For what seemed to be forever, even in bad seasons, Temple football always had a guy who you could hand the ball off to and put the fear in the minds of the defense that he has the speed and explosiveness to take it to the house on any given down.
The Owls went from guys Anthony Anderson and Zack Dixon and Kevin Duckett to guys like Paul Palmer and Todd McNair to guys like Elmarko Jackson and Stacy Mack to Jason McKie and Tanardo Sharps to the more recent vintage of Bernard Pierce, Matty Brown and Montel Harris.
You could call Temple ‘][‘ailback U.
That really has not existed the last two seasons. Sure, getting Archbishop Ryan’s under-recruited star, Samir Bullock–whose running style is shocking similar to Pierce’s–would solve the problem, but that solution is a year away if at all.
It’s not like Temple is waiting to recruit the next BP, because I believe he’s currently in the house and that’s between Khalif Herbin, Jamie Gilmore, Zach Thomas and David Hood. Supposedly at least two of those players are getting a fair tryout at running the football this week. I believe all should get at least five handoffs from scrimmage against Delaware State and whomever emerges from the pack–both literally and figuratively–should get the job going forward. For some reason, whether they are banged up or not, Temple’s other backs have not shown the speed to get to the corner. I don’t know what happened to Zaire Williams but seeing him getting caught from behind at SMU on a sure touchdown last year was an eye-opener. That wouldn’t have happened to Pierce or Brown.
To me, the offensive line is not a great concern. They had a bad game against Navy, but they pushed around a defensive line at Vanderbilt that had some success last year in the SEC.
The big concern on the offense is finding a true Temple Tailback U guy to follow the blocks of that offensive line (and maybe even fullback Kenny Harper) to explosive gains downfield. Establishing the running game would open up the play-action passing game of P.J. Walker. Right now, Temple’s passing game seems to be locked into throwing little flares out of the backfield and into double-coverage in the end zone.
Herbin won the New Jersey State Player of the Year Award in 2011–a year before P.J. Walker won it–for his ability to run the ball from the line of scrimmage, yet the Owl coaches insist on putting him at receiver, a position he’s had no success in the past. That was Al Golden’s plan for Matty Brown, to convert him from successful running back to the new position of slot receiver, before Pierce’s NCAA clearinghouse issues prompted Golden to use him at his more natural position of RB. Brown, who is smaller and slower than Herbin, held onto that position for the rest of his career. Temple fans were glad his talents were not wasted at slot receiver. That move helped Golden become a million-dollar coach.
All Herbin needs is the same chance. I hope he gets it against Del. State and, err, runs with it.