|Bernard Pierce and Matty Brown react after Bill Bradshaw tells them about ordering gloves with the Temple T on the palm side.|
Social scientists a lot smarter than I am give the three stages of grief as disbelief, disintegration and reintegration.
No doubt when you lose your favorite player from your favorite team as I did last week, there is an element of grief involved and I experienced all of those stages of grief in a relatively short time.
I’m in the reintegration stage, though, because while I grieve over Bernard Pierce’s loss, Matty Brown has always been my second-favorite player.
|No truth to the rumor that this is how the team reacted
when Daz said Spencer Reid was replacing Bernard Pierce.
Bernie and The Bug are gone as a team but the bug is still here. Yet he cannot carry the running game alone, just as Bernie could not carry the running game alone.
At the end of December, head coach Steve Addazio threw out these names as possible sidekicks to Brown next year:
Jalen Fitzpatrick, Darius Johnson, Kenny Harper and Spencer Reid.
Sorry, Steve, I’m not buying it.
Fitzpatrick was a quarterback in high school and never played running back before. Johnson was an undistinguished and pedestrian running back in the Philadelphia Public League, quite possibly the worst high school football league in the state of Pennsylvania. Reid was given a scholarship as a running back despite running a painfully slow 4.6 40, making him slower than two of the Owls’ three starting linebackers last year. (Heck, I still think his dad could have afforded a full ride to Temple, saving that scholarship for, say, Ryan Brumfield.) Kenny Harper was better known as a safety in high school for Gainesville (Fla.) Buchholz and, quite frankly, did not EVEN REMOTELY show me any flashes of either Pierce or Brown on the limited number of carries he had at that position last year. I sincerely hope that when Justin Gildea moves from strong safety to free safety Harper will slide into the starting strong safety position next year. Both players could be All-MAC on defense right away.
Fitzpatrick would be perfect to slide into Joey Jones’ slot receiver spot. Deon Miller returns as one starting wide receiver and the Owls can chose from a whole lot of good options at the other WR, including playmaker Ryan Alderman.
My No. 1 solution would be for Temple to go out and find a big-time stud JUCO running back who is ready to go both on the field and in the classroom. Someone who has Bernard Pierce’s vision, speed, moves and quick burst to the outside.
Maybe that someone is Tiger Powell of Lake City, Fla.
Maybe it is someone else.
If Temple is not going to sign a big-time stud JUCO running back who is ready to go next year, there are better options available (some involve shuffling of personnel from offense to defense):
Brandon Peoples, Archbishop Wood _ It’s tough to ask an incoming freshman to make an impact right away but Brandon has the right initials. Another BP had 268 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-24 win at Navy as a true freshman, so maybe Brandon can duplicate that effort. He’s 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, though. Pierce is 6-1, 218. Peoples is not competing for the PIAA state 100-meter dash championship. At Peoples’ age, Pierce won it.
|Nate Smith, like BP, has a nose for the goal line.|
Nate Smith, current starting linebacker candidate _ This is my personal choice on the current team to help out Matty Brown, leaving the two current linebacker starters in place. Smith has the size (6-0, 220) of Pierce and is just a tenth of a second slower than Pierce. As a senior at Highland Park (N.J.), he was unstoppable, rushing for 2,442 yards and 32 touchdowns. That’s five more touchdowns than Bernard Pierce scored for Temple in this record-breaking year. Brother of former Philadelphia Eagle L.J. Smith so he’s got very good bloodlines. Nate has been a lifelong Owl, going from the Highland Park Owls to the Temple Owls.
Wyatt Benson (6-0, 215), current starting fullback _ Benson, a blocker extraordinaire, could play his current position and pick up five to 10 carries a game to take some of the rushing load off Brown and quarterback Chris Coyer. He finished his prep career at Haverford School (the Inter-Ac, unlike the Public, is a GREAT high school league) with 663 rushing yards, 217 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.
Ahkeem Smith, current starting linebacker _ Started out as a backup running back to both Pierce and Brown at Temple. As a senior at Bethlehem Liberty, was a superstar running back in a great Lehigh Valley League with 27 touchdowns and 1,837 yards in his senior year. Showed the current coaches his running ability by scoring a touchdown against Buffalo on a fake punt.
Blaze Caponegro, current starting linebacker _ The 2008 Shore Conference Player of the Year ran for 350 yards against Manasquan (yes, that was 350 yards in just one game), scoring five touchdowns. So he knows how to run the football.