Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Who's Paul Palmer?"

The question was posed to a young Bernard Pierce in the locker room at Lincoln Financial Field a couple of weeks ago.

"Dude, do you realize you have a chance to break Paul Palmer's records?"
"Who's Paul Palmer?" Pierce said.
What some longtime Temple fans might see as blasphemy was really an innocent remark that illustrated, more than anything else, how young Bernard Pierce is.
The true freshman wasn't even born yet when the kid known as Boo-Boo was in a heated battle with Vinny Testaverde for the 1986 Heisman Trophy.

On Halloween, Bernard Pierce came dressed up as Paul Palmer.
Chances are, Pierce will get to know Boo-Boo well in the coming months and years as each record Palmer set falls.
Temple beats Villanova by AT LEAST 20 points with this sure-handed young superstar getting 20 or more carries, rather than the six he had in the opener.
You'd have to be Stevie Wonder not to see that.
Today, Pierce rushed for 267 yards and two spectacular touchdowns as the Owls overcame an anemic passing attack to beat Navy, 27-24, otherwise known as the best team on their schedule not named Penn State. He did a good impersonation of Paul Palmer on Halloween, becoming the first Owl runner since Boo-Boo to rush for over 200 yards in consecutive games.

Numbers don't lie
Bernard Pierce:
29 carries
267 yards
2 touchdowns
Vaughn Charlton:
5 for 17
37 yards
0 touchdowns
2 interceptions
The fact that the Owls could not throw the ball and hit open receivers (check the film, they were running open through the Navy secondary all day) only makes what Pierce did all that more impressive.
As the game went on, Navy's defense loaded up in the box to stop Pierce.
Didn't matter.
He was too quick, too strong, too fast.
The Owls' offensive line, which averages 310 pounds across the front, also deserves a lot of credit. They knocked Navy off the ball like bowling pins. There is a photo accompanying this story that shows Pierce running through a hole and the Temple line knocking Navy off the ball in the background.
There is still much work to be done for this Owls' team to reach its potential.
The passing game, which really has alternated between bad and worse (today was worse), needs to be fixed.
I've been saying that for eight weeks, but no one wants to fix it.
It's tempting to say leave well enough alone, but I won't join that crowd.
Why not make something real good better, if you can? Why not play off Pierce's runs by throwing touchdown passes to James Nixon, Michael Campbell, Steve Manieri and Evan Rodriguez?
Those guys are doing their jobs by getting open, just like Pierce does his job by punishing linebackers and running past safeties.
You've got to be able to get someone in there who can throw the ball effectively.
Some hard decisions about personnel are going to have to be made at that position.
To win the championship, the Owls need to make Pierce more of a weapon by fixing the firing mechanism.
Who's Paul Palmer, yes, but another question could be:
Where's Matty Baker?