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Looking Ahead to Week 2 - The Richmond Spiders

How will the Spartans handle the FCS foe traveling to East Lansing for the first time?

Richmond v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

For the first time ever, the University of Richmond’s football team is traveling to East Lansing to take on the Spartans. MSU hasn’t made a habit of playing FCS teams, last doing so in 2021 when Youngstown State came to town, and before that it was Furman in 2016 who opened the season at Spartan Stadium.

Last season’s Richmond team made it to the second round of the FCS playoffs, delivering a beatdown to Davidson in the opening round before falling to Sacramento State. The Spiders came into this season looking to build on that success, but things began to crumble early on in Week 1.

Richmond hosted Morgan State in their opener. Morgan State, coming off a 4-7 season in the MEAC, downed the Spiders on their home field 17-10.

What to Look For


Richmond is coached by Russ Huesman, who is in his seventh year at the helm for the Spiders. Huesman is a college football lifer, having spent time at a wide array of schools throughout the south including stops as an assistant at William & Mary, Memphis, and Richmond before a successful run as the head coach at Chattanooga. Prior to last year’s playoff run, Huesman’s Spiders have been middling at the FCS level, hovering around .500.

Prior to last season, Huesman brought on Winston Smith as receivers coach, and this year promoted Smith to co-offensive coordinator, teaming with Adam Ross. Smith returned to Richmond, his alma mater, after a stint in Canada coaching receivers for the Edmonton Elks and Ottawa Redblacks in the CFL. In that league, traditionally known for high-octane offense, his receiving units led the CFL in YAC, pass efficiency, and catches. While the offense struggled against Morgan State, Smith’s receivers will be something to watch on Saturday afternoon.


For 2023, Richmond is breaking in a new starting quarterback in RS sophomore Kyle Wickersham. Wickersham is a native of Louisiana, and his father Jeff played QB for LSU in the 80’s.

The opener against Morgan State was Wickersham’s first college start, and it didn’t go particularly well. Wickersham was 23/30 passing for 169 yards and an interception. On the ground, he punched the Spiders’ lone touchdown of the night in, but took 5 sacks. With 39 yards on the ground, Wickersham was Richmond’s leading rusher against the Bears. Wickersham is inexperienced, but poses a different sort of challenge on the ground than the Spartans saw in Week 1 with CMU’s Bert Emanuel Jr.

Receiver Nick DeGennaro is in his second season with Richmond, having played his first two seasons at Maryland. As a Terrapin, DeGennaro made the trip to East Lansing in 2021 but didn’t record a catch. He led the Spiders in receiving yards in their opener, edging out teammate Ja’Vion Griffin by just 4 yards.


On defense, Richmond held up well against Morgan State for most of the night, after giving up a touchdown on the Bears’ first offensive possession. Linebacker Tristan Wheeler finished the night with 17 tackles, leading the Spiders. The RS senior linebacker has been first team all CAA for last three seasons, and has firmly established himself as one of the very best defensive players in the CAA. Keep an eye on #30, as he will be most likely to disrupt the MSU offense.

Defensive back D’Angelo Stocker picked off Morgan State early on in their matchup for Richmond’s only interception of the night.

How Nervous Should We Be?

Probably not very. Richmond isn’t a bad team, as evidenced by their run into the FCS playoffs last year. On offense, they don’t have the explosive playmakers who usually need to pop in these matchups to make an upset happen. Kyle Wickersham is not Armanti Edwards.

That said, Richmond’s defense appears competent enough to keep Michigan State from finding its offensive rhythm, and if MSU can’t establish itself earlier than it did against CMU, then things might get a little tense. It just seems far fetched to believe that the Spider squad who struggled mightily against Morgan State on the offensive side of the ball will be able to find much against what looked like an improved Michigan State defense.