Jerry Holmes isn't satisfied.
Not with Hampton's 6-5 record in his first season as head coach. Not with a team that was 5-1 before losing four straight games and its focus. And not with some of his assistant coaches, many of them holdovers from former Pirates coach Joe Taylor's staff.
"If I had to do it again, I still would give those guys an opportunity to try to prove themselves, but now, Year 2 is gonna be what I want," Holmes said. "I'm not a 6-5 kind of guy."
Holmes wouldn't specify any planned coaching changes, but clearly was unhappy with the Pirates' offensive imbalance. Hampton averaged 247 passing yards per game but just 106 on the ground.
That changed in Saturday's season finale, when the Pirates snapped a four-game losing streak with a 17-13 win at Morgan State. The Pirates attempted just seven passes but ran for 124 yards against a defense that had been giving up only 92 per game.
"I kind of put my foot down and said, 'We're gonna run the ball this last game,' " Holmes said. "Maybe we should have been concentrating on what the guys could do best. You've got a bunch of wide receivers that have some speed, you've got a quarterback that can throw the ball, (but) then you find out that it wasn't working. You gotta then make the adjustment to go to something new."
The play-calling duties were the responsibility of second-year offensive coordinator Corey Sullivan, a 2002 graduate of Tennessee State who also has coached wide receivers for four seasons. Other key members of Holmes' offensive staff include first-year running-backs coach Milo Austin and second-year quarterbacks coach Roy Johnson.
"When Coach Taylor was here, he always had some coaches here that would make sure that the younger coaches and the other coaches did what they were supposed to do," said Holmes, HU's defensive coordinator from 2004-07.
"We were together, a lot of the coaches, before we won those three (MEAC) championships in a row (from '04-06), and I expected that same type of drive and commitment to the program."
Hampton athletic director Lonza Hardy said that Holmes will meet with his assistants during the next week, then "put together recommendations" that Hardy will take to HU president William Harvey. The three men will decide on any changes together, Hardy said.
"The potential is there for this football team to get back to its standard championship ways in a really short amount of time," Hardy said. "(Holmes) knows what it takes. He's got the program refocused on the path that we want it to go."
There are other issues for Holmes to address in the off-season. Although he led Hampton with 137 yards against Morgan State, sophomore running back Dennis Mathis was benched for two games because of missed practices.
Senior wide receiver Jeremy Gilchrist wasn't around for much of his last game after being ejected when officials said he spit on a Morgan State player, and center Ryan Cave was suspended for a game after throwing a punch during an Oct. 25 loss at South Carolina State — the first of four defeats in a row for the Pirates.
"We lost a couple of those games before we actually went on the field, with some of the things you try to get the student-athletes to do to position themselves during the week to be successful on Saturday," Holmes said.
"A lot of times that didn't take place. We're going to do some things differently (next) year. We're going to make some changes."
Expected back next season will be several of the Division I-A transfers who shored up Hampton's defense, including junior end Chris Baker and sophomore tackle Kendrick Ellis. And Holmes is excited about the looming quarterback competition between Herb Bynes, who set HU's single-season passing record of 2,713 yards as a sophomore, and the QB whose record he broke, T.J. Mitchell, who was academically ineligible this year but is expected to return.
The Pirates, who battled injuries on the offensive line and in the secondary, also should return talent at wide receiver in Damon McDaniel and Reggie Dixon and at running back in LaMarcus Coker, a Tennessee transfer who led Hampton with 622 rushing yards as a junior.
This winter will be spent finding out how to best use those weapons.
"I'm not gonna clean all the rooms in the house, but I'm gonna get a couple of them clean," Holmes said.
Pirates by the numbers 6-5Hampton's record in 200890.5Penalty yards per game111Tackles by Wakeem GoodeCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun