For Richmond, it begins with the ends.
Led by defensive ends Lawrence Sidbury and Sherman Logan, the Spiders rank fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision in total defense (251 yards per game) and are tied for sixth in scoring defense, allowing 16.2 points per game. The two seniors have combined for 91 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 13 1/2 sacks.
Richmond defensive coordinator Russ Huesman, a former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive back whose name has been mentioned as a candidate in the Mocs’ coaching search, said players such as Sidbury and Logan make his job a lot easier.
“You’re usually a pretty smart coach when you’ve got good players,” Huesman said, “and we’ve got good players. And those two are among the best we’ve got.”
Huesman said he won’t discuss the Mocs’ job until after the season, which continues Saturday when the Spiders (10-3) face three-time defending national champion Appalachian State (11-2) in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. The teams met at Kidd Brewer Stadium in the semifinals a year ago, and the Mountaineers won 55-35.
“Last year’s game, I think they outplayed us completely,” Huesman said.
Neither Sidbury nor Logan played in that game. Both were out with injuries and could only sit and watch as ASU quarterback Armanti Edwards ran for 313 yards and four touchdowns and was 14-for-16 passing for 182 yards and three scores.
“It was real tough to miss that game because I felt like I could have made a difference. We both did,” said Sidbury, who has 7 1/2 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.
The two ends have played every game this season and have made a big difference for the Spiders, whose only FCS losses were to Colonial Athletic Association rivals James Madison and Villanova. Those teams meet in another quarterfinal Saturday.
After the way the season ended a year ago, Sidbury said he and Logan made a vow to be difference-makers this season.
“We kind of just made a commitment to dominate,” he said. “We’re definitely having a lot of fun playing, and we’re just glad that we’ve got this opportunity to play this year.”
Huesman said the Spiders will have to be at their best defensively, as the Mountaineers are second in the nation in total offense (471.5 ypg) and third in scoring (39.2 ppg).
“In my opinion, Armanti Edwards is the best player in the country. He can throw, he can run; he’s just a kid that can play,” Huesman said. “He’s a scary dude, plus he’s got weapons all around him, and any time you play them it’s going to be tough.
“This year we have a few more players that we think will make a difference, though.”
Beginning with the ends.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...