The Richmond Spiders made decisions and set goals before Saturday's game against Elon. They wanted to run the ball. Seth Fisher and Jacobi Green both wanted to run for 100 yards. Richmond wanted to dominate Mike Ditka style--with a powerful, authoritative run game and a disruptive, controlling defense.
The Spiders accomplished all of that on Saturday. The 27-14 score was not indicative of Richmond's supremacy, though, as Elon scored two touchdowns against inexperienced Richmond defenders in garbage time.
"I think for us, we probably got done what we wanted to get done out there today," coach Danny Rocco said. "We wanted to run the ball with some power and some authority. Our primary objective was in fact to run the ball, kind of control the line of scrimmage."
Green was explosive, with 101 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. Fisher was tenacious, breaking tackle after tackle on his way to 122 yards. The combination of Green's speed and quickness and Fisher's bruising power was too much for Elon to handle, as it is for most teams who face the Spiders.
It was the first time two Richmond running backs had run for 100 yards since Sept. 8, 2007, but the two didn't shy away from making that their goal.
"That was our goal to come in and both of us run for 100 yards," Green said. "I think it's big because it's gonna open up (receivers) Brian Brown and Reggie Diggs when we go to the postseason."
The Spiders' performance in the run game was timely, too. During the week leading up to the game, CAA Football featured Richmond offensive lineman and captain Thomas Evans as the strongest Spider football player ever. He looked that way on Saturday, as did the rest of the "Trench Mafia," Richmond's self-named offensive line, as they bullied Elon and plowed holes for Green and Fisher.
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta also received credit from Green after the game for the success of the run game.
"I think Kyle Lauletta was making the checks that got us to better runs than the original call was," Green said. "I think he plays a big part in it."
The defense exuded the same combination of force and grace. The force came in the form of five sacks and the continual collapse of Elon's offensive line under the power of Richmond's Winston Craig and Andrew Clyde, among others. The grace was displayed in the defense's back end, where Ayo Ogunniyi's instinct, quickness and leaping ability helped him catch two interceptions.
Richmond's defenders understand the importance of having both a steady pass rush and lockdown coverage in the secondary.
"Any time you can get hits on the quarterback, maybe not even sacks, you're getting in his head," Clyde, who had two sacks, said. "He wants to throw that ball out quicker, that just helps our secondary. And then it kind of goes the other way around. When they're just locking these receivers down, it just lets us have more time to get to the quarterback."
That defensive cohesion has been the reason for what Rocco called the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's--turnovers.
"The single biggest statistical difference this year has been in our ability to protect the football," Rocco said. "Defensively I like the way that we are playing the ball in the air. The guys in our secondary can catch the ball."
Lauletta has been responsible for minimizing the offensive turnovers, and he's done well. He did throw an interception against Elon, but that was just his second of the season. It didn't matter anyway because of the run game's success and the big throws he made to Brown, who had four catches for 88 yards and leads the team this season with 439 yards and 23 catches in just four games. That's 19 yards a catch.
The Spiders, now 4-1, are in midseason form just in time for the tougher conference games to begin. Next week they will face what looks like an easy game at 1-5 Rhode Island, but the following week they'll travel to to James Madison for a major challenge against the undefeated Dukes.
Contact Sports Editor Charlie Broaddus at firstname.lastname@example.org