I’ll have a No. 7 and a No. 11 from this menu.
There is no bigger P.J. Walker fan on the planet than me.
After going through years of Chester Stewarts and Vaughn Charltons, I know a good quarterback from a bad one and only two guys in the last eight years—Walker and Adam DiMichele—have met minimum daily requirement standards for a Temple quarterback. Chris Coyer won a bowl game, but never got the kind of extended run at the position he deserved so he didn’t have a full body of work from which to judge. Both P.J. and Adam could make plays with their feet as well as their arm and, in big-time college football, you need those intangibles. You cannot run an effective read-option play without a quarterback who is a running threat, and that’s something the Philadelphia Eagles are learning the hard way. Adam was and P.J. is a great leader in the huddle. Stewart and Charlton never were. I’m a hard-marker and P.J. gets an “A” in my book, Adam an A+. The difference is that P.J. has two years to improve that grade.
Fortunately, this year the coaches are helping him with a curriculum that he’s better-suited for—a strong run game that (sometimes) includes a blocking fullback, setting up an effective play-action passing game. Temple is a better team when it runs for 200 yards and passes for 200 and P.J. is a better quarterback when he’s throwing 20-30 passes, not 40-50.
A lot (heck, all) of Walker’s so-called sophomore slump can be attributed to one of the worst offensive schemes ever laid at the feet of a Temple quarterback—empty backfields and four wides that invited blitzes and sacks, which led to fumbles and interceptions—and no pocket protection that a blocking fullback or even a max protect scheme could have provided.
That said, P.J. Walker will sadly not be here forever and it was great to see that the Temple coaching staff used the off week to pound the pavement for his replacement—even though his replacement is 3,000 miles away. Apparently, there is money is the budget to send a couple of Temple assistants on a six-hour plane flight to suburban Sacramento and, judging by the film, it was money well-spent for an acceptable replacement for Walker in Montel Aaron, who committed to the Owls on Friday night. Temple had a very good experience with its last Montel (Harris) and there is no reason to believe this Montel will not give Owl fans reason to smile. (For those who’ve forgotten, Harris went off for 351 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in a 63-32 win at Army in 2012. That’s probably a 56-game hitting streak-type record that will never be broken.)
I looked hard on Cherry and White Day and did not see anyone with the physical tools of P.J. that I could project as a replacement. Montel Aaron has those physical tools.
Aaron reminds me of a more polished version of Clinton Granger. We could not win with Clint because he came here raw and stayed that way. If Montel comes here polished as he appears to be and the coaches rub a little extra Pledge on him, Temple can win with Montel Aaron, and going to the other side of the football earth to get him will prove to be worth it.
Tomorrow: Temple vs. Charlotte photos
Tuesday: Tulane and UCF