Spokane’s ever-changing quarterback picture has kept coaches, equipment managers and travel agencies busy.
Carson Coffman, who emerged from training camp as the starter, went down with a knee injury in the season opener against Arizona. Jarrett Brown filled in but he was benched in the third quarter of the Week 2 game against Philadelphia.
Matt Bassuener entered but the offense continued to sputter. Brown and Bassuener took a seat in Week 3 as Danny Southwick directed the offense in a loss at Portland. That’s four different quarterbacks and three losses. Spokane scored just 43 points in each game, subpar by Arena Football League standards.
Where does Spokane (0-3) turn for Saturday’s home game against Orlando (3-1)? Perhaps back where it started.
Coffman and Warren Smith, who earned the backup job but suffered a knee injury late in training camp, handled the snaps at Tuesday’s practice.
“We got a couple guys back,” head coach Andy Olson said. “We’re kind of back to where we were with that first game (out) of camp. We need to get the timing down, but I’m very happy with what I’ve seen and I expect to play better on Saturday.”
Coffman was 11 of 21 with three touchdowns before suffering an MCL injury in the second quarter of the opener. He spent last week’s bye rehabbing at a Portland clinic operated by former Kansas State teammate and NFL tight end Jeron Mastrud.
Coffman was hooked up to an ARPwave machine, which, he said, “just speeds up the recovery. It’s really intense.”
“I’m good to go,” said Coffman, who wore a brace on his right knee during practice. “I was out Monday just throwing routes and dropping back. (Tuesday) was the first time with live action and having to move around in the pocket.
“I felt good. We’ll see what coach decides.”
Smith, who played two seasons in the Professional Indoor Football League, has yet to take a snap in an AFL game but Olson has spoken highly of the University of Maine product.
Coming off a rough start and the bye week, the Shock are “really trying to wipe the slate clean,” Olson said. “We’re 0-0 and we’re going for 1-0 this weekend.”
The bye week “couldn’t have come at a better time with the injuries and just to clear our minds,” he added. “We got into a rut with the ups and downs of quarterback play. We’ve never had three different quarterbacks in three games. I think we’re bouncing back and our guys are excited about Coffman and Warren being ready to go.”
Orlando has a number of former Shock players, including center Ryan Cave, defensive back Paul Stephens, defensive lineman Jeremy Geathers, receiver Brandon Thompkins and linebackers Terence Moore and Aaron Robbins.
“I’m going against (Cave) the whole time, it should be fun,” nose guard Terrance Taylor said. “We practiced together for a long time. It’s going to be intense. There’s going to be a lot of talking, there’s going to be a lot of action.”
The Predators’ most familiar name is second-year head coach Rob Keefe, who played on Spokane’s 2006 af2 championship team, assisted on the 2009 af2 title team and was head coach on the 2010 AFL champions. Keefe hired Olson as offensive coordinator three weeks into the 2011 season. Keefe’s contract wasn’t renewed following the season.
Keefe led the Predators to an 11-7 record last season and their first division title since 2006.
“It hasn’t been addressed,” Olson said. “There’s no need to bring attention to something that doesn’t matter. It’s part of the game. Nobody likes not being brought back or being released or traded. At some point, I’m probably going to coach 50 percent (of the players) in this league.”