Hampton University head football coach Robert Prunty will have the luxury of returning eight offensive starters from last year’s squad.
The Pirates are also entering their third season in offensive coordinator Zack Patterson’s system, something that will allow the offense to be more flexible.
“Now they’re veterans and they have I think a better understanding,” Patterson said. “We’re able to hone in on ‘this is what this guy does well,’ and so we’re able to cater the offense to the things that we do well as opposed to just running certain plays.”
Having that fluidity of returning several players in a consistent offensive system is exactly the continuity that the Pirates are looking for.
“Those guys have played together, they understand each other,” Prunty said. “That’s always when you get that continuity. You get guys working together (and) they’ve been doing it for a while …they’re getting that comfortability with each other.”
Just over half of those returning starters come at what Patterson said was arguably the most crucial position on the field in the Coastal Athletic Association: the offensive line.
“That was one of the things last year — we didn’t feel like we had a ton of depth up front,” Patterson said. “In the CAA, you got to be good on the O- and D-lines. We played a lot of young guys who were getting their first game experience, guys that were really battling for us, and now they’re a year better.”
J’Cori Shaw, Devaughn Orr, Tyler McDuffie, Quinton Ragland and Brandon Hardy make up the group of five Pirates returning on the offensive line.
“Bringing back a core of the offensive line that have played a lot of football for us, it just makes things a lot smoother,” Patterson said. “Those guys are what gets us going. If we can’t handle things up front,…