MIDWEST CITY — After two years with Stevie Thompson running the show at quarterback, Carl Albert now finds itself with a lot of yardage and leadership to replace on offense.
And until that group finds a rhythm, look for the defense to take the spotlight early in the Titans’ season.
That’s where Carl Albert has its most experienced playmakers. Nine of the expected starters have significant varsity minutes.
The defense is built around the guys in the box, like linebacker Nate Christmon, a starter since his sophomore year. Tyler Banta and Quinton Gentry return on the defensive line as well.
“We need to work together so we can win games and do what we need to do,” Christmon said. “We’re not real deep behind the starters, so we need some underclassmen to step up, but we can be pretty good if we work as a team.”
Marrque Luster has impressed at cornerback, which might allow the Titans’ most dangerous offensive weapon, Dillon Lohr, the chance to rest on defense.
Rose expects to use Lohr, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete, in a variety of roles in the backfield and at receiver.
“Dillon is dangerous with the ball in his hands,” Rose said. “With him being able to line up in the backfield, or motion out, or line up out wide, that put the defense in a bind.
Mike Mitchell and R.T. Sherman have stepped in as potential running backs, allowing Kadell Nguyen to be utilized as a slot receiver.
A lot of eyes will be on new quarterback Braxton Dickerson, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder. He has looked solid throughout camp, but Rose knows the real test comes when the games begin.
“When the loud noises start, that’s when we find out what guys can do,” Rose said. “Braxton has lots of ability, so I foresee him being really good. The question is when. Week 5? Week 9? Next year?
“If the offense can start clicking by Week 5 or 6, we’ll be in business.”