Rush looks for turnaround vs. Iowa
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The Rush will try to get back to its winning ways against the Iowa Barnstormers on Sunday at the Allstate Arena after losing starting quarterback Russ Michna to an ankle injury last weekend.
While Michna was placed on the injured reserve list and will be out for at least four weeks, the Rush (9-4) will make a game-time decision on Sunday's starter.
Rookie quarterback Dominic Randolph has been with the Rush all season, and AFL veteran JJ Raterink was signed Sunday. Raterink played for the Rush last year but spent this season with the Kansas City Command.
"We've got two guys competing, and right now we don't know which one is going to start," coach Bob McMillen this week.
Randolph hasn't had many practice reps this season, and Raterink needs time to pick up the new offense, McMillen said.
Randolph took over for Michna in the second half of last weekend's 63-60 loss to the Spokane Shock. He completed 11 of his 17 passes, throwing for 113 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The team faced a 22-point deficit late in the game and was unable to overcome it despite a strong fourth quarter.
"We lost to a good football team, but it also is that we beat ourselves. We can't continue to make mental mistakes out there," McMillen said.
Turnovers have hurt the team all season and were a big factor in last week's loss. Their 32 turnovers in 14 games is among the most in the league.
"It's unacceptable," McMillen said. "To be a good football team, you've got to be able to protect the football."
Defensive back Vic Hall said the team is determined to overcome the Shock loss.
"We feel like we should have won," he said. "We didn't play as well as we wanted to. We left a lot of opportunities on the field."
McMillen and Hall agree defense is the team's strength. Two interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries were key in the near-comeback in Spokane, Hall said.
This weekend marks the second matchup between the Rush and the Barnstormers, easing preparation for the game.
"We know what they're going to do, they know what we're going to do, so now it's all about who is going to be more competitive," Hall said.
Despite its league-worst 3-10 record, Iowa has played close games, including a 1-point loss to the Rush after a last-second field goal.
"They've got two dynamite receivers in No. 22 Jesse Schmidt and No. 1 Todd Blythe … We've got to slow those guys down to be successful," McMillen said.
As the playoffs loom, McMillen said the team must focus on finishing strong.
"We need to get better each week to get ready for that playoff. … If you're not playing well at the end of the season, you're not going to be there."
"The goal for the team is just to play our best football for the rest of the season," he said.
Despite the quarterback issues, McMillen knows his team can play better.
"Our biggest challenge is we've got to stop beating ourselves," McMillen said. "It's mental mistakes here and there during critical parts of the games that cost us."
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