CEDAR RAPIDS — The 2017 edition of the Cedar Rapids Titans lists no players or coaches from last year’s playoff win.
Given the significant roster upheaval, first-year Coach Marvin McNutt has been tasked with quickly constructing the new faces into a productive unit.
Following last week’s 46-13 blowout loss to Green Bay in the season opener, McNutt and the Titans seek marked improvement in time for a visit from the six-time defending Indoor Football League champions.
“We do have a long ways to go, but I think this week we will see a great stride to where we are heading,” said McNutt, who will lead the Titans against the Sioux Falls Storm (1-0) Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. “I did like the effort the guys put out there. Even when guys made a few mistakes, they tried to make them fast. … For the most part, guys came out and tried to win every single down.”
Former Northern Iowa quarterback Brion Carnes will start his first game for Cedar Rapids (0-1). Carnes signed with the Titans on Feb. 13 and tallied 1,266 passing yards and 32 total touchdowns in 13 career IFL games with Nebraska and Iowa from 2015-16.
“I just want to be able to continue to build and grow within this playbook and this offense and just do whatever I can and help get the team a win,” Carnes said. “Now that I have my opportunity, it’s time for me to take that big step and be that up-next veteran to help the younger guys grow into the game.”
Carnes directed one touchdown drive and passed for 54 yards with an interception off the bench against Green Bay. He replaces Cory Murphy, who totaled 151 yards passing and two TDs with two INTs between the exhibition game and season opener. Murphy was released on Tuesday in order to return home following a family medical emergency. Rookie James Harris (78 yards passing, two TDs, two INTs in exhibition) was re-signed to back up Carnes.
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“I like that he is cool, calm and collected in there,” McNutt said of Carnes. “He’s been in this league for a little bit. He knows a lot of the guys that he’s playing against; knows a lot of defenses.”
A 26-year-old Florida native, Carnes started his collegiate career at Nebraska before transferring to UNI. From 2013-14, Carnes completed an education degree and passed for 1,620 yards, ran for 540 and totaled 14 TDs in 24 games for a Panthers’ football team that included current NFL star David Johnson.
“It’s great to just be back in Iowa,” Carnes said. “I feel like Cedar Rapids is a great spot for me to come in and actually begin my growth into this league and put a name out there. Make a name not only for myself, but the organization I’m representing as well.”
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