THE COACH

DONOVAN ROSE

(18-15 in 3 years, all at Hampton)

Give the man this: He is honest and forthcoming to a fault. He takes responsibility for the program's APR difficulties and postseason ban, and he said that he has a plan to rectify it. Toward that end, he said that he's finally getting a handle on this head coaching thing. He admitted that he wasn't always completely engaged in every facet of the job all the time. Now, however, the phrase he uses is "full-fledged" — as in, on top of everything, 24/7. He is secure enough in himself and his abilities to bring in assistants with their own systems and methods, but forceful enough to set the framework in which they operate. Few people are as familiar with the HU culture as Rose, an alum who spent 19 seasons as an assistant before becoming head coach. He knows what's necessary and believes that he can provide it.

THE STANDOUTS

ANTWON CHISHOLM

Jr. | 5-9 | 160 | RB

The Pirates' leading returning rusher (796 yds, 4.1 avg. 8 TDs) seems tailor-made for their new offense. He's tough, elusive, hard to track down in traffic because of his height, and he can catch the ball (29 receptions) — a big component of the Air Raid offense.

LYNDELL GIBSON

Sr. | 6-0 | 230 | LB

Second on the team in tackles last year (108, 52 solo) and led in tackles for loss with 14. Virginia Tech transfer is one of the leaders of a very good defense and an exceptional group of linebackers. Double-figure tackles against ODU, Norfolk State and Delaware State.

DELBERT TYLER

Jr. | 5-11 | 225 | LB

Led the Pirates in tackles last year (110, 41 solo) and was second-team All-MEAC — the only sophomore on either of the first two teams. Career-high 18 tackles versus Howard and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.

3 STORYLINES

MOTIVATION

Let's take a stab at Don Rose's season-long message to his players: Gentlemen, the NCAA ruled that we aren't eligible for the playoffs. The MEAC, our own conference, said that we aren't eligible for the league championship. Does that sting? You're damn right, it stings. But here's something that neither the NCAA or the MEAC can do: prevent us from winning games. If we do the things that we're capable of, we can win every one of our games. No one we play is better than we are. I'm not saying we're better than everybody we play or that we won't face adversity. But if we play hard and smart and win games, no one can take that away from us. Not the NCAA, not the MEAC, no one. If we play the way we can and have the kind of season I know we can have, all of you will be champions, regardless of what anyone says. Now, let's go to work. … It's not Churchill's "we shall fight on the beaches, … we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,…" or Belushi in "Animal House." But it's a start.

YELLOW FLAGS

The Pirates' 7-4 record last season was all the more remarkable, considering how much yardage they gave away in penalties. They were flagged for a staggering 1,266 yards in penalties — an average of 115.1 yards per game and dead last in FCS. They committed 487 more yards in penalties than their opponents. HU averaged 13.4 penalties per game. Consider that William and Mary committed 40 penalties for 330 yards the entire season. Among the lowlights were 20 penalties for 197 yards against Morgan State, 21 for 166 yards against N.C. Central and 20 for 147 yards against Florida A&M. Penalties are often a result of discipline and fatigue. Rose said that he addressed both areas in the offseason and will do so in summer camp and during the year. He said that he has tweaked recruiting and has begun to target more high-character prospects. He said that players will be held accountable. Those who routinely commit penalties, he said, simply won't play, regardless of who they are.

CALLING THE SHOTS