With leading rusher Gordon Collins now out for the season, second-ranked Richmond is short on experience at running back entering Saturday's CAA Football lid-lifter at Stony Brook (12 p.m. ET).
The Spiders lost Collins to a torn ACL in last week's 34-0 romp over Norfolk State. Collins played a large role in the Spiders' 37-20 Week 1 stunner over Virginia by rushing for a career-high 114 yards on 13 carries and ripping off a back-breaking 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
True freshman Xavier Goodall and sophomore Deontez Thompson will be called upon to fill the void, a duo which has combined for 118 yards and 22 carries at the collegiate level.
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Despite the pair's limited track record, Richmond coach Danny Rocco insisted the game plan won't change against the Seawolves, who return seven starters from a defense that held opponents to a conference-low 104.6 rushing yards per game in 2015.
“We're going to find ways to run the ball. We've got our schemes and we're going to stay true to who we are and what we do,” Rocco said. “(Goodall and Thompson) are both young but they're both talented. They're both very capable.”
Rocco will still have the Spiders on upset alert. Stony Brook already owns a win at home over an opponent ranked in the STATS FCS Top 25, having edged then-No. 19 North Dakota 13-9 in the Sept. 1 opener, and its rugged defense kept Temple to 301 total yards last week.
The offense hasn't followed suit, though. The Seawolves have mustered a mere 354 total yards through two games and are averaging a measly 1.6 yards per rush attempt. They finished 0 for 13 on third-down conversions in the 38-0 loss to Temple.
Coach Chuck Priore knows that kind of production won't cut it against a potent Richmond team featuring the reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Kyle Lauletta and All-America receiver Brian Brown, not to mention a defense that shut down Virginia's run game and yielded just 122 total yards to Norfolk State.
“I think they're the best FCS team we've played against,” Priore said. “We've been in the playoffs – we played Sam Houston State, who was No. 2 in the country at that time – I think this team is more complete. They can do everything well on both sides of the ball.”
Rocco and Priore have an extensive history against one another, having split four meetings from 2008-11 when Rocco was at Liberty and Stony Brook in the Big South. The Flames lost both visits to LaValle Stadium, though Rocco guided Richmond to a 39-31 win there in 2013.
“He'll have his team ready to play, that's one thing that I know is a given,” Rocco said. “So we're going to have to certainly be at our best here to get a road win.”