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Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Football coach disappointed despite big win

<p>Coach Danny Rocco stands on the sidelines during a Richmond victory.&nbsp;</p>

Coach Danny Rocco stands on the sidelines during a Richmond victory. 

Flat. Slow. Disappointing. Unacceptable. Are you kidding me?

These were some of the words head coach Danny Rocco chose to describe his team’s 37-0 shutout of University of Rhode Island on Saturday.

Despite a strong defensive performance, Richmond’s execution was noticeably poor in all other phases of the game. Rocco pointed to the 12 penalties for 90 yards and the lack of intensity from the offense as serious disappointments.

“We were almost like we were a year ago up there, to be honest with you,” Rocco said, referencing Richmond’s narrow loss at Rhode Island last season. “We’re going to have to play a lot better than that right there if we have any hope of having a successful season moving forward.”

Quarterback Michael Rocco played a “solid” game, his coach said, and was not the reason for the offensive woes. Instead, it was the mental errors leading to penalties and the lack of motivation from everyone on the offense other than the quarterback.

The statistics do not speak to how poorly Coach Rocco said he thought his offense played. The team did not turn the ball over, and showed balance as it earned about 200 yards both rushing and passing. Nevertheless, it was noticeable to anyone watching the game that the Spiders were disorganized and lacking focus at times.

“We didn’t have anything like this in practice all week,” Michael Rocco said of the penalties and mental errors. He agreed with his coach that the performance was disappointing, and said he was just as accountable as his teammates were for the mistakes.

Even though the offense was disappointing, the Spiders were dominant defensively, forcing six turnovers and stopping Rhode Island on 11 of 13 third-down plays. It was one of the best performances for Richmond’s defense this season. Both Evan Kelly and Justin Williamson had a sack, and David Jones returned an interception for a touchdown.

Kelly pointed to practice as the reason for the defense’s ability to force turnovers and control the game. “Sometimes the offense has to pick up the defense or the defense has to pick up the offense,” he said. ”I think today the defense had to pick up the offense.”

Jones played a major role in the victory for the Spiders. He recovered a fumble on a kickoff and intercepted two passes. He was later forced to leave the game because of an apparent ankle injury.

Coach Rocco was happy that Jones made impactful plays. “He flashes so much in practice,” Coach Rocco said. “He is a great athlete.”

Jones was not the only important player to suffer an injury on Saturday. Stephen Barnette, one of the best playmakers on the team, suffered an apparent tear to his ACL, Coach Rocco said, which will likely end his season.

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Regardless of the team’s quality of play, Richmond earned a victory and is now 5-2 on the season. Still, the team will have to increase its intensity and its focus in the coming weeks in order to continue to win.

“If we play like that down there at Elon, we’ll get beat,” Coach Rocco said. “I guarantee it. These kids better figure it out.”

Contact Sports Editor Charlie Broaddus at charlie.broaddus@richmond.edu

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