Lakers look to contain big plays versus Michigan Tech
The idea of the process versus the product was one of the main ingredients of discussion following the Grand Valley State University football team’s 46-41 victory over Ohio Dominican University last week.
The offensive product, 39 points scored by the GVSU offense and a game-winning touchdown with 1:16 remaining, was the good. But that process, being held to just six points in the fourth quarter, was just enough to hold off Ohio Dominican.
As head coach Matt Mitchell said this week, the defensive product wasn’t good, but the process is still getting better — despite the fact that Ohio Dominican piled up 260 yards on just five plays.
With a trip to Michigan Technological University on tap this weekend, the goal of the entire team is to continue that improvement.
“We’re getting better, I think we’re closer, but obviously there’s some big plays that kind of cost us,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got a tough challenge coming up here, heading up to Michigan Tech, they’ve been playing some good football and I’m very impressed with Tyler Scarlett.”
The team has seen improvements on both sides of the ball in recent games, but they’ll need to continue that improvement against the Scarlett-led Michigan Tech offense.
Last season’s GLIAC Freshman of the Year, Scarlett leads an offense that isn’t going to beat you with big plays, but rather, one that will wear you down with their running game.
Through three games, the Huskies are running the ball just over 50 times a game, and through three games the biggest weakness of the GVSU defense has been keeping running backs from breaking long runs.
“It comes down to the whole defense, we all gotta make plays,” said junior corner back Reggie Williams, who was named the GLIAC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time this season. “As far as me, I’m kind of a vocal guy on our defense and some of the guys look to me to make plays and be vocal. It’s important for all of us to come out and make plays week in and week out.”
Williams, who forced two turnovers in last week’s game, has led the defensive charge for GVSU. That defense will be playing this week with some new faces. Sophomore defensive end Matt Judon will miss the contest with a knee injury, and junior Denzel Rodgers will step in on the left side of the line.
Rodgers has been GVSU’s most consistent pass rusher this season with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries, and will be part of the effort trying to force Scarlett into bad plays.
“(Scarlett) is throwing the ball well, you can tell he’s a lot more confidence in their scheme,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think there’s any question, this is going to be the most balanced and best offense we’ve faced to date, top to bottom.”
For all the struggles the defense has seen this season, sophomore quarterback Isiah Grimes and the offense will have a new speed bump this week. The Lakers lost starting running back Chris Robinson to a season-ending ACL tear last week, so the once-deep position is now left with sophomore Michael Ratay and freshman Kirk Spencer as guys who have seen significant playing time this season.
“I think we have to establish the run early, get them running, get them on their heels a little bit and try to keep them off Isiah (Grimes),” said senior guard Tim Lelito. “At the same time, we have to be very physical up front. They’re a physical team up front, and we have to be just as physical, if not more physical, as they are.”
GVSU will look for their first GLIAC North victory of the season on Saturday in Houghton, Mich. Fans can hear the action on ESPN 96.1 FM.