Three point stance: GVSU football after week one
GVSU needs work on the offensive line, is set on defense and ready for Lake Erie
Grand Valley State dismantled Tiffin and its quarterback Antonio Pipkin 45-7 in the opening game of the season Sept. 1. The Lakers showed they have depth at virtually every position, and GVSU’s status at the early season favorite in the GIAC was only solidified after taking down a worthy conference opponent. Heading into week two, a couple things stand out.
One: Offensive line the lone question mark
The only position with any question marks after week one is the offensive line. The Lakers went with the starting five of Ben Walling (tackle), Dan DeLuca (guard), Aaron Cox (center), Evan Schriner (guard) and Scott Koenigscknecht (tackle). Linemen Nathan Brady, Derek Sparkman, Josh Dentler and Nick Fish are all still in the mix for playing time, and a few saw time against Tiffin.
The line is considered an ongoing project for the Lakers, and so far the only players with a firm grasp on their position are seniors Cox and Walling at the left tackle spot. Beyond that, the Laker line is still trying to find itself. Quarterback Bart Williams was sacked three times by the Tiffin defense.
“Bart (Williams) was on the ground way too much (against Tiffin),” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell after the season opener. “Way too much. He was on his back, and we’ve got to do better up front, but this is kind of what I though was gonna happen. We have got to protect our quarterback better.”
On the flip side, Mitchell was very impressed with the run blocking against the Dragons. The Lakers racked up 277 total rushing yards on the ground despite starting running back Martayveus Carter only seeing limited time due to stomach issues. Relief back Terrell Dorsey led the team with 100 yards on 15 carries, and had no problem finding holes.
“I think the big difference in a year is our run game,” Mitchell said. “Our run game is a lot better this year than it was last year.”
Two: Defense improved over last year
GVSU lost its one-man wrecking crew in defensive end Matt Judon, but the defense has actually shown improvement over last year. The defense returned 10 of 11 starters from the 2015 squad, and it shows. This defense’s experience has led to vast improvements across the board.
The defensive secondary was considered young last year—and still is—but with all of their combined experience, this is one of the stronger units in the GLIAC. Starting defensive backs Tre Walton and Devin McKissic had a nice outing, and Mitchell was impressed with freshman Kalen Dunham and sophomore Jacob Studdard. Tiffin’s Pipkin managed 460 yards through the air against GVSU last year. Last week, he only totaled 131 yards.
Senior David Talley’s interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter all but sealed the win against the Dragons. The play not only represented dominance against Tiffin, but the team’s ability to rely on the defense as a whole this season.
“I wasn’t surprised by our defensive performance,” Mitchell said.
Three: On to Lake Erie
The Lakers play the Lake Erie Storm under the lights again at Lubbers Stadium Sept. 10. The Storm lost in overtime 38-35 to Northern Michigan at home in their week one matchup. The Storm were a meager 2-for-15 on third down conversions, had 398 yards of offense and allowed 410 yards on defense.
While Storm quarterback John Banyasz struggled to throw the ball, running back Desmon Turner picked up 114 yards rushing with two touchdowns and Banyasz added 108 yards with two scores. The offensive line will need to be at their best—the storm defense totaled five sacks against NMU.
Last season, the Lakers beat the Storm 65-23 on the road, and if they play anything like they did against Tiffin, then there’s a strong chance for a 2-0 start to the season.
Prediction: GVSU 51, Lake Erie 10.