CEDAR RAPIDS — Through three games, the bright spots have been hard to find for the Cedar Rapids Titans.
The sixth-year Indoor Football League franchise has lost all three games by an average of over 25 points per contest, and the offense has managed just 15 total points before the fourth quarter.
Given the scoring difficulties, welcome signs of life may be emerging from the defensive side of the ball.
“They’ve played pretty well, for the most part,” first-year Cedar Rapids Coach Marvin McNutt said. “We just need to stop people on fourth down. … We’ve got to make sure we’re stopping them on the money downs when we get those.”
Cedar Rapids (0-3) hosts the Green Bay Blizzard (1-2) Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. The Blizzard defeated the Titans, 46-13, in the season opener.
The Cedar Rapids defense appears to be making headway on the “money downs.” Last week against reigning league MVP Charles McCullum and the Wichita Falls Nighthawks, the Titans’ defense halted drives on seven of eight conversion attempts on third and fourth downs. Conversely, the defense surrendered first downs 11 times out of 24 combined third and fourth down attempts during the first two games against Green Bay and Sioux Falls.
Now the focus shifts to taking the ball away. After failing to force a turnover through the first two games, rookie cornerback Antoine Johnson intercepted a McCullum pass and flipped the field position with a 39-yard return.
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“They’re coming together great,” McNutt said. “The challenge has been accepted that we’ve got to get the turnovers. Games are won off turnovers a lot of times. … We know we have to step up this weekend and create some turnovers, create some uncomfortable situations.”
Newly-signed linebacker Robert Haynes debuted against Wichita Falls and led the Titans with 12 tackles (1.5 for loss) and a sack. Defensive back Fred Griggs — who played collegiately at William Penn — is tied for third in the IFL with 28 total tackles.
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