Gvsu Spring Break 2023 – Grand Valley State players take the field during the college football game between Ferris State and Grand Valley State in Allendale on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (Annie Barker | ) Annie Barker | abarker@
ALLENDALE – The Grand Valley State University football team held its annual media day Monday from Lubbers Stadium in Allendale, and several players and coaches took time to answer questions about the upcoming 2022 season for the No. 4 in Division II.
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Let’s take a look at what we learned from the event based on comments and quotes from head coach Matt Mitchell, junior quarterback Cade Peterson and junior linebacker Abe Swanson.
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Grand Valley State returns 18 starters from last year’s team that went 10-2 overall, 6-1 in the GLIAC and reached the second round of the Division II playoffs. Junior quarterback Cade Peterson returns to lead the offense after throwing for 2, 130 yards and 26 touchdowns and added 559 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
The Laker defense also returns key players such as junior linebacker Abe Swanson, who had a team-high 104 total tackles, including three sacks, one interception, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Junior defensive end Colton Hyble also returns to the team after recording 10 quarterback sacks last season.
“We’ve always had a sharp edge and we have a lot of returners on both sides of the ball this year, especially in the trenches,” Grand Valley State coach Matt Mitchell said. “It created a lot of good battles between our 15 spring practices and 15 days of fall camp. You have to win up front to be successful in this conference, and that starts with getting bodies in the game. We feel like we’ve mastered those traits offensively and defensively, and we expect both teams to set the tone for us.”
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The team’s depth has resulted in some competitive practices and scrimmages and should ultimately result in two deep rotations playing at the Division II level this season.
“There’s a lot of depth at every position and there’s a lot of guys that go out and play games and prove themselves to the coaches,” Peterson said. “There are a lot of people that I feel I can trust with the ball if a mistake happens and there’s nothing wrong with the first or second string. It’s good to know that no matter what happens, you’re going to have guys who can make plays.”
Grand Valley State University quarterback Cade Peterson caught two passes and ran for 56 yards in the Lakers’ 14-9 win over Michigan Tech on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Allendale, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Andy Visockis)
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In his first full season as the Lakers’ starting point guard, Peterson displayed the power that made him the clear choice for the job heading into the 2021 season. The dual-threat forward enters 2022 with plenty of confidence as he takes on more responsibility as a veteran offensive leader.
“I think he’s starting to pick up the skill of quarterbacking in terms of our philosophy of offense, not just the play we run,” Mitchell said of his quarterback. “He knows what everyone on the field is doing, what the floor is, what the distance is, how much time is left on the clock and he carries all this information, processes it and fights with it faster than ever. He’s been really calm in the pocket so far this camp and he’s been impressed with the way he’s been able to catch you and what our defense has thrown at him in practice. We are pleased with his ability in this position.”
Another reason for Peterson’s confidence heading into the 2022 season is the continuity of offensive coordinator Matt Vitzthum, who is entering his second year as the team’s OC and eighth as the running backs coach.
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“I think having the same coordinator and quarterback coach two years in a row helped him,” Mitchell added. “He’s familiar with those guys and I think that relationship was beneficial for him growing up.”
Grand Valley State’s defense held opponents to an average of 18 points per game in 2021, and with most of the team’s key blockers back on the court, the Lakers should once again be strong on that side of the ball.
“Our strength every year is our defense,” Swanson said. “Our defense can be very strong, but I think our man-to-man defense will be very good. Our defensive backs can make plays, shut people down and really frustrate the opposing offense. We know that if we do our job, we have a chance to achieve all our goals as a team.”
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Swanson has also become a strong presence among his teammates after leading the team in tackles last year as a redshirt sophomore.
“This is my third year of qualification and it has helped me become a singer,” he said. “As a sophomore, it was really hard to have a voice, so I’ve really embraced that role this year and I’m ready to help my team win no matter what.”
Grand Valley State coaches recognized Swanson’s commitment to the program and ability to lead by example.
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“He’s absolutely killing it,” Swanson said. “He was an all-conference player last year as a sophomore and was probably one of the best linebackers in our conference. He has continued to grow and show up at work every day, and now he has taken on that leadership role as well. He’s one of those guys that could retire or get hurt in practice or in the gym because that’s where 100 percent is put in.
“At the same time, his hunger to go big is contagious and it forces his teammates to live up to the standard he sets every day. He’s a great football player and he loves the game and he’s just an amazing person. We have a lot of confidence in our defense this season and that starts with having a guy like Abe in the midfield.”
Grand Valley State should have several players ready for bigger roles on offense after the departure of Hunter Rison. Sophomores Cody Tierney (411 yards and two TDs in 2021) and Jacob Miller (349 yards and five TDs in 2021) will lead the team in receiving this season, while Daevon Anderson (-165 yards in 2021) will also be in the middle. combination of playing time. There are a few names being pushed into the two wide receiver rotations early in camp, however, as both Mitchell and Peterson have impressed with some of the underclassmen.
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“Another guy that has stood out lately is Darrell Johnson,” Peterson said. “He had a good camp. He’s very young, but he’s been here for a couple of years and he’s really worked on his game.”
“We also have a redshirt freshman receiver named Jahdae Walker from Cleveland who is a 6-foot-4 guy who can stretch the defense,” Mitchell added. “He’s a guy who really stepped up in the first few weeks of practice.”
The Lakers will also need to replace the production of guards Allante Leapheart and Jon’Tavous Webb from the secondary.
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“We’re going to have a few new faces this year,” Mitchell said. “One of the boys who changed shirts last year when they first started school but will play a big role this year is Terez Reid. He will be an electric player in that position.”
GVSU football coach Matt Mitchell looks on at Grand Valley State University’s opening day practice in Allendale, Michigan, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. (Joel Bissell | )Joel Bissell |
It’s hard to call a program consistently ranked in the top 5 in the Division II polls an understatement, but after two losses to eventual national champion Ferris State last season, many expect the Bulldogs to build a GLIAC dynasty for years to come. .
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Those preseason honors and expectations are something most Grand Valley State players are used to, but this year they may be the hunters as they try to balance what has become the premier rivalry in all of Division II.
“The truth is Ferris won the national championship last year and that’s the standard,” Mitchell said. “We played the level twice last year, so we know exactly what it takes to get there and it’s not an unfamiliar challenge from Texas, Florida or California. The national championship is upon us