The Richmond Spiders will begin the post-Danny Rocco era in 2017. Rocco turned around a program that had fallen on hard times before he arrived on campus. The Spiders had gone from a national championship winner to a team that went winless in conference in a span of three seasons prior to his hiring. Rocco left to take over the head coaching job at Delaware in the offseason, leaving Russ Huesman in charge of the program.
2016 Richmond Football Season In Review
Richmond started the 2016 season with a big win in Charlottesville. The Spiders knocked off Virginia, 37-20, in a game in which they led the whole way. The offense was stellar, racking up 530 total yards against the Cavaliers. Defensively, the team was on point too. The Spiders held UVA to just 38 rushing yards on 21 carries and forced three fumbles.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta was a star for the Spiders last season. He threw for over 3,000 yards and had a three-to-one touchdown to interception ratio despite playing some of the best pass defenses at the FCS level. Sadly, his season was cut short after he tore his ACL against William & Mary, and the Spiders’ hopes of making a long playoff run were dashed as well.
Brian Brown was the primary target for Spiders quarterbacks last fall, catching more than double the number of passes of the next leading receiver. He finished the year with 81 receptions for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Spiders left something to be desired on the defensive side of the ball, though. There was a stretch in the early part of the season in which the team gave up an average of 34 points per game against teams that went a combined 21-22 on the year. The defense collapsed in losses to James Madison and William & Mary as well and was nonexistent in the playoff loss to Eastern Washington.
2017 Richmond Football Season Preview
Huesman was the defensive coordinator for the Spiders’ lone national championship team. He left to take the head coaching job at Chattanooga and is now back after eight seasons in southern Tennessee.
He will bring a much-needed defensive mindset to the team that doesn’t return much from 2016. The hope is that his schemes will overcome some of the talent deficiencies.
On offense, the Spiders bring a lot of talent back. Lauletta is returning from the torn ACL and things seem to be coming along nicely health wise. There’s no denying that he is a great decision maker in the pocket and he should be able to put up big numbers again in 2017.
He is going to have plenty of help in the backfield too. Running backs Gordon Collins and Xavier Goodall are both coming back from injuries that sidelined them in 2016 and are ready to roll. That will be good news for a Spiders team that wants to run the ball and keep the defense off of the field.
2017 Richmond Football Schedule
August 27: Richmond at Sam Houston State
September 9: Richmond at Colgate
September 16: Richmond vs. Howard
September 23: Richmond vs. Elon
October 7: Richmond vs. Albany
October 14: Richmond at Towson
October 21: Richmond at Delaware
October 28: Richmond vs. Stony Brook
November 4: Richmond at Villanova
November 11: Richmond at James Madison
November 18: Richmond vs. William and Mary
FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch
One of the best FCS games of the season will be one of the first. When Richmond travels to take on Sam Houston State, there are likely to be plenty of points scored. Reigning FCS Offensive Player of the Year Jeremiah Briscoe will be ready to come out gunning after how the Bearkats finished last year, and Lauletta should be able to keep up with him given the sorry state of Sam Houston State’s secondary.
When the Spiders travel to take on James Madison in the penultimate week of the regular season, the Colonial crown might be on the line. The Dukes were able to get the better of the Spiders in a back-and-forth game last season and will likely do the same on home turf this year. Fade Richmond in your FCS Pick ‘Em Contests that week.