Q & A Russ Richardson Part 1

Russ Richardson was a key contributor to last year's team as a true freshman. Now he has bulked up from 235 to 270, giving him the strength he needs to attack opposing offensive linemen. Richardson discusses his improvement, the defense's improvement and which players he expects to have breakout seasons next year.

What is the defense working on right now in practice to improve for next season?

Every day in our meetings Coach Kish asks us this exact same question. What is our main objective for the spring and its stop the run, stop the run, stop the run. So that's our number one objective; that's what we are working on right now.

So what techniques are you working on to better stop the run?

We're just working on everyone doing their exact assignment. The way our defense works, everyone has their assignment, their hole and if one guys messes up it leaves a hole in the defense and they're able to run through it. So if everyone does their assignment and covers their gap then it's like a net and there is no way the runner can get through it.

What are you personally working on in practice right now?

Last year I weighed 235, 245 during a lot of the games. Now I'm right under 270 so I'm about 270 and so that specifically I got work on my double teams, just fighting and getting a lot of up field pressure. So I can tell already that I'm going to have a lot more [strength]. Last year I was just holding my ground and trying to not get killed. Now I feel like I've gotten a ton stronger with the new strength coach, and I'm just working on getting a lot more pressure and causing havoc in the backfield.

Are there any defensive players you expect to have breakout seasons next year?

Yeah my roommate Kyle Killion. He played really well last year as a true freshman and the games he was in he was hurt a lot. He's going to be our main man in the middle, the linebacker. I think he's really going to break out this year. I also think that we'll have great safety play with Joe back from his injury and Hernandez moving back to where he originally was. Last year he played line backer. I think Kyle Killion is going to break out and also at defensive end Kenny Kendal is going to have a good year. But definitely Kyle Killion.

What aspects of the game do you think next year's team will improve upon this year's team?

Definitely think that on offense, running the ball, and defense is like I said every day coach asks us what's our main objective and we say stop the run. I think in our conference you have to run the ball and stop the run. That's one of the best things you can do and we didn't do the best job of it last year, but we're working on it.

Joe Gonzalez has been known as a player who really gets players pumped for games. Is there anyone in particular who does a good job of helping motivate you for games?

Oh yeah definitely. Chris Dielman. He was the leader of our defensive line, the leader of our defense, the leader of our team. He's huge, and he's just a great guy as far as getting me motivated. Not necessarily on the field. I can get motivated on the field. If you can't get yourself motivated on the field you shouldn't be playing football, but in terms of just staying motivated with everything. Last year my best three games were the last three games in terms of individual play and a lot of that was due because I was really, really bad homesick the first three quarters of the season coming from so far away and just being away from family and stuff. But once I got over that; he helped me get over that, Chris Dielman did, I started playing great. But, he's just a great motivator and I think he's going to have a great career down the road.

You're from Phoenix, what differences do you notice between football out west versus Midwestern football?

The Pac Ten seems to be a little more run and gun. Like see who can score the most points, throw the ball the furthest down the field. Just air it out. The Big Ten is real. There's a lot of guys who throw the ball a lot in the Big Ten, but it's known as being a man's conference where we run the ball, we stop the run. It's a power conference. A lot of guys are a lot more into power football in the Big Ten and the Midwest than they are out west where it's a little more finesse.

Who do you see taking a leadership role on next year's team?

Definitely, Joe Gonzalez. He's coming back for his fifth year because of his hernia last year. He's a very smart person, very level-headed, not only on the field but off the field too. He gets along great with everyone on the team, and everyone respects him. He would have been a leader and was a leader last year, up until he dropped off because of his injury because he wasn't out on the field as much. But no doubt Joe Gonzalez will be our main man out on the field next year in terms of a leader.

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