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Sports >  Spokane Shock

Shock notes: Quarterback merry-go-round returns

Spokane has been here before – prior to its second, third, fourth, sixth and 12th games, to be exact. Who starts at quarterback? The question returned to the top of the Shock’s to-do list after Carson Coffman suffered a separated right (throwing) shoulder in a June 26th loss to San Jose. Coffman had surgery and his arm is in a sling. Coffman was replaced by Arvell Nelson, who struggled against the Arena Football League’s top-ranked defense in his first playing time at quarterback since the 2013 season. The other option is rookie Warren Smith, who piloted Spokane to a 2-4 mark before losing the job to Coffman last month. “As of (Wednesday) there’s no clear guy but they’re battling,” coach Andy Olson said. “I like them both, I like both of their potential. Obviously I know Warren a lot better. I like Arvell’s skill set. We’ll definitely have a decision by Friday.” Four different players have started at quarterback, including Danny Southwick, who is the presumed starter for Los Angeles, which entertains Spokane on Sunday. Due to injuries and subpar performance, six have taken snaps for the Shock. Smith has a decided edge in experience with six games as the starter. He’s completed nearly 66 percent of his attempts for 32 touchdowns. The down side is nine interceptions and three up-for-grab games Spokane wasn’t able to dig out in the fourth quarter. Nelson posted strong stats in limited minutes behind Erik Meyer in 2013. He was working in a Cleveland salt mine before joining the Shock in mid June. He was 9 of 17 with one touchdown and one interception against the SaberCats. “Getting games under your belt, getting experience is huge, especially in this league at quarterback when the game is so fast,” Smith said. “A lot of success and learning experiences, ups and downs. All you can do is learn from it and correct the mistakes.” Smith said that entails cleaning up his footwork and delivering in crunch time. “Helping out my offensive line because sometimes I drifted a little bit and put more stress on my outside linemen,” Smith said. “And really just working in clutch moments. It’s hard to work on that in practice so we have to create a situation where hey, it’s fourth down or there’s a minute left and we have to run the clock down and score.”
Break time
The Shock (4-9) and Kiss (2-11) are coming off a much-needed bye week. Spokane has dropped four of its last five. L.A. handed San Jose its only loss, then dropped close games to Philadelphia and Arizona, two of the AFL’s top-three ranked teams. “It was really nice to be able to rest the body,” defensive lineman Terrance Taylor said. “It’s good to have us refocus on what we want this season, what direction we’re going and things we have to do to be in the playoffs.” Some players squeezed in trips home while others remained in Spokane and worked out. James Ruffin stayed busy with his job working with kids in Coeur d’Alene. Smith went back to New Jersey and helped the high school team he serves as an assistant coach for during the offseason. “It’s good to get away and get refreshed,” Smith said. “How many teams can say they’re 4-9 and still be in the playoff hunt? My high school team last year, we were 1-6 and it was all about power points and in our last game we still had a chance (for the playoffs). Five months later, I’m in the same situation. We have to grasp the opportunity and make the most of it.”
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