Robert Sellers might make a good lawyer. When asked yesterday if Howard's defense is as poor as the statistics would indicate, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker paused briefly before rattling off many reasons to justify why the Bison (2-4) have given up 2,185 yards and 197 points in six games.

"Just look at the Delaware game. You take away a couple of freak plays, like that 74-yard run by that Delaware back on the final play of the first half, and that Hail Mary touchdown pass when the referee got in the way of the pass rush, and the stats would tell a different story," sophomore Sellers said.

"Even in those two bad games (in which South Carolina State and Florida A & M outscored the Bison, 112-3), our defense didn't play that bad. Of course, when you look at the score, it's tough to convince people of that. We've improved each week and we're going for our first shutout this week."

Two reasons Howard's defense should continue to improve are Sellers, the Bison's most consistent defensive player this year, and because the softer part of the schedule begins Saturday against Virginia State (1-4) in Petersburg.

"We couldn't play without him," said the Bison defensive coordinator, Joe Taylor, of Sellers. "Not only is he physical and aggressive, but he's such an intelligent player. He's played well from the first play of the Maine game (Howard lost, 38-15). I'd say Doug Jones is the defensive team leader, but Sellers is the guy who's always going to do the job. I'm sure the fellows feel better when he's out there."

It isn't easy to find heroes on a defensive team that has been burned as badly as Howard. But Sellers, with 35 first hits, tackle Ron Kinnaird (34) and Jones, the MEAC player of the week for his play in the 22-14 victory over Delaware State, have not embarrassed themselves.

Quarterback Sandy Nichols, who started the second half and led the Bison over Delaware State, said his right shoulder is improved and hopes to start against Virginia State.

"No pain at all, not a twinge," said Nichols. "We should be ready to put everything together now."

Coach Floyd Keith said fullback Jeff Owens (broken thumb) and linebacker Martin Brown (injured knee) have been red-shirted . . . Tailback Melvin Sutton (shoulder separation) and defensive end Charles Scott (bruised shoulder) are questionable for Saturday.