Hampton University played perhaps its most complete game of the season in shutting out Florida A&M 25-0 this weekend, but just 1,931 fans — nearly 15,000 short of Armstrong Stadium's capacity — were on hand to see it.
HU coach Donovan Rose blamed the Nor'easter that tore through Hampton Roads in the days before the game, the slumping economy and the fact that the Pirates, with their second head coach in as many seasons after Joe Taylor's December 2007 resignation, are still something of an unknown commodity.
"For whatever reason, even homecoming, I don't know how many folks were here," Rose said. "Eventually, hopefully I can get out in the community and be a part of that and get folks involved, the alumni. I know Coach Taylor had a TV show one time. Maybe I can get that going. People don't know me. They don't know anything about us."
In the Pirates' 21-9 homecoming loss to South Carolina State on Oct. 24, 5,492 fans were on hand. With one home game remaining on Saturday against Morgan State, HU's average attendance is 5,172, on pace to be its worst since 1989.
With the bulk of his defense and seven offensive starters set to return in 2010, Rose hopes to close the season with two straight wins and a buzz that will translate into a fuller stadium.
"People are probably hating themselves for missing (the Florida A&M game)," Rose said. "It had all the trimmings in there. It was a physical game."
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HU senior running back LaMarcus Coker seems assured of wrapping up the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rushing title. Coker is averaging 96.9 yards per game, ahead of Florida A&M quarterback Curtis Pulley (88.1), who didn't play in the second half after injuring his groin against the Pirates.
The Pirates are still FCS' most-penalized team, but Texas Southern isn't far behind. In 10 games, HU has drawn an average of 13 flags for 112.7 yards per game, while Texas Southern has been flagged an average of 12.67 times for 112.1 yards in nine games.
South Carolina State (9-1, 7-0 MEAC) wrapped up the conference title and accompanying playoff spot last week, and its dominance is evident across the statistical board. The Bulldogs lead the league in scoring offense (32.4 points per game), scoring defense (15.7), total offense (370 yards per game) and total defense (258).
185 Rushing yards per game Morgan State is allowing opponents.