After a tumultuous offseason that threatened to shutter the doors of Chicago's Arena Football League entry, the Rush were eager to play their season-opener Saturday night against the Iowa Barnstormers at Allstate Arena.
But Iowa jumped out to a 39-21 halftime lead as wide receiver Darius Reynolds scored three of his four touchdowns on the night, and the Barnstormers rolled on for a 63-41 victory.
"Week one, we expected to make some mistakes; we didn't expect to make that many mistakes," Rush coach Bob McMillen said. "I thought whoever came out and made more mistakes was going to lose, and obviously it was us."
Under new ownership (David Staral), the Rush entered this season with the theme "redemption" after missing the AFL playoffs for the first time in franchise history last year.
"It was a trying offseason for the people who run the office, but that is no excuse, though," McMillen said. "I thought we put together a good football team. I still believe we have a really good football team."
While several new faces dotted the 2013 roster, including Coffman, there also were several familiar returning players such as Kelvin Morris, Gray, Derek Walker, J.J. Payne, Vic Hall, Jorrick Calvin and Semaj Moody.
Coffman completed 23 of 38 passes for 225 yards and six touchdowns. Former Rush quarterback J.J. Raterink completed 22 of 30 for 257 yards and seven touchdowns for Iowa.
"It was frustrating to see how good of a team we have and not be able to do what we had to do," Gray said. "At the quarterback position we're young. The guy is doing a great job. We just have to gel together."
Rodney Wright caught a pair of touchdown passes for the Rush, who are host to Spokane next Sunday.
The Rush finished last season with a 10-8 record. Iowa, led by former Rush coach Mike Hohensee, finished 7-11 in 2012. The Rush had won their previous four season-openers and are 9-3 all-time in home-openers. Last season the Rush won both games against the Barnstormers.