Thank you to John O'Connor for taking the time to answer some questions for us about Maryland's first opponent of the season, the Richmond Spiders.
TT: Richmond won nine games last year en route to an FCS playoffs appearance. What are the expectations for the Spiders in 2015?
John: Richmond is picked fifth in the CAA Football preseason poll and that seems fair with the loss of 23 seniors (huge hit for FCS) and the fact that the Spiders are starting a new quarterback, redshirt sophomore Kyle Lauletta. In FCS, making playoff field is always the goal
TT: Entering his 4th season as Richmond's head coach, how do fans feel about Danny Rocco? Is there any fear another school might try to hire him away, especially after last year's success?
John: Danny Rocco has brought stability to a program that was in transition following its 2008 FCS national championship and 2009 playoff qualification, for various reasons. Rocco has now won at Liberty and Richmond, and has experience at every level of football. He would seem to be a quality candidate for MAC job, or something along those lines.
TT: Richmond's biggest loss from last year's roster is arguably quarterback Michael Strauss, the school's record holder in completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns for a season. What do you expect from new starting quarterback Kyle Lauletta and how does his style of play differ from Strauss?
John: With the loss of Strauss, Richmond has switched from a spread system that averaged more pass attempts than any FCS team last year (41) to a pro-style set in which the Spiders will emphasize the running game more and throw play-action passes.
TT: What do you expect Richmond's biggest weakness to be this season? Their biggest strength?
John: Biggest strength: wide receivers Reggie Diggs and Brian Brown. Biggest weakness: defensive line, because of lack of experience. Several newcomers there.
TT: Among running back Seth Fisher, wide receiver Reggie Diggs and wide receiver Brian Brown, all of which are preseason all-CAA selections, who should Maryland fans be most worried about on Saturday? What have teams done effectively in the past to limit these three?
John: Reggie Diggs is 6-4 and can go up and get passes. He may be the CAA's best NFL prospect.
TT: Prediction time - What do you think Saturday's final score will be? How do you think the Spiders will do overall? Is there anyway they can pull off the upset?
John: FCS teams that beat FBS teams hang around for three quarters and then the FBS team usually gets tight. That's probably Richmond's best shot, though the Spiders will, obviously, be much smaller and thinner (depth-wise).