Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, October 01, 2010

Midland Daily News: SVSU football team hopes to turn things around at #11 Hillsdale

Posted: Friday, October 1, 2010 1:18 pm | Updated: 11:45 am, Fri Oct 1, 2010.

By John Kennett : , Original Posting

The football should be flying all over the field Saturday as the GLIAC's top two passers hook up when Saginaw Valley State University heads to Hillsdale College for a 1 p.m. game.

The Chargers' Troy Weatherhead is the GLIAC's top-rated quarterback, completing over 80 percent of his passes with a pass efficiency rating of 192.5. SVSU's Charles Dowdell has a 62.7 completion percentage and leads the league with 10 touchdown passes.

Weatherhead, who was named Second Team All-GLIAC last year, is 83 of 102 for 1,044 yards, two interceptions, nine TDs and 261.0 yards per game. The senior is the best passer in Hillsdale history with 7,362 career passing yards.

"He is having an outstanding season and playing great," said SVSU coach Jim Collins.

Hillsdale comes into Saturday's game at 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the GLIAC with their only loss to top-ranked Grand Valley 44-41 in the second week of the season.

The Cardinals suffered a heartbreaking 30-26 loss to Northwood in the Axe Bowl last Saturday, as the defense gave up three scoring plays of over 40 yards.

"To beat Hillsdale, we can't give up the big plays like we did against Northwood," said Collins. "Our best players have to play better than their best players, and that did not happen against Northwood. We did not do a good job of reading our keys defensively. This week, we need to do a much better job of reading our keys."

With last week's loss, the Cardinals dropped to a disappointing 1-3 record overall and 1-2 in the GLIAC. The last time SVSU and Hillsdale met, in 2007, SVSU took a 24-21 victory. The Cardinals hold a 17-13 series edge.

"Our guys are not hanging their heads," said Collins. "(Tuesday) at practice, they were very focused and intense."

On Saturday, the Cardinals will face a Hillsdale offense that mixes the pass and the run. The Chargers lead the GLIAC in total offense with 450 yards per game -- 272.5 passing and 177.5 rushing.

"We have to play a balanced defense," said Collins. "We can't load up on the run or they'll throw it over us, and we can't load up on the pass or they'll run it down our throats."

Not only does Hillsdale come at you with the GLIAC's top passer, but also the league's best rusher in running back Joe Glendening, who is averaging 152.5 yards per game. The sophomore from East Grand Rapids has gained 610 yards on 111 carries for a 5.5 average and eight touchdowns. Against Grand Valley, he rushed 35 times for 224 yards and three TDs.

"We remember him well," said Collins. "We looked at him coming out of high school. He is a hard-nosed back."

Giving Weatherhead a huge target to throw to is 6-foot-5 wide receiver Andre Holmes, who was a 2009 First Team All-GLIAC selection. The senior has 36 receptions on the year for 422 yards, three TDs and 105.5 yards per game. The receptions, yardage, TDs and yards per game are second only to the Cardinals' Andrew Beaver, who has caught 36 passes for 429 yards, four TDs and 107.2 ypg.

"Holmes has been their go-to guy," said Collins. "He can run and is very physical."

The Cardinals counter with senior quarterback Dowdell, who has completed 79 of 126 passes for 1,029 yards, five interceptions, and 257.2 yards per game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Chargers' free safety Joe Vear was selected as this week's GLIAC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in a 42-37 victory over Lake Erie. For the game, the junior had 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and an interception.

"Their defense is disciplined and is going to make a team execute," said Collins. "They play hard and aren't overly sophisticated."

Chargers' defensive linemen David Bakker (6-3, 233) and Kam Mueller (6-3, 257) are also of concern to Collins. Bakker has 11 tackles, four tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks, while Mueller has 15 tackles and four tackles for loss.

"They're both physical," said Collins.

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