. Rowan McDonnell functions as the central talisman, but every starter on the Breeze O-line can fill both primary thrower and receiver duties. That kind of versatility gives the Breeze leverage in a majority of situations, and makes their uptempo, precision passes all the more effective. For what DC may lack in power they make up for in pace and attack points.
Rowan operated as the main engine as he returned to his MVP production levels this season. But Tyler Monroe and Jonny Malks both took visible steps forward in 2022 with their decisiveness and execution with the disc, combining for 120 scores and over 11,000 yards of total offense. Malks continued to improve as an elite mobile passer after his 2021 All-AUDL selection, while Monroe has become a Travis Kelce-like receiving option, capable of stretching safety valve plays into big scores with his athleticism.
Christian Boxley has always been a finisher for his speed, averaging 3.5 goals per game in 19 career starts. But in 2022, he refined his throws more than ever and became one of the most valuable connector pieces in any offense, able to probe and exploit gaps in almost any coverage. Jacques Nissen, Jeff Wodatch, and Steven Wartinbee could all be primary facilitators on other teams, but they excel as rhythm hybrids in the Breeze system, picking and choosing their spots.
The Breeze capitalized on method without being methodical, running weaves and circuits with enough wrinkles that left defenses guessing on options. At peak performance, there’s a kind of centrifugal force at play, with Breeze players speeding up their passes with increasing intensity as they seek to convert scores.
New York Empire
2022 regular season record: 12-0
24.27 scores per game (2nd)
95.32% team completion rate (1st)
68.92% O-line conversion rate (1st)
86.13% red zone conversion rate (1st)
7.07 hucks per game (16th)
12.87 turnovers per game (1st)
The 2022 Empire offense was the best unit in league history. This lineup was so stacked they swapped the then two-time reigning MVP (Ben Jagt) to defense midseason, and still finished with the most efficient O-line ever. Ryan Osgar was a cyborg with or without the disc, putting up the most efficient MVP season ever. It was a season of superlatives for the undefeated champs.
Admittedly, it’s easy to swap out Jagt on offense when the replacement is Jeff Babbitt, who finished the season tied for the third most goals in the AUDL. The 6’5” John Lithio was just as effective in his second year with the team, and played nearly perfect during the team’s deep playoff run; the two bigs combined for just 16 total turnovers while combining for nearly 7800 receiving yards over the course of the season. Add in Charles Weinberg—a skilled striker hybrid who excelled in his first year in New York—and the Empire downfield quartet of Osgar-Weinberg-Babbitt-Lithio presented mismatches everywhere; New York was selective with their hucks, but finished with the third highest huck completion percentage in the league.
Jack Williams is the best quarterback in the league, as demonstrated by his two performances at 2022 Championship Weekend in Madison. But the league’s most clutch player has some great companions in the backfield in Elliott Chartock and Solomon Rueschemeyer-Bailey. Chartock has some of the crispest break and reset throws to put teammates in power position, and Rueschemeyer-Bailey has just 15 throwaways compared to 910 completions over the past two seasons. Williams is the tip of the spear, but both Chartock and SRB have good instincts for when to attack with their throws, and increasingly more with their legs.
But above the cosmic talent and execution of this Empire offense is the comfort they exude as a collective—there’s no squeaky wheels. There’s no nerves. Every player is custom tailored for their given role, and despite the large number of big moments this team has faced, there’s no hesitation in what they’re supposed to do with the disc.
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