Just like any athlete coming off a significant knee injury those first few moments back on the field, during a game for the first time can be nerve-racking. It usually will take some time to ease their way back into the action but that was not the case Sunday evening for Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson.
On Colorado’s second play from scrimmage Richardson found himself all alone in the Colorado State secondary with no defender within 20 yards of him. Quarterback Connor Wood had to avoid the rush and step up in the pocket but when he looked up there was No. 6 wide open and it resulted in an 82-yard touchdown. Richardson was just glad that Wood found him,
“I was just happy he threw it. When I saw (Wood) step forward I thought he was going to run but he picked his head up and made a real mature move looking down the field and made the play.”
It took exactly 45 seconds for Richardson to make an impact in his first game back after tearing his ACL during spring practices last year and his return is exactly what Colorado’s offense needed. By game’s end Richardson totaled ten receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns but just the threat of his presence makes a world of difference for the offense.
His speed opens up so many different options that Colorado was without last season and the offense struggled in his absence. The Buffs didn’t have a deep ball threat all last season so defenses were able to key on the underneath routes and effectively shut down any big plays. Now that Richardson is back, in a new up-tempo offense nonetheless, Colorado becomes more than two-dimensional and poses a greater threat to opposing defenses.
One player that is more than happy to see Richardson lined up out wide is Wood.
“It’s Christmas in September,” the junior joked during the postgame interviews. “It’s nice to have him back, I’ll tell you that.”
Richardson and Wood created a chemistry during the season last year that spanned into spring drills when both players had plenty of time on their hands to practice and take reps together. Richardson was rehabbing his injured knee while Wood was the backup just looking to throw at all and it resulted in a bond that was evident Sunday afternoon.
The long wait for Richardson finally ended and his 2013 return was a triumphant one. However, the junior was just happy to be apart of the battle once again.
“I’m so happy to be back on the field with my teammates. This is bigger than me having a couple hundred yards, this is for the team. All the things we have gone through this offseason with our program and we come out and get this victory, it means a lot.”