Friday, August 5, 2011

Hampton University Football Preview

Old Dominion hosts Hampton Roads rival Hampton University on Saturday, September 17, to complete the Monarchs' OOC schedule.  I've already previewed Campbell and Georgia State, so soon I'll get to the CAA portion of the schedule. 

I attended Old Dominion in the mid-to-late '90's, graduating in 2001.  Unfortuatenly that coincided with the Jeff Capel years in men's basketball.  The Capable Coach Capel did well with the players Oliver Purnell left him but he couldn't keep the momentum going with his own recruits.  I bring this up because one year I witnessed a Hampton basketball team play at the old Fieldhouse and whup up the Monarchs.  So when I think of Hampton University, that's the lone memory.

A loss to the Hampton Pirates basketball team was one of many lowlights for the Monarchs during the Jeff Capel years.  He's a good man and a good coach, but it didn't work out for him in Norfolk.

Football History
Hampton University played its first football game in 1902, giving the program more than 100 years of the sport.  The Pirates have been members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) since 1995; for most of the rest of its existence it was part of the CIAA.  Unlike ODU's two other OOC opponents, Hampton has hundreds of games experience with an all-time record of 532-382-35.  That ain't too bad, no matter the competition.

2010 Highlights
Hampton had a record of 5-2 heading into its showdown with Old Dominion last season (see below) but finished with an overall record of 6-5.  Junior quarterback David Legree, a former transfer from Syracuse, passed for almost 1,700 yards and accounted for eleven total touchdowns.  Freshman running back Antown Chisholm was named MEAC ROY and was Second Team All-MEAC after rushing for 607 yards and four touchdowns in ten games.

On defense the Pirates gave up only 23 touchdowns and surrendered 271 yards/game.  Kenrick Ellis graduated from Hampton and was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the NY Jets.  Along with Ellis, Hampton had two other defensive players on the 2010 All-MEAC First Team - DL Brandon Peguese and DB Ricardo Silva, JR. 

Ellis, drafted by the Jets, will have to suffer Mark Sanchez. (Photo credited to
History with Old Dominion
As Hampton has more than 100 seasons of football history, and this incarnation of Monarch football has two, the 2010 contest between the teams is the only one to discuss.  Old Dominion traveled across the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel in late October and shipwrecked the Pirates, 28-14.  Deron Mayo, currently in Denver Broncos camp, was credited with two blocked punts.  Without knowing Hampton had such a quality defensive line, I was initially surprised they held ODU to only 251 yards of offense.  I know better now.

2011 Outlook
The strength of the Pirates last year was their defense.  Giving up less than 70 yards per quarter over the course of a season is no small feat.  But replacing Ellis, Silva JR and Peguese (all of whom graduated) will be an even bigger challenge.  And unfortuatenly for the defense, the offense last year scored only one more touchdown (24) than the defense allowed (23). 

There should be natural improvement with the continuity of their starting quarterback and running back returning, but will it be enough to compensate for what the defense loses?  While Legree had decent numbers at QB, his career completion percentage is less than 50%.  I'd expect defenses to crowd the box to stuff Chisholm, forcing Legree to beat teams in through the air.  He hasn't been able to do that in two seasons with Hampton to date.

I Googled "8 men in the box football" for diagrams.  This was on the first page of image results.  Imagine if I hadn't included the word "football."

The MEAC coaches and SIDs think highly enough of Hampton to have voted them fourth in the preseason MEAC poll.  Chisholm and DB Micah Pellerin represent Hampton on the preseason MEAC First Team.  Still, a team with a senior QB and a Second Team running back behind him should be able to put points up on the board.  The question is, will they score enough?  It says here the defense lost too much talent from last season for Hampton to improve on its 2010 record of 6-5.

Similar to Campbell University, there is not much in the way of message board information on the Pirates.  At the time of this post no official media guide has been published.  Without message board fodder or a media guide, my analysis is somewhat limited.  But I do know that it's difficult for programs to lose three First Team Conference players on defense and get better the following season.  The Pirates are the most complete, accomplished OOC team the Monarchs face this season, but I still expect ODU to wrap up its third consecutive win before heading to Delaware to open its CAA schedule.  Regardless of the outcome, I hope the rivalry continues over the years; it's good to have local rivalries.

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