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?

11 comments:

Jacob said...

From what I could see, Navy didn't load up to stop Bernard Pierce, at least not compared to what Toledo or Army did to try to stop the run. That surprised me, because they were getting killed. It seemed like Navy played it very conservatively on defense, and in return Temple gavy Navy a taste of their own medicine. Pierce is really really good. The line is doing a great job, but the vision and timing the Pierce is displaying is really unusual for such a young back.

Now, as for Charlton, it's hard to figure out what happened, because he hasn't had a game anything close to this bad, this season. He actually looked pretty good at Toledo and even when he hasn't looked good, his efficiency is still pretty high. Today he was completely innefective (emphasis on the word "completely"). Was he hurt?

Honestly I don't think Charlton is very good, or will ever be very good. But, I think he continue to do what he's done, which is throw the deep ball and, if the offensive coordinator runs some easy pass plays early in the game to get him in rhythm, he can be efficient. The good news is that Temple has Miami and Akron next. So, if Charlton needed some, uh, lesser opponents to regain his confidence, he's got em.

Phadreus said...

I don't know if Charlton needs to be benched but the coaching staff needs to just realize this kid is not a Tebow or McCoy and work the passing game off of Pierce's running ability. Don't try the 40 yard pass, which Charlton can throw easily but then be 10 yards off to the left or right of his receiver and run curls, 10-15 yard crossing patterns, screens, hit guys out in the flats, etc.

Every team from now till end of season is going to load the box with eight defenders gunning for St. Bernard. The soft underneath should be a turkey shoot for our passing game.

And special teams. Why does each of these plays have to be a pepto bismol moment?

Hopefully someone is going to address these two points for the rest of the season. And hopefully the fans will start coming back. I was at the Nova game with my son (he's 9) and it was electric, right up to the end of the game. We then went to the Army game and it was a sad display for homecoming, weather be damned.

Get on the case of the Inquirer and Daily News. Even the guys on CBS yesterday before the game were making fun of the Inky because here you have a team with a remarkable turn around, playing the biggest game of its season and the only news on it was a game time announcement, right next to a women's basketball story.

Penn State is not from Philly. I understand (intimately) TU's history but time for our local media to start showing the school support!

Temple Football Forever said...

Steve McDonald's comment (I published this but it's not showing up .. must be caught in cyberspace somewhere so I'm just copying and pasting it here:
Mike, give Coyer the nod and see what we have. As the program grows into something worthy of respect, I'm sure we won't have to worry about recruiting QB's. I love watching Bernard Pierce but he and the offense demands balance - we have decent receivers who are not being utilized as they deserve.

Temple Football Forever said...

Good comments all around... I'd love to see what Bernard can do with a viable passing attack. Right now, our passing attack is not viable. It's not even close to viable and we have the best group of receivers and tight ends I've seen at Temple since the Leslie Shepard days.

Rick said...

Mike,

You are dead on with you comments about the QB situation. Why settle for a below-average passing game just because we are winning when we could be so much better? It is sad to see weapons like Nixon, Harper, Campbell, Jones, Rodriquez, etc., etc., get wasted while Pierce has to shoulder the entire offensive load.

Here's an interesting question: would Charlton start for any opponent we've faced this year? My answer would be no. Although he has great arm-strength, he is grossly inaccurate and he has a low football IQ. From my perspective, these are not new problems with Charlton, he has been holding the offense back since game one. I don't care who they put in but replace him with somebody.

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steve mcdonald said...

Thanks Mike, I actually posted it on the your last entry but it carries through for this discussion as well, so I thiank you and I am in agreement fully, passing game needs to be opened if we're going to be effective, especially in a bowl game (Or to prep for 2010)

Jacob said...

2 comments - 1 on special teams, 1 on QB

James Nixon has been getting overlooked in the kudos department, which is understandable considering the dramatic performances of Pierce (and Charlton for different reasons). So, I'm going to throw a little love in Nixon's direction. He returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, which was one of the key plays in the win. He's the #2 guy on the team in all purpose yards and I think he has nearly cemented his role as the big play receiver/kick returner.

As for who could step in for Charlton, wouldn't it have to be Chester Stewart? I don't see how Coyer enters into the equation at this point. Al Golden praises Stewart, he's the designated #2 QB. Stewart surely gets more reps than Coyer. Stewart's been with the program longer. I find it hard to imagine Al Golden suddenly saying, "the heck with it, let's try Coyer. He was good in high school!" I think that, barring injuries, the only way Coyer sees the field is if Charlton loses his job to Stewart and then Stewart loses his job to Coyer. At this point, I think that's a very slim chance, with the season heading into the home stretch and the team riding a 6 game winning streak. Golden is a conservative coach and he doesn't make haphazard changes. A lot of the success he has built at Temple has depended on players having to earn their playing time. To start benching Charlton and going to the 3rd string QB, would be very un-Golden-like.

Philly and the World said...

I was at the game and other than the Charlton's poor performance and the special teams mishaps, this was by far the best I've seen Temple this season. I don't know why Charlton is constantly overthrowing his wide open receivers. It makes no sense. He seems to be regressing. Pierce ran for more yards than the entire Navy offense gained. This reliance on Pierce is making me nervous. Two games ago he was carted off on a stretcher. Yesterday he left the game limping after being collared. There is way too much dependence on him. Looking at the film of Pierce's first touchdown, I saw a Navy player trying to push him put of balance. He looked like a powder puff trying to stop a locomotive.

Tony D

Jacob said...

I want to pose three unrelated questions.

(a) Rank the MAC's top 5:
(1) CMU
(2) ?
(3) ?
(4) ?
(5) ?

I think it's clear that the 2,3,4, and 5 slots belong to Temple, NIU, Ohio, and Kent State, but in which order? TU, KSU, and OU haven't played each other yet. It's hard to gauge Temple on their win-loss record, because their schedule has been weak.

(b) What are the odds that this is Al Golden's last season at Temple?

Does Virginia fire Al Groh and go after Al Golden? Where else might Golden end up?

(c) If the MAC expands to 14 teams, who do they add?

I don't know if Southern Illinois has designs on moving up, but they seem like a good choice. They fit geographically and they have an excellent football program.

What about Villanova? Joining the MAC would split them between the Big East in basketball and the MAC in football. Would they rather join the Big East? or would they rather maintain the status quo?

I've heard Hofstra mentioned and they are an intriguing choice. But, the Colonial is a terrific league and I could unerstand Hofstra being happy to stay put, along with teams like UMass, JMU, etc.

Finally, what about Army? Not sure if Army would be interested. Personally, I'd love to have them. If Army joined, their schedule would be nearly set from year-to-year, because after their league schedule and their service academy games, there would only be one or two other slots on the schedule to fill. I don't know if Army thinks they can return to glory or at least replicate what Air Force and Navy have accomplised in recent decades.

Temple Football Forever said...

I think it's clear that the 2,3,4, and 5 slots belong to Temple, NIU, Ohio, and Kent State, but in which order?
I think that's the order. Interesting that the East is having a better year in terms of top 5 than the west.

(b) What are the odds that this is Al Golden's last season at Temple?
I think Al stays because next year's team, with Coyer at the helm, will be a dynamite ballclub, by far his best ever. Also, Mike London goes to Virginia and Joe Pa stays at PSU, so AG sticks at TU. Plus, that Villanova game left a bad taste in his mouth and he can't wash it out with Listerine or by being the head coach at any other school. After next year, all bets are off.
Does Virginia fire Al Groh and go after Al Golden? Where else might Golden end up?
I don't think there's a viable opening for him. He's an East Coast guy.

(c) If the MAC expands to 14 teams, who do they add?
Army. But it will have to be with a good selling job.

What about Villanova? Joining the MAC would split them between the Big East in basketball and the MAC in football. Would they rather join the Big East? or would they rather maintain the status quo?
Villanova doesn't draw flies. They make us look like Penn State in terms of fan interest. I went a national quarterfinal playoff game, Fordham at Villanova, a few years ago and there were 5,000 people in that 13K stadium. The ceiling of interest in Villanova football is very low. The ceiling of Temple interest is very high.
I've heard Hofstra mentioned and they are an intriguing choice. But, the Colonial is a terrific league and I could unerstand Hofstra being happy to stay put, along with teams like UMass, JMU, etc.
I don't think Hofstra has the infrastructure (stadium, etc.).
Finally, what about Army? Not sure if Army would be interested.
Army already is playing MAC teams. Why not add a couple more and play for the championship? Makes a lot more sense from their perspective than CUSA. Somebody is going to have to knock some sense into the USMA heads and it should be Bradshaw, but I'm not sure if he cares enough about the MAC or Army or even Temple to be proactive.