The 2009 football season is well under way and the Spiders are playing well enough to have six wins versus zero defeats. It has been a season of close calls, last-second wins and dominating play at times on offense and defense.
Someone said a long time ago when it came to football and winning games, "I'd rather be lucky than good," although I think that luck is when opportunity meets preparation.
This team is a road-tested team for sure. Four of our first six games have been on the road. The first two games were away against Duke University and the University of Delaware. Those games were followed by two home games against Hofstra University and the Virginia Military Institute. The last two games were again away at James Madison University and, most recently, the University of Maine.
It is very difficult to win college football games. It takes a good coaching staff that can implement a game plan to attack the weaknesses of an opponent. It takes the players and their ability to carry out that plan. It takes leadership to put all the pieces together.
Thus far, Richmond has garnered national attention with its win streak total, which currently stands at 15. Equally impressive is the 10-game road-win streak - the longest of any Division I team in the nation. From our perspective we are just trying to do whatever we can to add up to more than the other team when the final whistle blows.
There are some Spider faithful who have been making the away trips with us. Of course it is always good to see our students and fans come out for our home games as well. Keep wearing Spider red, and keep yelling and screaming and creating an atmosphere that makes it difficult for the opposing team to hear and execute their game plan. BE LOUD AND PROUD!
The last time I wrote to you, I said in order for us to have a successful season we would need some new faces to emerge and become playmakers for us. In addition, some of the older, more experienced players would have to improve and play really well too.
To date, before the University of Massachusetts game, the scouting report is as follows. On offense, Eric Ward has become the school's all-time leader in touchdown passes and completions. He is having an All-American year, in my humble opinion. Justin Forte is leading the Colonial Athletic Association in rushing yards per game. He has really stepped his game up.
Our receivers continue to provide playmaking ability. Tre Gray, Kevin Grayson, Jordan Mitchell and Donte Boston have played well.
Words cannot describe how I feel about senior captain and leader of the team Eric Ward. Eric has done an outstanding job of representing the team, his family and the University of Richmond. At this point, midway through the season, he has been recognized for his productive play on the field. It would not be a surprise if Eric is among the leaders of the Football Championship Subdivision at the end of the season.
We still have a lot of games to play. I hope we can solidify our position in making the playoffs. At this writing we have four more conference games left against quality opponents. We have to continue and strive to get better.
On defense our leadership has been strong. The "Parker Brothers," Martin Parker and Parker Miles, are playing as well as any defensive tackle tandem in the country. The linebackers are providing leadership and playmaking ability. The secondary has several talented players back there. The hardest thing to do is trying to find adequate playing time for all of them.
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One way to do that is to get them involved in special teams. Kick-off, kickoff-return, punt and punt-return units are critical elements in a game. Having the right personnel is an important element to a successful outcome.
There are three main elements in a football game that you have to be good at. The game can be divided in thirds. Each element is important to the other. They are offense, defense and special teams. We have found out that where one area is deficient, playing well in the other areas can raise the level of the team's play. For example, when we were playing Maine, Derek Hatcher returned a punt for 90 yards and a touchdown. It was the second-longest punt return in the school's history. His return ignited the rest of the team and created an energy and passion to help us play an excellent second half.
In regards to special teams, the most notable issue to date has been the recent injury to our punter Brian Radford. He was injured at the JMU game when a player rolled on his ankle. He is projected to be out for four to six weeks. Brian is a fierce competitor so don't count him out. He may surprise all of us and be back in action sooner rather than later. His injury has caused other players to step up and perform.
Our punter now is Brett Weigand, a senior, who has patiently waited his turn to perform. Handling the kickoff duties is true freshman Wil Kamin. He did a good job against Maine. So, as you see, the next-man-up mentality is critical for any team sport. If we can get all the parts working together then we have a chance.
Hope to see and hear you all soon.
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