C.R. Titans working on timing as season gets rolling

Quarterbacks in a "wide-open" race for the starting job after opening loss

Cedar Rapids Titans quarterback Spencer Ohm passes the ball during the Titans' exhibition against the Bemidji Axemen on Feb. 15. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Titans quarterback Spencer Ohm passes the ball during the Titans' exhibition against the Bemidji Axemen on Feb. 15. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Timing is everything in football.

That’s especially true for the indoor game, where receivers are allowed to run to the line as the ball is snapped, and face crashing into walls upon catching passes.

As the IFL season kicks into gear and the Green Bay Blizzard come into the U.S. Cellular Center on Saturday night,  the Cedar Rapids Titans are still a work in progress in developing that part of their game.

“There’s some timing stuff on offense that still needs to come together a little bit,” said Spencer Ohm, who started the Titans’ season opener at the Texas Revolution, a 47-38 loss. “It’s mostly been timing (we’ve worked on in practice), because it’s a bunch of new faces on offense. That’s really what’s been hurting us on offense so far this season.

“We have a great offensive plan, Coach (Mark) Stoute’s got a great scheme on offense, and as long as we heed his corrections and correct our mistakes, we’ll be great.”

Stoute agreed with his quarterback after practice on Wednesday, saying his team still isn’t where he wants it to be offensively.

The Titans’ defense — which has been the hallmark for the franchise while it’s been in Cedar Rapids — played well, Stoute said, which makes the corrections at least slightly easier following a loss.

“We made a lot of mental errors offensively (against Texas),” Stoute said. “We gave up a kickoff return on special teams, we gave up a pick for a touchdown and we fumbled the ball five times. So we need to eliminate that offensively.

“Defensively, we need to continue to get better and enhance what we’ve done.”

The errors leave Stoute frustrated, if only because he knows what the offense is capable of when run correctly and efficiently

And at this point, with what he’s seen so far, the quarterback race is officially open here in Cedar Rapids. Ohm was just 9 of 20 for 97 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions, while backup Dante Perez was 4 of 9 for 67 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

“Right now, for me, it’s a wide-open competition for quarterback,” Stoute said. “Neither quarterback has separated (himself). I need one of them to have separated and become the guy. Spencer threw a couple of picks (against Texas), Perez came in the game and made a couple mistakes on a turnover — a fumble. So neither has really separated, and I’m looking for one of them to make the move to take the reins of the team.”

So while Stoute evaluates his quarterbacks and hopes one emerges as a field general, that all-important timing factor is a barometer he’ll use.

If the offensive timing is better, his quarterbacks will have more of a chance to show what they have, and the next test awaits them in their regular-season home opener Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.

“One of the things we worked on in the bye week was not so much banging bodies, but working on our timing, our reads, our throws” Stoute said. “Timing from the point of even motion — How deep are we getting? When are we hitting the line of scrimmage? — that kind of stuff, which puts the quarterbacks a lot more at ease.”

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