GV head football coach Matt Mitchell talks new OC, remote coaching, Judon’s new deal and what shows to binge on Netflix

GVL / Emily Frye   
Coach Matt Mitchell during the game against Ferris State University on Saturday October 21, 2017.

GVL / Emily Frye Coach Matt Mitchell during the game against Ferris State University on Saturday October 21, 2017.

Kellen Voss, Sports Editor

By Kellen Voss ([email protected])

It’s a weird time for sports during the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s an especially weird time for Grand Valley State offensive coordinator Matt Vitzhum, who after being hired a week ago, was only given a few days of spring practice before the NCAA cancelled all athletic activities for the forseeable future.

Despite less than 72 hours going by between Vitzhum’s hiring and the NCAA news, GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell is confident in Vitzhum, who is entering his eighth as a part of Mitchell’s staff.

“We had four in-house candidates who went through a very thorough vetting process,” Mitchell said. “It’s going to be very challenging (for Vitzhum), because we lost half of our padded practices. We’re putting in a completely new offensive system. The formations are new, the protections are new, the routes are new, but we have a new man leading everything who I have 100 percent faith in.”

Football has been the last thing on Mitchell’s mind at the moment, as over the past week, he has told the sad news about the cancellations to players with team meetings, has set up a GroupMe to communicate and keep players’ spirits up, and has helped players who live on campus sort out their living situations.

While most upperclassmen are staying in off-campus apartments for the break, Mitchell has helped all his non-international students get their living situations sorted out.

“There’s not a lot of reasons for them to stay at this point,” Mitchell said. “We understand that it is in their best interest to go home. As of today, our one international student is the only player on campus. Everyone else has either gone home or is staying in their off-campus apartments.”

While the coaching staff is not fully complete with Mitchell planning to announce a new wide receiver’s coach on Thursday, he is confident in his defense’s ability and his players’ ability to stay strong together in what has already been a roller-coaster ride of a semester.

“We have a great defensive culture and no movement on the defensive staff,” Mitchell said. “We need to make sure our players have that sense of urgency, but for us, we’re not focused on game planning right now, we’re focused on establishing a culture before worrying about our scheme.”

Since the firing of former offensive coordinator Morris Berger, Mitchell praised his team for keeping the community strong despite the turmoil.

“When the adversity hit based on Berger’s comment’s with the Lanthorn, I give our players a ton of credit,” Mitchell said. “They definitely banded together. When we got the word of classes being shut down, this group knew that they had already experienced adversity together. They were disappointed because they love playing football. I applaud the character of the guys on our team. They have a ton of resolve.”

On a happier note, Mitchell wanted to credit former GVSU Football star Matthew Judon, who on Monday was franchise tagged by the Baltimore Ravens. That franchise tag prevents Judon from hitting the open market, all but guaranteeing that he’ll play on one of the NFL’s rising defenses next season and be paid more than $16 million.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to speak to him personally, but that’s a huge honor that he should be proud of,” Mitchell said of Judon. “Just having one of your former guys working towards his second contract and is dominating at the professional level is incredible. Judon is an incredible talent, and I will forever be rooting for him.”

Speaking of things Mitchell has been rooting for, when asked for recommendations for Netflix shows to binge with all this newfound free time, Mitchell couldn’t help but express his love for Ozark, and can’t wait for season three to come out on March 27.

“I’m not a big TV guy, but the new season of Ozark is dropping and I can’t wait,” Mitchell said. “That’s a show that I’ve really liked. I’ll be cooped up too and I’ll be watching a lot of film, but I’m probably going to be binging that show.”