Entering the 2019 season, the defense was going to have to rely on a handful of veterans to help lead the way. Redshirt junior Max Richardson was one of these players.
Richardson did not disappoint. It was just too bad this young unit never really gelled, allowing 31.7 points and just over 480 yards per game.
Richardson leads the team with 108 tackles in 2019. He has 3.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.
There were moments in the first-half of the season in which Richardson had trouble in pass coverage. He was asked to do a lot more as this young secondary learned. As the season went on, Richardson improved in this area.
Noticeably, his tackles went down as teams started accounting for him more and more. Richardson had five games with 10 tackles or more, though not since the game against N.C. State, where he had 10.
The return of Isaiah McDuffie has taken some of the pressure off of Richardson. Expect both to be active against Cincinnati, especially with the balanced attack the Bearcats produce. Anchoring the middle of the defense, Richardson has already had an outstanding defense. A final 10+ tackle performance by Richardson, with maybe a sack and turnover to boot, will be a nice ending for this at-times frustrating season.
As will a victory, lucky number 7 and the foundation of what is hopefully a bright future.