Virginia freshman tailback Clifton Richardson received half his carries Saturday at Indiana during the Cavaliers’ 15-play penultimate offensive series, which concluded with a game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion. Richardson wasn’t involved in either of the two scoring plays on that drive, but he did his part in setting them up.
On first and 10 from the Indiana 41-yard line, Richardson gained six yards. Seven plays later, on first and 10 from the Indiana 15, Richardson rushed for a 12-yard gain. Junior tailback Perry Jones plunged into the end zone on the next play.
Richardson’s other two carries Saturday came early in the second quarter on consecutive plays. He gained 20 yards on one of them and three yards on the other. So on the night, Richardson averaged 10.2 yards per carry, and that’s not bad at all.
Sure, Richardson’s opportunities to carry the ball have been limited through two games. Jones and redshirt freshman Kevin Parks have received the majority of the carries for the Cavaliers, and that doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future unless the injury Parks suffered Saturday is more serious than Coach Mike London is letting on.
But London did acknowledge Monday that Richardson’s performance has caught the coaches’ attention and that Richardson will start to get at least a few more touches in upcoming games. On the season, Richardson – who at 6 feet and 215 pounds is considerably larger than Virginia’s other tailback options – has rushed 11 times for 98 yards and a touchdown. That’s 8.9 yards per carry.
Richardson “is getting there,” London said Monday. “Clifton is a work in progress, so he’ll start to see more carries, more opportunities to get in the game. He provides another type of back – the big back that can run – and we need to get him in the game. We will get him more involved in the game plan.
“He doesn’t know the whole offense, but just like some of these other younger guys, they’re learning as we go along. And now it’s time for us to accelerate his opportunities to touch the ball.”