Richardson Not Surprised By QB's Debut

Last Friday night Kyle Richardson was coaching Rock Hill Northwestern in as competitive a high school playoff game as you could imagine. In the South Carolina high school playoffs against fellow powerhouse Byrnes, the Trojans of Northwestern saw an injured deep snapper lead Byrnes to trying and making a two-point conversion in the first overtime to win 37-36. That's a gut wrencher!

The next night Richardson, who last year coached current Oklahoma State freshman starting quarterback Mason Rudolph to a South Carolina Class 4A state championship, was in front of his television and excited to watch Rudolph, one of three Northwestern signal callers to go on to play quarterback in college, make his debut at Baylor.

"It was obviously a difficult situation with the weather being a factor, hostile environment, and then on the road against a top-10 opponent," Richardson said in an interview with Triple Play Sports Radio on the Robert Allen and Friends show. "You throw all that into your first career start and there was a lot going against him.

"I thought he played well and handled it the best way he could. Once he got out there and realized it was 22 guys playing football between white lines you could see some of the potential that is there. He made some plays and they were driving at the end and had a chance to make a one score game. He made a mistake there (interception) but he will learn from it and get better. I'm excited for what the future holds for him."

One of the plays that got the attention of a large number of Cowboys fans was that interception that Richardson mentioned above. On the play, Rudolph may have stared down his receiver and missed the fullback in the open in front of him, but despite being knocked down after the throw he got up and made the tackle.

"Unfortunately, he threw some picks while he was in high school and that is one of the things we taught him to try to get the ball back," Richardson explained. "He is aggressive and one of the things that I had to teach him when he first started playing quarterback was not to play quarterback like he was playing linebacker. He loves to hit and he loves the weight room and he is a very physical kid. He's looking for people to hit. I think you saw a little bit of that."

Richardson actually spotted Rudolph getting into the physicality of playing earlier in the game.

"A previous drive before that where I saw him get his confidence up, he handed the ball off and the running back went around the end," Richardson said setting up his point. "There was a lineman, number 75 for Baylor just standing out there and Mason goes out there and hits him.

"Obviously, (number) 75 was not expecting for the quarterback to come out and get a shot on him. After that I thought he settled down and started playing football. You don't want your quarterback out there hitting and soliciting hits, but on the flip side you sure want him to compete."

The physical part of it is there but it appeared Rudolph and his mobility and athleticism helped the entire offense and especially a challenged offensive line.

"He is definitely a big kid and he can sit in the pocket and take some shots and still find a way to deliver the football," the very successful coach added. "He is athletic too and he can get out on the edge and hurt you."

Richardson was aware, like some of us, of something that Rudolph was not. His parents had watched his younger brother play the night before in the Northwestern playoff loss in overtime. Mason's brother is a starting receiver at Northwestern. Then Brett and Jamie Rudolph left early Saturday morning to get to Waco.

"He played the whole game not knowing they were in the stadium and then going through the tunnel after the game he saw them," Richardson said. "After our game on Friday night they got on a plane early and flew to Dallas and then drove to Waco. They got there just in time for the rain. That was their first big-time experience of seeing him on the field playing big-time college football. They were pretty fired up about it."

Richardson is confident that Rudolph, with the hurdle of that first start behind him, will learn from mistakes and use practice to rapidly ramp up his game. He knows that while he had hoped his former player could have kept the redshirt, Rudolph is very excited about playing.

"I think now it is a matter of him playing and there is not the redshirt hanging over his head," Richardson said. "I really thought the most impressive thing is that how mentally prepared he was to play the game under the circumstances in that it was week 10. He is a kid that doesn't get too high or get too low.

"No offense to the media but he is not going to listen much to what people are saying. He is going to work hard mentally and physically and try to find a way to get a win at Oklahoma and go into a bowl game and get another month of practice."

That would be a real picture perfect ending, no doubt about that.

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