CU-Boulder wide receiver Paul Richardson may enjoy running as much as Forrest Gump.
The guy is fast — no, the guy is really fast.
Coming into the Rocky Mountain Showdown, CSU head coach Jim McElwain had repeatedly commented on Richardson’s speed, making a point to iterate it multiple times. According to him, Richardson was the quickest guy he’d seen, including his years spent with a national champion Alabama team.
That speed served as the kryptonite to the CSU defense on Sunday, and ultimately the driving force that carried the Buffs past the Rams in the most important football game of the year.
Richardson missed the entire 2012 season with an ACL injury and after one game into his return, it was CSU who had missed missing him. He went back to work immediately, making up for lost time. On CU’s second play of the season, he sprinted 82 yards into the end zone as if it were a track meet, despite the fact that no other player was within 20 yards of him.
And Richardson wasn’t the only one who returned from the offseason looking like a completely different player. His partner in crime was Connor Wood, the quarterback who floated the long-ball to him all game long. Wood ended the game with 400 passing yards (no typo, 400), only nine short of Kordell Stewart’s school record.
Without a doubt, Richardson was Wood’s favorite target being that their connection accounted for more than half of those 400 yards. That chemistry Wood referred to as Christmas in September.
Sure there were other factors that went into the Rams’ season-opening loss, but there were many reasons that helped draw the conclusion that McElwain’s pregame concerns about Richardson to be the most accurate.
As he addressed the media in the postgame conference, dressed in a t-shirt and sweatpants, we got to see what the guy looked like without his pads on. Standing at six foot-one and 170 pounds, Richardson’s figure resembled more of a Usain Bolt look than that of a Division I football player.
The Rams caught on to the Batman and Robin relationship between Richardson and Wood, shifting coverage over accordingly. There were multiple balls thrown that could have racked up the two’s stats even greater that CSU succeeded with knocking down. But on the occurrences when the pigskin did fall into Richardson’s hands, it was detrimental to CSU.
“Coach joked a couple weeks ago about guys that when the going gets tough, they don’t want the play to come their way,” Richardson said. “My soul was burning for the ball to come my way. I wanted to be the guy who helped us pull away from that team.”
Well kudos to you, P-Rich. You were that guy.
Two throws from Wood was all it took for Richardson to scoop up 157 yards and both of the touchdowns that broke CSU down mentally.
When playing on a neutral site like Sports Authority Field, where each team has a significant amount of fan support, momentum is everything. All it takes is a little bit of progression to hear your half of the stadium at your back.
The conversion of those two passes alone were enough to get the gold shirts on their feet and the sea of green on the east side of the stadium quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
Richardson silenced CSU, and fueled the Buffalo fire.