Sports

During a press conference on the last day of the Spiders’ training camp, first-year head coach Russ Huesman relied on two words to define his team: confident and experienced. But he also had a concern.

“The scary part for me that I think about all the time is how are they going to react” to new coaches when the games start, he said. “I think we’ve got playmakers. I think we’ve got good players. ... How are they going to adjust to us during a game, both offensively and defensively?”

Huesman knows firsthand that the Spiders have a history of adjusting in ways that bring success. Before his eight years as head coach at UT-Chattanooga, he helped coach Richmond to the 2008 FCS national championship as the Spiders’ defensive coordinator. Among the players he coached then were Lawrence Sidbury Jr., ’09, and Justin Rogers, ’11, who both became NFL veterans.

“Coach Huesman’s a no-nonsense guy, but he’s great to his players,” senior quarterback Kyle Lauletta said as the season was about to get underway. “He’s very honest with you. He’ll tell you how it is.”

The players say they welcome the experience and mindset that Huesman brings.

“He’s got a very refined way of doing things, and it’s led to success,” said Tafon Mainsah, a senior defensive back. “He’s won the national championship, so he knows what he’s doing.”

Being Richmond’s head coach will be a different experience than defensive coordinator, Huesman said, but he added that his famliarity with Richmond helped his decision to return.

“I knew a lot of the people that were still here,” Huesman said. “I knew the academic component. It was a place I was familiar with, and [that] made it an opportunity to say, ‘Yes, that’s a place that I want to go back and coach at.’”