Fresh off a statement win over Virginia Tech in its season opener, Boston College football looks to keep things rolling against Richmond. The Spiders—who are the only FCS opponent on the Eagles’ schedule—beat Jacksonville, 38-19, last weekend to open their 2019 season. BC should certainly feel confident about its chances against Richmond, but the Spiders certainly aren’t a pushover. They beat Virginia in 2016, and took an early 10-7 lead against the Cavaliers before eventually losing, 42-13, last season.
Who is BC playing?
When is BC playing?
Saturday, Sept. 7, 3:30 p.m.
Where is BC playing?
Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
How to watch:
The game will be livestreamed on the ACC Network.
The teams have actually met before, though not since 1971. The Eagles (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) hold an all-time record of 4-1 against Richmond (1-0). The last time the two schools played, BC held the Spiders scoreless, winning 24-0. That Eagles team finished 1971 ranked No. 14 in the country, with a 9-2 record, only losing to Texas Tech and West Virginia. Tom Bougus—who totaled 199 carries for 1058 yards and six touchdowns—was the team’s leading rusher, while Ray Rippman quarterbacked BC. The Eagles’ only loss all-time to Richmond came in 1953, when BC lost, 14-0. The Spiders finished 5-3-1 that season, with the tie coming against Wake Forest.
What to expect from Richmond:
Last season, Richmond finished 4-7 in the first year without quarterback Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round draft pick that led the Spiders to two appearances in the FCS Playoffs during his tenure as a starter. Joe Mancuso, Lauletta’s replacement, flashed talent but was also inconsistent in his first year as a starter. The then-redshirt sophomore threw for 1,185 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018, but also tossed 10 interceptions.
Mancuso can do some damage with his legs, though—last season, he rushed for 391 yards and three touchdowns. That dual-threat ability was on full display in Richmond’s season opener against Jacksonville, when the Blairsville, Ga. native completed 14-of-19 passes for 131 yards, and tacked on 77 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Dolphins. BC’s defense, which faced more of a pocket passer in Ryan Willis last week, will have to make some adjustments to contain Mancuso.
Mancuso also has the dynamic running back duo of Xavier Goodall and Aaron Dykes as secondary weapons. Goodall was the team’s leading rusher in 2017 before missing the entire 2018 campaign due to injury, while Dykes flashed in four games last season before redshirting. Against Jacksonville, both looked explosive, and averaged at least seven yards per carry. In total, the Spiders rumbled for 326 yards on the ground in Week 1, averaging 8.6 yards per carry in the process. The Eagles held Virginia Tech to 2.3 yards per rush last Saturday, and containing Richmond’s ground game to a similar degree is likely the key to not letting it hang around.
On the other side of the ball, the Spiders’ undoubted star is defensive end Maurice Jackson. The Preseason Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year finished with 10 sacks last season, and picked up right where he left off in Richmond’s season opener, recording a quarterback hit and returning a fumble for a touchdown against Jacksonville. Billy Caughell, who finished second on the team with 74 tackles last year, is also back to head the linebacking core.
Daniel Jones, a senior safety who was named Second Team All-CAA in preseason and has seven career interceptions, is one piece of an experienced secondary that starts another senior, Trent Williams, at the other safety position. The listed starting cornerbacks on the two-deep are Brandon Feamster, who transferred from Duke as a graduate student following 2018, and Noah Nicholson, who played in all 11 games as a redshirt freshman last season.
As a unit, Richmond allowed 32.6 points per game in 2018, a figure which ranked last in the CAA. The Spiders certainly have the experience to take a step forward this season, and are off to a good start, holding the Dolphins to just six points through the first three quarters in Week 1. Richmond also held opposing teams to just 3.8 yards a carry last season, and were excellent against Jacksonville, so its defensive front might pose some questions for A.J. Dillon, David Bailey, and BC’s offensive line.
Richmond has given Virginia trouble in the past, but realistically shouldn’t be able to hang around for more than one half against a team of BC’s caliber. The Eagles’ offensive line should be able to handle the Spiders’ front seven, giving Anthony Brown, A.J. Dillon, and Co. the time to execute rather seamlessly.
On the other side of the ball, Mancuso and his legs might give BC some fits, though John Lamot, Max Richardson, and the Eagles’ other linebackers should be able to limit his running ability somewhat. Richmond’s path to staying competitive will likely involve a heavy dose of running the ball and controlling time of possession. However, BC proved to be stout against the run last week, and should be able to repeat the feat against a Spiders offensive line and running back room that isn’t as talented as Virginia Tech’s. All signs point to a rather easy win for the Eagles, but if Richmond is able to manufacture a big gain or two on the ground, it could hang around later than expected.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor