David Richard had waited almost two years for this.
After a strong true freshman season as a tailback at Michigan State, Richard, a St. Louis native, returned to his home state, where he has become an key figure at linebacker for the restructured Missouri defense. Richard is still learning the position, but his coaches believe he has the speed and athleticism to be an impact player with the Tigers.
All of that was background noise Saturday. Richard was just happy to be on the field, wearing the colors of his home state in a game that mattered for the first time. InsideMizzou spoke with Richard this week; read on for his thoughts on the atmosphere at Missouri football games and the struggles the defense had against Arkansas State.
On playing in his home state for the first time: "It felt good. Running out the tunnel, (I experienced) a feeling that I always wanted to unleash. It felt good going out there, and also getting the victory."
On any nerves in his first college game in 21 months: "The game atmosphere is something I'm accustomed to. Being on the defensive side of the ball was just something that was new. There was no jitterbugs, none at all. We were just ready to get out there and get the victory."
On the Memorial Stadium atmosphere Saturday: "I love our crowd. Our students, they get rowdy down there. We've got great fans and get great support while we're out there in battle."
On whether scheme or game plan issues were a problem against the Indians: "No, we just gotta work. It was all probably errors on ourselves, that we brought up. We just gotta practice harder this week and make sure we execute on the plays that coach calls for us.
On continuing to improve defensively: "You can always improve. That's what we want to do, week by week, just continue to get better. Even if we have a game where we get a shut out, there's still something in that game we can make a lot better. That's what we try to do."
On his thoughts on Troy: "They're a very good team, no doubt about it. They have a good quarterback, but besides all that, we just gotta come out with the plan coach Pinkel gives us and execute it throughout the game and we'll be fine."
On Troy quarterback Aaron Leak: "Whatever quarterback we face, we should be very prepared for it because of the work that we do with (junior QB) Brad (Smith) in practice."
On missing the NFL opener because of the Troy game: "I think we're gonna try to get to most of the viewers to watch our game, as much as possible. We're ready to go."