Huesman says he’ll be picky about pickoffs
Richmond’s QBs threw 18 interceptions in 11 games last season
Some came on tipped balls. Some were caused by poor pass protection, or an incorrectly run route, or an overthrow. And there were many other factors.
The “how” doesn’t matter as much to University of Richmond coach Russ Huesman as the “how many?”
Spiders quarterbacks threw 18 interceptions in 11 games last season. When UR begins spring practice on March 1, aerial turnovers will be the central issue Richmond will address.
Huesman said he gave offensive coordinator Jeff Durden a two-word directive as the UR staff began preparing for spring
ball: “Fix it.”
Subpar decision-making by quarterbacks led the list of reasons for interceptions, in Huesman’s estimation.
Add nine fumbles lost and the Spiders (4-7, 2-6 CAA) committed 27 turnovers. Their turnover margin of minus-9 ranked No. 107 among 124 FCS teams.
“If I can make one guarantee to you, we’re going to cut that,” Huesman said. “One is going to be too many this year.”
Huesman was the defensive coordinator for the 2008 Richmond team that won the FCS championship. Those Spiders completed a 13-3 season with a turnover margin of plus-24.
“That’s why you win a national championship. You don’t win championships without playing great defense and hanging on to the football,” Huesman said. “Two things will happen [this] year. We’ll play great defense and we will not turn the ball over.”
Only one FCS team among the division’s 124 threw more interceptions than Richmond, and that was VMI (19). The Keydets, who went 1-10, averaged 53 pass attempts, the most in FBS or FCS. The Spiders averaged 33 pass attempts.
Kevin Johnson, who began the season as starting quarterback and resurfaced as the backup, threw eight interceptions in seven games. Joe Mancuso became the starter after backing up Johnson, and Mancuso threw 10 in nine games.
By the end of the season, Reid Chenault started. He threw none in four games he played (64 pass attempts).
Johnson transferred from Richmond. Mancuso and Chenault return this year as juniors. It seems probable that the Spiders will try to bring in a transfer quarterback before summer practice begins.
“Most people in [the CAA] are one or two players away from winning the championship, and one or two players away from being at the bottom,” Huesman said. “That’s what this league is all about.”
Another emphasis for Richmond this spring is remaining healthy. The Spiders finished the 2018 season with eight players who started every game. Only three played offense, each a lineman.
“We’re going to have to be careful this spring, obviously, how much hitting we do, how much tackling we do,” said Huesman, who’s in his third year as Spiders coach. “You’ve got to be smart in the contact that you have, the rest that you’re giving.
“We’ve had just about everything happen … a hip, a shoulder, a knee, a hamstring. You name it and we kind of had it. If it was one thing specifically, you might be able to say ‘OK, what’s going on here?’ But it’s just been kind of a wide range of everything that occurred.”
The Spiders will play their spring game April 6.