Football looks to continue to grow at Spring Game

Bryce Derouin

After missing the playoffs the last two seasons, the Grand Valley State University football team hopes to break that trend in 2013.

With their season opener against Azusa Pacific University still 149 days away, GVSU continues to use the spring practices as a way for the players to acclimate themselves with the coaches and system.

This Saturday will be the first time to see the 2013 version of the GVSU squad in action, as the the Spring Game will be hosted at Lubbers Stadium at noon.

However, you won’t see some key players this weekend that will be playing key roles for GVSU this fall.
“I could list ten players that I think will be playing with us in the fall that aren’t with us right now,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “It’s been challenging because we have a lot of new faces out there. Specifically at the offensive line position and the wide receiver position and add in the fact that we have a completely new coaching staff on offense.”

After spending three years as GVSU’s offensive line coach, Tim Morrison is now the offensive coordinator and will retain offensive line duties. Matt Vitzhum was hired as the new running backs coach after Eddie Brown left to become the defensive back coach for the Toronto Argonauts, and Bill Brechin comes from the University of Notre Dame to become the wide receiver coach.

“It’s been a lot more meetings,” Mitchell said. “It’s been fun though. We’ve really as coaches, enjoyed working with this group of guys.

We got a new guy calling the plays, so you can see and feel that even though it’s still a Grand Valley State offense and we do what we do, it’s different. There’s some differences because we have some outside coaches who brought in some new ideas too, so we’ve been incorporating some ideas and all the players and those guys are getting to know each other and those relationships are growing, so a lot of new things are occurring.”

Don’t plan on the offense and defense to take part in a full scrimmage this Saturday. With the team still going through transitions, the Lakers are looking to use this time to improve in many different facets.

“Saturday is gonna be more like a practice than a game,” Mitchell said. “We need that. That’s what our football team needs right now. We need to go out and have another practice and keep working on things. We’re gonna go out there and play 11-on-11 football and keep working on things that we’re gonna do on both sides of the ball.”

While the coaches and players are still treating it as a practice, the players are still looking forward to going live in front of an audience.

“It should be fun,” said senior linebacker Sam Power. “A couple practices we’ve been able to go live at the end. This Saturday we’re gonna treat it more as a practice, but we’ll be able to go live at the end, so it should be fun.”

With key players not taking part in the scrimmage and spring practices, it has let Mitchell evaluate talent up and down his roster. This Saturday will continue to serve as a chance for the coaching staff to get a solid look at the entire team.

“Having some of those proven playmakers like a Matt Armstrong not there – Jamie Potts made a lot of plays as a redshirt freshman and not having Luther Ware here, one of our best linebackers. I actually think it might be an advantage because it has forced a lot of guys to get more repetitions and do a lot more things and has helped with their growth process. I look at all those guys being gone as a positive cause we’ve made some strides here.”

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