The University of Richmond football team will return to UR Stadium one more time on Saturday for its annual spring game.
The Spiders, under the leadership of first-year head coach Latrell Scott, have been practicing since mid-March. Seventeen starters graduated last season, so spring practice had been especially important this year, Scott said.
"We don't have a bunch of guys who played a lot of snaps last season, so we'll have a lot of new faces," Scott said. "It's been competitive and we've gotten some things done. Obviously we're not a finished project, but we're getting acclimated to the new offense and the new defense."
Some of the schemes and game plans will be different from former coach Mike London's approach, but Scott said the team's strategy would depend on its personnel.
"If we have to run the ball 40 times to win, we'll do it," he said. "If we have to throw it 40 times, we'll do that. Defensively, the scheme will be a little bit different, but it will definitely be an attacking defense."
One of the many starters missing from last year's Colonial Athletic Association co-champions will be four-year starting quarterback Eric Ward. Ward's former backup, sophomore John Laub, and junior Aaron Corp, a transfer from the University of Southern California, have
been competing throughout the spring for the vacant starting position.
"Both quarterbacks are showing a lot of promise throughout this process," senior wide receiver Kevin Grayson said. "It's hard to even tell those guys apart sometimes because they are such dynamic quarterbacks."
Scott said the quarterback competition was ongoing.
"I wouldn't say we have a leader at this point," he said. "They've done a great job competing, but they aren't letting [the competition] drive a wedge between them."
The Spiders also lost four starting offensive linemen to graduation, and injuries have limited the number available for practice this spring.
"It's a group of iron men," Scott said. "We've only had between five and six of them all spring, but most of them haven't missed a snap. ... They're growing up and I wouldn't trade these guys for anything. We will get some injured guys back in August, but these reps have been invaluable."
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For Scott, the first spring as a head coach brought responsibilities that he had not taken on in his previous role as a wide receiver coach at the University of Virginia, or in any of his other coaching jobs.
"It's definitely been a transition," he said. "I have to work and manage both sides of the ball now instead of just the offense. When the defense has three interceptions during a practice, it might not be the offense's [fault], it's just the defense doing a good job. I have to be a cheerleader on both sides of the ball."
Grayson said the players had also adjusted well to their new coach.
"It was easier for a lot of the older guys to adjust to him because he had been here [from 2005 to 2007 as an assistant coach]," Grayson said, "but the whole team has really jumped on board. A lot of guys are really happy and it seems like [this coaching staff] was the right fit for the situation."
Grayson and Scott both thought that Saturday's game would continue the competition that already existed during practice.
"There's going to be a lot of aggressive, hard-core competing," Grayson said. "Coach Scott preaches competing on every snap. ... There are no jobs that are locked in stone, so it makes everybody bring their A-game."
Scott admitted that the team would not reveal too many of its schemes during the spring game, but said that fans should expect to see a difference in this year's team.
"The only difference between this game and a regular scrimmage will be the uniforms," Scott said. "It will be a kind of vanilla, but we want to show the fans that we will be an uptempo, fast-paced offense and an attacking defense. We wish it could be on campus, but we still hope to get as many fans down there to support us as we can."
The spring game will kick off at 2:30 p.m. and parking lots open at 12:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to enter through the West Gate, near the press box.
Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at reilly,firstname.lastname@example.org
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