While Herb Bynes watched, he learned.
Bynes, Hampton University's junior quarterback, missed most of the Pirates' first two games after seriously injuring his ankle in a spring scrimmage. He didn't enjoy standing on the sideline, but he made use of his time.
"It gave me a different perspective on how to be more of a team leader, how to be able to put my team on my back and manage the game," Bynes said. "You become a coach on the sidelines. You call out the fronts and call out the defense, you call out (coverages). You start to pick up on tendencies, who has what leverage. … I see the field in a whole different way now."
Bynes, who threw for a school-record 2,713 yards in his first season as a starter last year, returned to the field in the Pirates' 24-14 win at North Carolina A&T last weekend. He completed 11 of 20 passes for 208 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions as Hampton notched a victory in its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game.
"I was excited," Bynes said. "It took me a while to find my rhythm, but once I found my rhythm, it was back to pitch and catch."
Bynes, who said he was pain-free against the Aggies, twice hooked up with Damon McDaniel in the end zone, finding his leading receiver (nine catches for 199 yards) on a 62-yard TD pass and again on a 23-yarder that put Hampton ahead to stay with 26 seconds left in the first half.
"What Herb brings is maturity," HU coach Donovan Rose said. "It's almost like a sense of ownership. The players know that, first of all, he's a good person with great character, and he's a gamer. He's shown that he can make plays. I think the players' confidence level went up, (and) they were energized."
Brandon Roundtree — the MEAC defensive player of the week after recording six tackles, including 21/2 sacks, and two interceptions — said having Bynes back in the pocket relieved the pressure on the Pirates' defense.
"We had more experience back there," Roundtree said.
Backup QB David Legree, a transfer from Syracuse, performed capably enough in Bynes' absence, completing 20 of 42 passes for 330 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in two games.
"Herb, I know it was eating him up to sit on the sideline watching, but it was good that Legree had a chance to do that," Rose said. " … I think we've got two solid quarterbacks."
To keep them healthy, though, the Pirates will need to cut down on the 15 sacks they've surrendered in three games. Against the Aggies, with center Ryan Cave moved to right guard because of a bruised hand and Davion Wright handling snapping duties for the first time, Bynes was sacked four times.
"It's just the timing with the quarterbacks and the receivers and the running backs," Rose said. "When people see sacks, they think it's the O-line. A lot of times, receivers have to learn how to adjust. If it's a hot read or something, they have to adjust their route. All of that goes into play. We concentrate on that, and they've been working on that. … Herb is a guy that pays attention to detail, so I expect us to decrease that number."
Also emphasized in the Pirates' practices is the meaning of the red jersey the quarterback wears. Rose doesn't care to watch his own players knock out their starting quarterback again.
"(On Tuesday), one of the guys on defense was eager, and he came in and wanted to kind of touch the quarterback," Rose said. "I don't want them to touch the quarterback in practice. We kind of let them know after that."
Storylines PENALTY PROBLEMS
HU's 36 penalties for 324 yards aren't sitting well with the highly organized Rose. It's a safe bet this week's practices will include extra running. "We're stressing it, but I don't want them to not be aggressive," Rose said.
The Pirates' three leading tacklers are linebackers. Julio Sanchez leads the Pirates with 25, followed by Roundtree (18), a senior. Redshirt junior Brandon Peguese has 17.
Hampton (2-1, 1-0 MEAC) returns home to face Delaware State (0-2, 0-1), coming off a 27-17 loss at Delaware. The Hornets, led by Anthony Glaud's 198 passing yards per game, dropped their opener at Florida A&M, 21-12.
97.7 Average rushing yards per game for Pirates running back LaMarcus Coker, who averaged 69 last season.
Saturday's game WHO: Delaware State (0-2, 0-1 MEAC) at Hampton (2-1, 1-0).
WHEN: 6 p.m.
On Page 3 • Melinda Waldrop breaks down CNU, ODU and W&M.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun