Elon football (4-2, 2-1) is taking on University of Richmond (3-4, 1-3) on Saturday, Oct. 20 during Inauguration Weekend in front of their home fans at Rhodes Stadium. The Phoenix is clocking in before the game at No. 11 in the nation in both the FCS Coaches Poll and the STATS FCS Top-25. Elon last week while on the road against the University of Delaware. This is Elon’s last game before playing three currently-ranked teams to close out the season.
History of the matchup
This will be the ninth matchup between the Phoenix and the Spiders, and the sixth meeting of the decade. Elon has only won once in these eight previous matchups, this win came last year. The win over then No. 6 Richmond was the first of six wins in the CAA for the Phoenix of the year. Elon downed the Spiders 36-33 in a back and forth battle on Elon’s home turf. Elon jumped out in front in the first half before the Spiders battled back in the second half, making the game one that came down to the last possession. This will be the first time ever that Elon has played Richmond while the Spiders are not ranked.
Scouting the Spiders
Richmond is not an opponent to be overlooked. The Spiders have had a rough start to their year. After starting with a road matchup with the Cavaliers of the University of Virginia, Richmond got two straight wins over Fordham and St. Francis while outscoring their opponents by a combined 87-34 to get back over the .500 mark on the season. However, Richmond hit a snag starting CAA play. Stony Brook University, James Madison University, and University of Delaware all handed the Spiders losses to slow the roll that Richmond was on. Richmond got back on track their last time out, topping a struggling University of Albany 27-24 on the road.
Richmond is outpaced by their opponents in every major statistical category, which most likely contributes to their down season. Senior running back Gordon Collins and junior running back Deontez Thompson have taken the majority of the runs for the Spiders this year, however, neither of them have have rushed for over 200 yards. Sophomore quarterback Joe Mancuso leads the team in rushing with just a tick over the 200 yard mark. To give this perspective, Elon senior running back Malcolm Summers has out rushed the three of them combined.
Quarterback Kevin Johnson started the season for the Spiders, but he missed the last two games due to a concussion. Johnson has scored seven total touchdowns on the season and has thrown for nearly 1,300 yards. Mancuso seems to be the favorite to start the game for Richmond after earning his first career college victory last week. Mancuso has thrown for 927 yards total in just his first two starts. Junior wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson has been the favorite target for both quarterbacks on the year. Simpson has hauled in 32 catches for 601 yards and five touchdowns in seven games started.
The Phoenix has two big injuries to deal with on Saturday. First, sophomore Davis Cheek went down in the loss against Delaware last week and is Cheek earned the starting job last year and has stepped into the leadership role while competing on the field. Cheek had a great season, completing 65 percent of his passes, throwing for over 1000 yards and five touchdowns.
Stepping in to replace Cheek is the man he beat out for the starting job, sophomore Jalen Greene. Greene has seen action in five games this year, mostly in short-yardage running situations. Greene’s presence will most likely lead to more running from the quarterback position, which may put more stress on the offensive line.
The running game will not only be impacted by Greene, but also by the absence of Malcolm Summers. The senior running back was noticeably missing in the loss to the Blue Hens. After warming up with the team, and going through normal pregame routines, Summers did not get a single snap, even though he was dressed for the first half. It seems as though the problems began at the end of the JMU game the week prior when he re-aggravated a hamstring injury that shortened his season last year. It is uncertain just how much Summers will see of the field on Saturday. Even if he is able to make it onto the field, it is uncertain how effective Summers will be, or how long he will be able to play. Summers may be able to take some pressure off of Greene to run if he is able to play, but his absence could put too much of a load on the back of the quarterback getting his first start of the season.