Know Thy Enemy is a Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State's opponent. This week, The State News' football beat writer Nick Lundberg spoke with sports reporter Jimmy James of The Collegian ahead of Saturday's Michigan State-Richmond game.
After using a second half run to power past Central Michigan in their first game of the season, Michigan State football will host the Richmond Spiders for the first time ever on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.
Richmond is coming off a close 17-10 loss to Morgan State to open their season after a successful 2022 saw them making the second round of the FCS playoffs.
Q: What did you see from the Spiders in the one score loss for the first game of the year?
A: “A couple key seniors on the offense graduated, so it's definitely a young team. I think we (Richmond) expected to beat Morgan State, but there were some turnovers. The first couple of drives seemed okay, especially with a new quarterback who's a redshirt sophomore, Kyle Wickersham. I think it came down to turnovers. In interviewing the coach (Head Coach Russ Huesman) after the game, he said he sort of blamed the coaching staff, so there were sort of a number of different factors. Definitely not the best game they've ever played.”
Q: Do you expect Wickersham to use his legs against MSU since the Spartans tend to struggle against dual-threat quarterbacks?
A: “From what I got the sense of talking to coach Huesman after the game, he was just focusing on creating a good game plan for the team. That seemed to be something that was working with the QB runs and stuff like that in the first couple drives. So I think what was working, keep doing that. He said we're going to change a lot. I think also just making sure to limit turnovers will be a big thing. There was a drop on a punt and a couple interceptions, a couple fumbles—so I think just limiting that and then taking advantage of whatever weaknesses the Spartan defense would have.”
Q: What do you think are the strengths of this Spiders’ squad?
A: “I think defensively, we have a couple guys that are fifth year guys, so the defense definitely has some veteran leadership—two guys, in particular, Tristan Wheeler, he's a linebacker and then Marlem Louis, who's a defensive tackle. I think having that sort of veteran defense is helpful. I also think, like you said, being able to utilize that QB run. Again, it's tough having a young team. Finding a groove early on in the season is tough, but I think just building off momentum of last year, and I know a player said in the postgame this weekend that the team can't necessarily fall back on that. But I think building momentum for the program, just sort of finding an identity.”
Q: Richmond has defeated an FBS team in the past, do you think that that sort of a feat is possible to repeat this week?
A: “Having that playoff experience last year for the guys that are coming back I think is a big momentum builder. We played UVA in the first game of the season last year, so we definitely have some more recent experience. We didn't win that, but I think just just focusing on, regardless of the program, just coming out with a good game plan. Like coach said—just sort of doing one drive at a time and trying to try to fix errors from last week could give them a shot.”
Q: Score Prediction?
A: 31-10 MSU.