Richardson muffed a punt in Game 1 vs. Western Kentucky, then was tackled in the end zone trying to return a punt that bounded past him in Game 2 vs. UCLA. The latter would've cost Tennessee a safety except that the ball went into the end zone on its own momentum.
"Actually, I didn't know I was in the end zone until I looked down and I seen the checkerboard," Richardson recalled this week. "Then I thought, 'Hmmm, that was a bad decision on my part.'"
Head coach Lane Kiffin made that point abundantly clear moments later as Richardson trotted off the field.
"Once I came to the sideline I held my head down," the freshman recalled, "and I was ready to take it like a man."
Richardson muffed a punt in each the last two preseason scrimmages and in Game 1. He looked shaky each time but says he feels much more relaxed fielding punts now.
"Most definitely," the 5-10, 165-pounder said. "I feel real comfortable when the ball is in the air. I know I can get it and make something happen."
Head coach Lane Kiffin thinks so, too. That's why he's sticking with the speedy freshman.
"We've got to do a better job blocking for him," Kiffin said. "We've been very close. It's the same old story: We're one block away from hitting the big one, where we can really see his speed and really see him run.
"We're excited about him this week."
Excited in a positive way, preferably.