The Collegian
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Jovan Smith has breakthrough game in loss against Delaware

The University of Richmond may employ a tailback-by-committee attack, but in its 34-13 loss on Saturday to the University of Delaware, it may have found a head for that committee.

Redshirt freshman Jovan Smith ran for 102 yards on 10 carries to give Richmond its first 100-yard rusher this season. Smith entered the game with a total of four yards on four carries.

"He was a young man that had a great summer for us," Richmond coach Latrell Scott said. "He had been banged up the previous two few weeks, and we got him some touches today, and I think obviously we see what Jovan Smith can do for us down the stretch."

Smith was the main source of offense for Richmond as quarterback Aaron Corp (18-29, 116 yards, one touchdown and one interception) struggled with his accuracy. Out of a total of 234 yards Richmond gained, he recorded 113 of them.

The longest play of the day for Richmond was recorded by Smith with a 31-yard run during the third quarter that set up a touchdown to tie the score at 13. On his first carry of the day, Smith went for 12 yards and he had rushes a 10-plus yards five times.

Scott would not commit to Smith as a starter for the next game against Coastal Carolina, but based on Scott's brief history as a head coach, Smith should expect to see a start soon.

Senior tailback Tyler Kirchoff got the start against Delaware after providing all of the Spiders' offense last week in overtime, including the game-winning 16-yard run. But because of Smith's performance, Kirchoff only had four rushing attempts, three of which came before the half.

Although Smith may not have been a household name before Saturday, senior wide receiver Kevin Grayson knew that Smith had the potential to be a dominate running back.

"Jovan's basically been a dynamic back since he got here as a freshman," Grayson said. "We knew he was going to do great things as long as we go out there and block for him. He'll continue to do great things I'm sure."

Even after a botched snap -- which Delaware recovered -- to Smith who was in the Wildcat formation, Scott did not shy away from using Smith.

"I've got a lot of confidence in all my players, and guys make mistakes," Scott said. "I think me proving to these guys that I trust them is that if you make a mistake it doesn't mean the end of your day."

Smith's contributions were especially valuable as the Delaware defense held Corp to 116 yards passing. Corp was sacked three times and had pressure often.

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Corp was without the service of wide receivers Donte Boston, who missed the game with a broken rib, and Tre Gray, who missed the second half with an injury that occurred last week.

If Smith can duplicate his performance against Delaware, he will be the answer to the season-long rushing struggle. Coming into Saturday, the Spider running backs averaged 4.3 yards per carry. But take away a 70-yard touchdown run by sophomore Kendall Gaskins during the University of Virginia game, that average falls to less than 3.3 yards per carry.

There shouldn't be any hesitation by Scott to allow a freshman to take the bulk of the carries. As Delaware's freshman running back Andrew Pierce proved, a freshman back can be a workhorse with his 123-yard, three-touchdown performance.

Although Saturday's game won't go down in Richmond lore, it could have big ramifications not only this year, but also the next three years of Smith's career.

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