#10 Richmond FCS Football 2017 Preview


Richmond Spiders


Overall Rank: #10

#3 CAA

Coach Russ Huesman takes over the Richmond program after eight relatively successful seasons at Chattanooga. He turned the Mocs into a consistent playoff team during his tenure and takes the reigns of a program that has also made the playoffs the last three seasons. Last year the Spiders beat North Carolina A&T and North Dakota to reach the quarterfinals. They were blanked 38-0 by Eastern Washington and that was not a great way to end the season, but Richmond will quickly move on from that and have another go at the playoffs in 2017.
2016 Record: 10-4, 5-3
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Russ Huesman (0-0 at Richmond, 59-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jeff Durden
Defensive Coordinator: Adam Braithwaite
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Deontez Thompson, RB, 1,001 yards
Passing: Kyle Lauletta, QB, 3,022 yards
Receiving: Tyler Wilkins, WR, 561 yards
Tackles: Brendan Coniker, DB, 94
Sacks: Brandon Waller, DL, 5.5
Interceptions: Tafon Mainsah, DB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Xavier Goodall, TE Garrett Hudson, WR Jarmal Bevels, DB Micah Keels, DL Andrew Clyde, K Griffin Trau
Key Losses: WR Brian Brown, OL Thomas Evans, OL Nicholas Vergos, LB Omar Howard, DL Winston Craig, DB Charles Mack, LB Selton Hodge
The offense returns a 3,000 yard passer and a 1,000 yard rusher and should again be one of the more potent and effective offenses in the Colonial Athletic Association. Kyle Lauletta has thrown for over 3,000 yards in each of his two years as a starter and the 6-3 senior will likely continue that trend. Losing Brian Brown, who caught 81 passes for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns, does hurt though. Players like Tyler Wilkins, Jarmal Bevels and tight end Garrett Hudson will look to pick up the lost production. Deontez Thompson rushed for 1,001 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016 and Xavier Goodall also returns after rushing for 394 yards in just six games. Those two are very good backs, but their fortunes will depend on the rebuilding of the offensive line that lost Thomas Evans and Nicholas Vergos. This is an offense that wants to move fast under Coach Huesman so depth on the line is even more important.
The defense was very good last season, but could stand to boost their pass rush. That may come with the new defensive scheme, but there are some players who should be able to get into the backfield on a regular basis. Brandon Waller tallied 5.5 sacks last season and Andrew Clyde added 3.0 sacks. Redshirt freshman Darius Reynolds could play an important role as a pass rusher too. The losses at linebacker are significant. Replacing leading tackler Omar Howard and fourth leading tackler Selton Hodge will not be a simple task. Brendan Coniker, Tafon Mainsah and Micah Keels highlight a talented secondary that ranked eighth in the FCS last year in pass defense, allowing a mere 170.2 yards per game through the air. The numbers may not be as impressive in 2017 as Richmond will likely be involved in more high scoring games, but throwing against the Spiders will not be easy.
The Bottom Line:
Richmond kicks off the season on August 27th with a fascinating road trip to Sam Houston State. That is a contest that could repeat itself deep in the playoffs. The CAA slate is back heavy with the biggest games coming in November. Richmond should enter the final few weeks of the season with a shot at winning the CAA title. Even if they lose a few more games than expected in September and October, they can make an impression on the playoff selection committee in November with wins at Villanova and James Madison.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 138.4 (78th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 271.5 (16, 1)
Total Offense: 409.9 (33, 2)
Scoring Offense: 28.6 (45, 2)
Rushing Defense: 146.8 (43, 5)
Pass Defense: 170.2 (8, 2)
Total Defense: 317.0 (11, 3)
Scoring Defense: 23.4 (32, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.50 (28, 4)
Sacks: 1.64 (79, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.21 (77, 10)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#43 Jack Bowler