Lakers to host Northern Michigan for Homecoming

GVL Archive / Kim Miller
Louie gets GVSU students pumped up for the homecoming game.

GVL Archive / Kim Miller Louie gets GVSU students pumped up for the homecoming game.

Cody Eding

After a successful two-game road trip in which the Grand Valley State University football team outscored its opponents 106-17, the Lakers will return home to face Northern Michigan University on Saturday night for Homecoming.

Lubbers Stadium, where the team has won 28 straight games, has not been so friendly to GVSU so far this season. The Lakers have outscored opponents by only 13 points and needed to come from behind for victories in the first three home games of the season.

When the Wildcats travel to Allendale they will bring with them Carter Kopach, a talented quarterback who can run and pass, and a staunch defense unlike any the Lakers have seen all season. Northern Michigan is coming off a close 26-18 loss to Wayne State University last Saturday and are 3-2 overall (3-1 GLIAC). Their other loss was a season-opening 7-6 decision to Minnesota State University-Mankato, a playoff team from last season that is currently ranked No. 25 in Division II.

“You could make the argument that they are probably four or five plays away from being undefeated,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell. “They scored a touchdown and on the road (against Mankato) decided to go for two and came up short on the two-point conversion.”

The Wildcats have not had success on the road. The team averages 36 points a game at home while only managing 18.3 points away from Marquette.

On offense, Northern Michigan relies almost exclusively on Kopach. The junior signal caller leads the team in passing yards (988), rushing attempts (76), rushing yards (267) and total touchdowns (14).

“He’s a quarterback that obviously is a good runner and can throw the ball pretty well,” said senior free safety Matt Bakker, who had an interception in last week’s 71-10 win over Tiffin University. “We’re going to have to be sound in our assignments. If we have a spy on the quarterback, he’s going to have to make sure he’s in the right position. And in the secondary, if the guy moves around a lot and is not in the packing, we’re going to have to make sure we’re not coming up and jumping out of coverage.”

Kopach’s mobility is similar to that of Laker senior quarterback Kyle McMahon, who is tied for first on GVSU with six rushing touchdowns and third with 222 rushing yards to go along with 1050 yards and nine touchdowns through the air.

“I think it will give our defense a good edge when it comes to this week because we’ve played against each other all spring, obviously,” McMahon said. “So they’ve seen a little bit of the style of quarterback that they’re going to see Saturday, they’ve been able to see him all spring.”

Defensively, the Wildcats run a 3-4, cover-two scheme that Mitchell said is completely different than any other defense the Lakers have prepped for. Junior Matt Forward and sophomore Zach Anderson anchor Northern Michigan’s defensive line. Both linemen weigh in at more than 300 pounds.

“They’ve got big guys inside that try to clog up the middle and not allow you to run up inside,” said Mitchell, whose team is averaging 227 yards per game on the ground.

McMahon said he looked forward to the challenge presented by the size and complexity of Northern Michigan’s defense.

“It’s going to be fun to see what we can do against them,” he said. “They have the guys up front, they’re going to be big. It will be a good test for our offensive line.”

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