Ohio travels continue for Lakers

Ohio travels continue for Lakers

Cody Eding

Grand Valley State University head coach Matt Mitchell has one thing on his mind heading into week five of the season: progress.

Whether it be on offense, defense or special teams, Mitchell said his goal for the top-ranked Lakers is to improve from game-to-game, something his team did in last week’s 35-7 win against the University of Findlay.

“We made improvements from (games) two to three, we made improvements from three to four in all three phases,” Mitchell said. “We have to continue to make improvements from four to five as we start facing the meat of our schedule.”

GVSU (4-0, 3-0 GLIAC) will look to continue its improvement when the team travels to Ohio for the second-straight week Saturday to face Tiffin University. The Dragons are 1-3 overall and sit at the bottom of the GLIAC with an 0-3 conference record after losing to Ferris State University 52-28 last Saturday.

“They got their opening win against Malone University and then, since they’ve entered GLIAC play, they’ve struggled a little bit on both sides of the ball,” Mitchell said.

Like Findlay, Tiffin is lead by a true freshman quarterback. Jason Young made his first career start last week against Ferris State and impressed by throwing for four touchdowns.

“It’s a learning process for all freshman coming to college,” said senior free safety Matt Bakker, who had an interception Saturday’s victory. “We are definitely going to try to put the game in his hands, you know, and hopefully make some plays in the secondary and get him into some bad situations.”

Mitchell said Tiffin’s youth extends beyond its quarterback.

“They’re just very young,” he said. “They’re starting some freshman up front (on the offensive line) and they’ve just had some trouble with protection and being able to consistently run the ball.”

The challenge for the GVSU offense will be to overcome an aggressive defensive game plan by the Dragons. Tiffin freshman linebacker Kody David has tallied three sacks this season and the team has totaled eight sacks and four interceptions.

“They’re going to blitz a lot and play a lot of man,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got be able to throw and catch against man coverage. We’re not going to run (against the blitz).

“This could be interesting,” he continued. “If we make some plays out on the perimeter, we could have some big chunk plays. And, if we don’t, we could stall a little bit on the offensive side of the ball.”

Neasman being utilized in multiple roles

Backup quarterback Marquel Neasman has been doing much more than just providing insurance should starter Kyle McMahon go down.

The Lakers have used Neasman in a variety of roles on offense and special teams since he lost the quarterback battle to McMahon before the season.

“Were trying to get him involved. He’s been a part of our program, and he’s a senior and is a leader,” Mitchell said. “He’s a good athlete, so we’re just trying to get him involved in some special teams.”

Against Findlay, Neasman saw action as quarterback and also as a member of GVSU’s punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return teams. At one point, the senior threw a pass on one play and then assisted on a special teams tackle the following play.

“You had to hear the coaches on the sideline: ‘Marquel! You’re in, hurry!’,” said Neasman, who has also worked at wide receiver in practice. “I was like, ‘Oh, my bad coach.’ I’m used to getting off from offense and going to the bench and sitting down. It was different.”

Mitchell said Neasman’s athleticism allows the team to get more value out of his roster spot.

“If he can help us in some of those areas, then we are a better football team because he’s always going to travel as the backup quarterback,” he said. “If he can help do something more than that, that’s one of our 55 spots that’s contributing more than just sitting on the bench.”

[email protected]



Tiffin University

Nickname: Dragons

Location: Tiffin, Ohio

Enrollment: 3,422

Head Coach: Dave Walkosky, 2nd Season (2-13)

AFCA Ranking: Unranked

Last Week: 52-28 Loss at Ferris State


Hersey Jackson, Running back

The redshirt freshman reserve saw his first significant playing time of the season against Findlay and should see more against Tiffin.

Jason Young, Quarterback

Young, a true freshman, completed 21-of-41 passes and tossed four touchdowns in his first career start last week.