Winless Howard University, desperately looking for a remedy for its offensive and defensive ills, may find it today when it faces a mirror image of itself in woeful Delaware State (0-4) at Howard Stadium.
The 1:30 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game pits two teams that have been generous on defense and have showed little on offense.
Off to its worst start in 15 years, Howard (0-3) has shown some signs of life but the move has been too slow for Coach Doug Porter.
"We have not had a consistent effort from our defensive players. One week, someone will play well, and another week, someone else will," said Porter. "We need a big game out of our front four, especially.
"The defense can't continuously stay on the field. We have to get some drives going on offense. Use the clock."
In the quarterback shuffle, Brian Thomas, who relieved starter Ronald Thomas in Howard's 28-7 loss to Florida A&M last week, completed eight of 11 passes for 132 yards to regain the starting position.
"He (Thomas) came in and rallied the club. He led us to our only touchdown and played very well," said Porter.
If Howard can get another good performance from Thomas, the Bison should be able to exploit the Hornets' defense. DSU's defensive unit has been burned for a total of 1,523 yards, or an average of 380.7 yards per game. The rushing defense has been especially weak, allowing 253 yards per game.
"Their defense is not that bad.They've been hurt by big plays," said Porter. "They've been having offensive problems, too. We've got to score on them early."
The Bison has not had much success scoring early or late. They scored three times in losing to Maryland-Eastern Shore, 23-21, but were shut out by South Carolina State, 27-0, and held to one score by FAMU.
"Realistically, we should be 1-2 but then the jury is still out on UMES. They are beating people and have really improved," said Porter. "SCS and FAMU are behind us and we don't play anyone else the caliber of those two teams.
Howard has had to rely on passing since its rushing attack has gained only a net 230 yards in three games. The Bison had only 82 yards on the ground in their last two outings.
Howard appears to have solved at least one of its big problems - penalties. Only three flags were thrown against the Bison last week bu the offensive line still had a problem creating dayligh for the runners.
Howard's defense, led by James Graham and Scott Facyson, must contend with the Andre Brown-to-DeCosta Brown passing combination. Split end Brown has grabbed 19 of quarterback Brown's 32 completions for 222 yards. Baron Harmon is the Hornets' leading rusher with 150 yards on 37 attempts.
Delaware State, which has given up 119 points, usually plays Howard tough. The Hornets hold a 16-15-1 series edge. DSU won last year's game, 18-0.