The Collegian
Sunday, December 10, 2023

Spiders headed to FCS playoffs for second-straight season

<p>UR's Football team playing at the CAA Champions. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics.&nbsp;</p>

UR's Football team playing at the CAA Champions. Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics. 

The University of Richmond football team is back in the FCS Playoffs.

After a 7-1 conference record and an 8-3 finish on the regular season, capped off by a Capital Cup victory over the College of William & Mary and a piece of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship Nov. 18, the Spiders will make their second-straight appearance in the FCS Playoffs. 

The Spiders, who received a bid in the left side of the FCS bracket, will play North Carolina Central University at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium at 2 p.m. Nov. 25. 

UR Head Coach Russ Huesman said after the victory against William & Mary that he couldn’t imagine the Spiders not getting a bid. 

“But, stranger things have happened,” Huesman said. “It’s up to a committee of people, but we got a CAA Championship and a Capital Cup coming home with us and those are two of the most important things right there.”

Well, whatever question marks were present within the program are now gone as the team will host the Eagles on its home turf later this week. 

The Spiders had a rocky start to their regular season, falling to 2-3 by week five. With a 31-14 loss to Hampton University during family weekend Sept. 30, it looked as if UR’s chances of repeating last season’s successes had slipped away. 

However, the Spiders would go on to win six straight games against the University of Maine, the University of Rhode Island, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Campbell University, Elon University and William & Mary, respectively, to close out the regular season. 

And just like that, the Spiders’ 2-3 record turned into an 8-3 record, putting the first five weeks of the season in the program’s rearview mirror. 

“It is a joy going out there and coaching those guys every day,” Huesman said in a press conference, following the section show Nov. 19. “So, they’re excited. They kinda got on a mission and knew what they had to do to get to this point.” 

Last season, the Spiders hosted Davidson College in the first round of the playoffs and defeated the Wildcats 41-0. Such a large margin of victory gave then-redshirt first-year quarterback Kyle Wickersham the opportunity to get some playing time in the postseason. 

Against Davidson last year, Wickersham had one pass attempt for one completion of 21 yards and rushed three times for 19 yards. Wickersham’s tendency to keep the ball in his hands and use his feet was a harbinger of things to come this season, as during the regular season, Wickersham rushed 84 yards for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

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“It’s an amazing feeling,” Wickersham said in the press conference. “Just from what we had to go through earlier in this year to where we are now, it just shows that hard work and determination will always pay off in the end. And we deserve this and we’re happy to be in it.”

After handily defeating Davidson, the Spiders then took on California State University, Sacramento in the second round of the playoffs last year and lost in a heartbreaker on the road, 38-31. 

This time around, the Spiders will look to improve upon last year’s playoff standing and try to make it past the second round for the first time since 2016, when UR lost 38-0 in the quarterfinals against Eastern Washington University

“It’s my last year, fifth year,” redshirt senior linebacker Tristan Wheeler said in the press conference. “We had a bunch of guys come back for this reason, because we felt that we had unfinished business. So, to kind of mimic and build off of last season, especially playing William & Mary in the last game for the conference meant a lot in itself.”

Contact sports editor Jimmy James at 

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