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Five Questions: Hampton University
Pirates, coach again adjusting.
This week, the Daily Press takes a look at a few spring questions facing local and state football programs. Today, Hampton University.
1. Will new coach Donovan Rose improve on predecessor Jerry Holmes’ 6-5 record?
On paper, it’s possible. The Pirates have plenty of experience back on both sides of the ball and get 2008 MEAC champion South Carolina State at home. But HU got off to a quick 5-1 start in Holmes’ only season as head coach before losing four of its last five games in a head-scratching implosion.
2. How is Rose adjusting to his new job?
Rose, the Pirates’ defensive coordinator last season after 17 years as their secondary coach, ascended abruptly to the top job when Holmes and Hampton parted ways in January. A week into spring practice, he’s focusing on more details than ever before, monitoring players’ on- and off-field actions. “You put in a lot of time and you want to make sure that everything is right,” Rose said. “When you’re in this position and you see it — I don’t think, as a whole, coaches get enough credit, because they’re the ones that do all the work.”
3. Is Herb Bynes the man at QB?
Yes. T.J. Mitchell, who threw for 2,309 yards in 2007 but didn’t play last season after being ruled academically ineligible, is apparently out of the picture and isn’t participating in spring practice. “I don’t think he’s in school,” Rose said. “I haven’t seen him. Herb is the guy.” Bynes threw for 2,713 yards and 19 touchdowns last season as a sophomore.
4. What are the Pirates’ biggest strengths?
Though Hampton managed just 106 rushing yards per game last year, its backfield is stacked. LaMarcus Coker, who rushed for 622 yards last season after transferring from Tennessee, has shaken off a lingering ankle injury and recently ran a 4.17-second 40-yard dash on the track, Rose said. Also back is Dennis Mathis, another speedster who rushed for 338 yards as a sophomore.
5. What are their biggest concerns?
The Pirates must adapt to their second head coach in as many years and work out the chemistry issues that kept a talented offense from fulfilling its potential last season. They’ll also have to find a solid replacement for Chris Baker, who played just one season at defensive end after transferring from Penn State before declaring for the NFL draft, and the dangerous senior trio of wide receivers/kick returners Jeremy Gilchrist, Kevin Teel and Justin Brown, who combined for 1,796 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns.
Five questions: Hampton University
By Melinda Waldrop, The Hampton Road Daily Press (VA)