Three point stance: GVSU football vs Ohio Dominican

The Lakers will look to win in their second consecutive trip to Ohio

By Beau Troutman | 9/28/16 11:13pm

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GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Sydney Omameh (3) and company bring down a Wildcat running back. The Lakers defeat the Wildcats of Northern Michigan with a final score of 50-24 on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016 in Allendale.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Grand Valley State football (4-0) traveled to Ohio last week for their first road game against Walsh, and came back to Allendale with a win.

The Lakers will hope to do the same this weekend when they take on the Ohio Dominican Panthers in Columbus, Ohio at noon Saturday, Oct. 1.

The way the season has been going, there’s a good chance the Lakers will be 5-0 on the bus ride back to Allendale.

One: Sticking to the routine

The Panthers (2-2) have had an up-and-down season thus far. They rank No. 11 (out of 14) in total offensive yardage this season. Their two losses came in the form of a 41-0 thrashing from Ferris State and a 17-10 loss to Michigan Tech.

“Fortunately, I’m glad this isn’t our first road game,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell. “(The) guys got a sense of the schedule and the road, and it’s nice that Canton is about five and half hour away and Columbus is five and half hours away. We’re going to 100 percent mirror our departure time, our walkthrough time, our meeting times. It will be a carbon copy of Friday and Saturday last week.

Despite promoting former defensive coordinator Kelly Cummings to head coach this past year, Mitchell says he “hasn’t seen a whole lot of differences on tape” from the Panthers. The Lakers defeated the Panthers 27-24 on the road last season.

Among the 14 GLIAC teams, the Panthers rank 11th in offensive yardage per game (320.5), 10th in points-per-game (20), ninth in points allowed per game (26.5) and 11th in yards allowed per game (391.5). By comparison, GVSU ranks first in all of those categories.

The Panthers are led by junior quarterback Grant Russell. Russell has 801 yards passing, five passing touchdowns, three interceptions and a 61 percent completion percentage. Mitchell noted Russell has some mobility as well, which the defense will be watching out for this Saturday.

The Panther offense will likely call on Russell’s number more than usual. The team struggles to run the ball consistently, and is going up against GVSU’s No. 1-ranked rushing defense in the GLIAC (84.5 rushing yards allowed per game). The Panthers don’t have a single rusher over 200 yards on the season, and none of their top three rushers average more than 40 yards rushing per game.

GVSU should have no trouble with the Panthers, road game or not. Mitchell said once the ball is snapped, it doesn’t matter—at the end of the day, it’s still football, home or away. The Panthers will have to come up with a way to contain the GVSU offense that averages 47 points-per-game, 27 points higher than the Panthers’.

Moreover, the GVSU defense, which is holding opponents to 9.5 points-per-game, is coming off its first shutout by a Laker defense since 2012. They’ll look to do the same against a shaky Panther offense.

Quarterback Bart Williams (922 yards, 10 touchdowns), despite throwing his first two interceptions of the season against Walsh last week, will lead a GVSU offense that features two-time GLIAC Player of the Week Martayveus Carter (602 yards, six touchdowns) and potentially the best top-to-bottom receiving corps in the GLIAC, including Nick Dodson, who is coming off his best game statistically against Walsh (four catches, 99 yards, one touchdown).

“We just need to focus on us, really,” Dodson said. “Road game, it’s always hard to get good wins. We’re playing against a good program, I think we just have to play Grand Valley football and we’ll come out on top.”

Prediction: GVSU 44, ODU 7.

Two: Déjà vu for Omameh

The last time GVSU graduate transfer senior defensive end Sydney Omameh (3.5 sacks) was at Ohio Dominican, he was playing for them. Omameh spent four years with the Panthers, but left after the coach who recruited him was replaced.

Omameh said it will undoubtedly be strange playing in a stadium that once cheered him on, but he’s just trying to approach it like any other game.

“I’m excited for every game,” Omameh said. “It’s a little different playing against people I’ve competed with for some years now. We prepare for every single team the same way, so I’m just going to continue my pregame routine and everything the same, try to have the same mentality I do every other game.”

Three: Walton stays sidelined

Starting cornerback Tre Walton will miss his second consecutive game this week after missing last week’s game against Walsh, and is considered day-to-day.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Kalen Dunham took his place, and filled in admirably. Dunham notched an interception, a tackle for loss and earned another week as the team’s No. 2 corner behind sophomore Devin McKissic.

The starting corners will have to on top of their game this Saturday, as the Panthers have two receivers that account for more than 60 percent of their receiving game. The Panthers’ sophomores Cory Contini and Dar Stanford have combined for 50 catches, 582 yards and three touchdowns.

Mitchell said Dunham, as well as sophomore corner Jacob Studdard, have earned the right to play this season.

“They’re on scholarship, they’ve got to step up and have got to make plays,” Mitchell said. “Luckily with McKissic and Studdard, you’re talking about two kids that have played last year and this year.

“Kalen, through the first four games, has earned the right to go out there and be tested.”

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