2007 Spring Game
Offense dominates, wins 79-26 over defense
By: Kyle Schwerin
Today, defending 2-time National Champion Grand Valley State University concluded their spring drills with the annual offense vs defense spring game. It was an offensive fireworks show, and fans came away with their biggest question perhaps answered.
For the first quarter and a half, the focus seemed to lean towards perhaps Grand Valley’s next go-to receiver, Lowell’s Mike Koster. He started off with a bang, making a couple great catches over the middle of the field and taking some decent hits. However, the most important part was that he held onto the ball. Koster finished the game with 4 catches for 80 yards.
Of course, the story of the afternoon, and a good reason for the aforementioned Koster’s success, was the play of the quarterbacks.
Brad Iciek, assumed starter for this upcoming fall, looked sharp on any and all passes, racking up a game high 251 yards through the air on just 16 attempts, completing 14 of them along with 1 interception. He also hooked up with Carlos Clark and D.D. Hardy, 2 receiving newcomers, for 2 touchdowns. Most of Iciek’s passes contained surprising zip, and were very accurate as was to be expected from the Grandville product.
When Chad Somerville, the other redshirt sophomore, came in to showcase his talents, he looked equally impressive. Somerville finished the game with a line of 12 for 14, 179 yards, and 1 TD pass to Ryan Bass.
The only disappointment from the quarterback play came when neither quarterback was allowed to showcase their running abilities due to it being just a spring game, and not wanting to risk injuries. As expected, that will be a big question that fans have when the upcoming season starts, is if whoever the starting QB is has the ability to escape trouble with his legs.
Along with solid QB play, there also came a tiny bit of trouble. With Grand Valley running nearly exclusively out of the shotgun for the last handful of seasons, seeing the QB line up under center a couple times today was a new sight. However, this posed some problems, as Iciek and Somerville both fumbled a snap from center, and Iciek also bobbled a ball after the snap.
As far as the running game went, with only two running backs on the roster for this game, Maurice Gore and newcomer Steve Nargrant from Farmington Hills got all the carries. While Maurice looked like his normal self, showing some shifty moves and ability to hit the hole en route to 18 yards on 8 carries, Nargrant showed a running style that frequently isn’t seen in the Laker offense. Nargrant proved he was a running back fit for short-yardage situations, dragging tacklers on nearly every play to fight for yardage. The downhill-running back ended the day with 38 yards and one TD on a high amount of carries.
With Koster already mentioned from the receivers, one can’t forget to mention the other spectacular players of the game from the same group. While Koster dominated the first half, the second half belonged to the new guys. D.D. Hardy and Carlos Clark showed some great hands, and racked up the yardage on the Laker secondary. Hardy showed some good burst after the catch, as he hauled in a game-high 8 passes for 110 yards and two TD’s. Clark showed some good hands as he also exploded for 5 catches for 135 yards and a TD of his own.
The offensive line all game showed the depth that fans like to see. With Brandon Barnes, Sam Allen, and Billy Eisenhardt all in uniform for the game, none of them saw action mostly due to the stellar play of their backups. If there’s one group on the field that shouldn’t be a cause for concern this season or anytime in the near future, it appears to be the offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive line put some decent pressure on the quarterback at times, even though they were only credited with two sacks. There were numerous other questionable calls, but the refs let the play continue so the quarterbacks could show off their skills. Redshirt freshman Mike Mukuna led the way on the defensive line with 5 tackles. Highly-touted Jeremy Ehinger (SR/Torrance, Calif.), Chris Favors (JR/Laplace, La.), and Mendalson Covington (RS FR/Carlsbad, Calif.) all also made their presence known throughout the game as well.
The linebacking corps didn’t make any big plays during the game, but they all showed some solid tackling on the plays they needed to be there for. None of the starters (Beaty, Adams, Carruth, Beuke) played in the game, so it was up to their backups to show the depth at the position. Ben Bryant (RS FR/Evart, MI) had a game-high 6 tackles. Eric Ewing from traditional high school powerhouse Jackson Lumen Christi, another redshirt freshman, also contributed 5 tackles of his own at the position. Ryan Kleinschmidt (RS FR/Manchester, MI), James Wojciechowski (Soph./Southfield, MI), and Shawn Windey (RS FR/Commerce, MI) also heard their names called multiple times for being in on plays.
If there was one group of players on the field that caused a minor concern among fans, it was the defensive secondary. Brandon Carr and Bill Brechin sat out the game, and Samad Cain saw very limited action, so the starters weren’t on showcase. This opened up the doors for numerous new names to be called out for making plays.
The problem…however…was the lack of plays being made. Iciek and Somerville combined went 26 of 30 for 430 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. That can pretty much tell you all you needed to know about how the secondary reacted to plays. The interception went to Robert Carlisle as he made a great play in the back of the endzone to prevent a score. Senior Derek Stansbery tied the game-high 6 tackles posted by linebacker Ben Bryant, and the new names you heard making stops in the backfield were Stevie Freeman (RS FR/Detroit, MI), Denny Pittman (RS FR/Walker, MI), Lamar Brown (RS FR/Chicago, Ill.), Dan Myers (RS FR/Tecumseh, MI), Tony Thompson (RS FR/Traverse City, MI), Corey Edwards (JR/Grand Rapids, MI), and last year’s Spring Game MVP, David Misiewicz (SR/Sarasota, Fla.).
The only aspect of the game that fans didn’t get to see was the special teams outside of extra points, which went 100% on the day being kicked by 3 different players.
Kyle’s personal (as in, do not reflect the views and opinions of gvfootball.com as a whole) grades for the game:
Running Backs: B
Wide Receivers: B+
Offensive Line: A-
Defensive Line: B
Defensive Secondary: D
Pictures will be added when they become available.