Joe Price

LSC - Texas A&M Commerce (10-1) vs. Grand Valley State (11-0), 12 pm CST

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By Joe Price
Lone Star Conference Blogger

SR4 NCAA Playoffs Round 2 - Preview and Prediction:

#7 Texas A&M Commerce (10-1) vs. #2 Grand Valley State (11-0), 12 p.m. CST Kickoff
(ESPN 3)

Allendale, Michigan

In very rare fashion, the Commerce Lions come into this game with a 2-0 record over Grand Valley with wins in the NCAA Playoffs during 1990 and 1991. Grand Valley State had another stellar season with an unblemished record in the GLIAC. Both teams are striving to get that playoff momentum to help propel them deep into the NCAA Playoffs. This game will be the first meeting between the 2 schools since the 1991 NCAA Playoffs. These teams are led by 2 of Division 2 Football’s great Head Coaches: Grand Valley State Head Coach Matt Mitchell, 7th season, 68-19 (.781) – Texas A&M Commerce Head Coach Colby Carthel, 4th season, 35-13 (.729).

Grand Valley State Notable Loss - None

Texas A&M Commerce Notable Loss – Midwestern State (9-2) on Oct. 8 (Score 25-26)

Season Statistics for Grand Valley State and Texas A&M Commerce:

Points per Game
Yards per Game
Yards per Play
Passing Yards per Game
Passing Efficiency
Completion Percentage
Average per Rush
Rushing Yards per Game
Time of Possession per Game
Punting Average
Field Goals
Points per Game
Yards per Game
Yards per Play
Passing Yards per Game
Completion Percentage
Passing Efficiency
Rushing Yards per Game
16 (2 TDs)
22 (3 TDs)
Turnover Margin
plus 12
plus 25
Special Teams
Punt Return Average
8.3 (1 TD)
16.96 (4 TDs)
Kickoff Return Average

Scouting Grand Valley State National Rankings

GVSU Offense: 5th in Passing Efficiency (172.35); #6 in Passing Yards per Completion (16.72); 15th in Total Offense (483.4 yards per game); 16th in TFLs allowed (4.64 avg.); 19th in Scoring Offense (39.7 pts per game); 20th in Rushing Offense (226.5 yards per game)
GVSU Defense: 5th in Red Zone Defense (60.6%); 10th in Turnover Margin (plus 12); 14th in Scoring Defense (17.8); 15th in Sacks (3.45 avg.); #26 in INTs (16)
RB Marty Carter: 3rd in rushing yards (1,590) and rushing yards per game (144.5); 8th in rushing TDs (18 TDs); 10th in Total TDs (19); and 13th in Scoring (10.4 pts per game)

QB Bart Williams: 4th in passing yards per completion (16.75); 5th in Passing Efficiency (172.7) and 22nd in passing TDs (26 TDs)
WR Urston Smith: 8th in yards per reception (23.26 avg.)
DL Sydney Omameh: 17th in Sacks (10.5 sacks)

GVSU Football Luncheon for this week’s game:

GVSU v. Ferris Highlights:

Players to Watch:
Texas A&M Commerce Lions
#12 QB Luis Perez – 3,007 pass yards, 64% completion, 29 pass TDs/3 INTs

#23 RB Richard Cooper – 935 rush yards and 7 TDs
The Entire Wide Receiver Core – 6 Wide outs with 220 yards or more
#5 Punt Returner Shawn Hooks – 16.76 avg. per return with 3 TDs (#1 in nation)
#21 DB Yusef Sterling Lowe – 55 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3 INTs, 4 BUs, 2 FFs
#9 LB Brucks Saathoff – 61 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 1 sack, and 2 INTs, 1 BU, 1 QBh

#11 DL Tavita Faaiu – 27 tackles, 10 TFLs, 6 sacks, 1 BU, 5 QBhs, 1 FF

Grand Valley State Lakers
#21 RB Marty Carter – 1,590 rush yards, 18 TDs
#6 QB Bart Williams – 2,713 pass yards, 61% completion, 26 pass TDs/9 INTs (172.7 Effic.)

#24 WR/PR Matt Williams – 44 catches, 807 yards, 8 TDs (didn’t play against Wayne State in last game of season)
#11 WR Nick Dodson – 44 catches, 642 yards, 10 TDs
#51 OL Aaron Cox
#32 DB Donte Carey – 39 tackles, 4 INTs, 2 BUs, 6 PDs and 1 FF
#49 LB Collin Schlosser – 93 tackles, 10 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 1 BU, 1 PD, 3 QBhs
#3 DL Sydney Omameh – 38 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 10.5 sacks, 1 BU, 1 PD, 3 QBhs, 1 FF, 2 Blkd kicks

#54 DL Dylan Carroll – 34 tackles, 14 TFLs, 7 sacks, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF and 2 QBHs

Grand Valley State comes into this game with some key injuries that plagued them through the second half of the season. They grilled out some close wins in games that they would have been more in control with their full arsenal of starters. I will note that their leading Wide Receiver Matt Williams missed their last game with Wayne State and he is a big factor in this offense. Ultimately, GVSU needs to get some people healthy to have a good chance at making an impact in the playoffs. We will see if the BYE week helped get some key players back or not. Those will be game time decisions. Texas A&M Commerce also has several players banged-up but appears to be in a little better shape than GVSU but not by much.

Grand Valley State Offense versus Texas A&M Commerce Defense: These two units should put on an excellent game. The Grand Valley State offense will try to jump out early as they garner most of their points in the 1st quarter (12.8 points average) and have only given up a total of 14 points all season in the 1st quarter; thus, the 1st quarter is critical and where the Lakers do most of their damage. The Lion defense will need to come out swinging quickly or they will be in trouble. The Commerce defense has been great against the run this season and that will prove to be their make or break against RB Marty Carter, who will be one of the best running backs that the Lions have seen all season. They will have to slow Carter down and make critical stops in the running game. The defense has been only allowing 138.8 yards per game. I suspect they will give up more than their average this week but if they can keep it under 200 they will have a chance to make an impact. The passing game of GVSU has an identity of throwing more deep balls than most. One noteworthy thing is that they don’t pass the ball much to their star running back Marty Carter, which I find unique. QB Bart Williams averages 10.24 yards per pass attempt and averages 16.75 yards per completion. This illustrates that the Lions secondary will have lots of deeper balls and will have to generate an INT or two. Look for Grand Valley to air it out when they throw it and focusing less on the short passes and more on 10 plus yard passes. The Lions secondary will be the best takeaway secondary that the Lakers have played. The secondary will certainly give up some yardage but they have a knack for getting those turnovers (22 INTs/2 INTs per game). If the secondary can get their average INTs, the Lions defense will be key to this game. The defensive line absolutely has to get pressure on Bart Williams or the passing game will pick the defense apart. The D-line has struggled at times getting to the QB and they have an uphill battle against a good GVSU offensive line.

Texas A&M Commerce Offense versus Grand Valley State Defense: This is probably the most interesting game aspect that I am wanting to see. The Commerce Lions don’t have a solo dominant receiver, as QB Luis Perez does a great job of spreading the wealth to the Receivers: Darby Smith, Lance Evans, D’Arthur Cowan, Justice Luce, Buck Wilson and the one that is really coming on strong lately, Vincent Hobbs. This makes this offensive unit dangerous. They are not relying on just one guy but every single receiver has the capability to be a significant impact. They face a stellar Lakers secondary that have 16 INTs and love to pick-off opposing QBs. The Lake secondary will face a QB that does not throw many INTs (3 on the season). He will be a true difference-maker from the QBs that they have faced this season. The Lions will throw the ball more than they will probably run, so the secondary will be on their heels all game. The Lions running game has brought some good balance to their offense; however, they are struggling running the ball at times. They have a struggle against a GVSU defense only allowing 124 rushing yards per game. The Lions offensive line has been one of the top units in all of Division 2 (#2 in Nation in Sacks Allowed). They will be needed to help make a push against a beast of a defensive line and trying to contain DLs Omameh and Carroll. This week will be the offensive line’s great challenge, by far. The question is: can the Lions run on this Laker Rush defense…Look for the Lions to rely on the pass to make an impact and the run to be the wildcard.

Game Analysis: This should be a stellar game. Coach Carthel has played Grand Valley State in the past while he was at WT; he should know what to expect from GVSU. Lubbers Stadium has always been a difficult place to play at, let alone win for opposing teams. I think if the Commerce Lions are able to take the crowd out, this may be their weekend. Lots of students will be out for Thanksgiving and the University of Michigan plays during this game time and there are lots of Michigan fans in Allendale. I don’t feel the crowd will be much of an impact. The weather should not be a factor but it will be a chilly 42 degrees; however, there shouldn’t be precipitation. The two units have been analyzed against each other, so we need to figure out what this game comes down to. The GVSU Lakers really regressed in the 2nd half of the season, mostly due to injuries; while, the Lions have progressed. I’m very skeptical about these key injuries to the Lakers. I think it may be a critical factor in this game and moving forward if they do win. The other aspect is the Lions great special teams and I think they will help setup some much needed favorable field position. If the Lions can get some takeaways and good field position, they most certainly have a chance. This will be the biggest game for the Lions in quite some time. Both of these teams are very athletic and are probably equals in that regard. Who wins?

I think that the Grand Valley injuries will be the biggest impact and that the bend but don’t bread defense of Commerce will do just enough to pull it. This game could go either way but with the Lakers late season woes (barely beating SVSU and some others), I’ll take the Lions by 1 point.

Prediction: Texas A&M Commerce 31 Grand Valley 30

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  1. champgymusa's Avatar
    If you are at the game stop over to my motorhome and say hi and we will feed ya too!!! White coach with Laker blue stripe on the front about 20 yards east ot eh main gate by the gate at Jumbotron end! GVSU is hurting for sure but dont write off the Lakers...we have a few back ups that game play a lick or two!! Good luck!
  2. Joe Price's Avatar
    Wish I could have made it! Thanks for the invite though.
  3. ccchhhrrriiisss's Avatar
    Grand Valley State looked really good today despite a fantastic effort by Commerce. Hopefully, the LSC can eventually break through that playoff wall. I was at the GVSU at Texas A&M-Kingsville semifinal game in 2003. The Javs scored first but they never scored again against Brian Kelly's Lakers. It was especially painful because I had good friends on the team and we really believed that they would win it all.

    Joe, my wife and I will continue to remember you and your family in our prayers.
  4. Joe Price's Avatar
    Thanks for the prayers Chris. I hope you are well my friend. The LSC still is lacking in the defense department and passing the ball too much plays a large part in the conference woes. Bob Eblen really said it well about why the LSC does not go deeper in the playoffs. I completely agree, "It's 2 things that the LSC playoff teams don't go deep in the playoffs: They are not physical enough on defense and the wide open style of play on the offense is not conducive to winning in the postseason."