Practice? Yeah, we're talking about practice

21:40 Cholis Back 0 Comments

There's a saying in the deep south about the three biggest sports seasons being college football No. 1, NASCAR No. 2 and college football spring practice No. 3.
I have no doubt that's true in places like Alabama and Georgia and, maybe, Florida.
Baseball and basketball have yet to make inroads into that Holy Trinity.
Up here, not so much.
I doubt very many people in Philadelphia realize Temple football spring practice officially begins today.
I do.
Now you do, too.

Somebody please find that sheet and burn it once and for all.
I say officially because being a big-time college football player in today's world is really a 365-day-a-year job.
Steve Addazio, the new Temple football coach, will talk to the media after practice today.
Expect him to talk intangibles, rather than X's and O's.
He'll talk about developing a toughness, a work ethic, a pride, all of those things that Al Golden pretty much took care of in his four years.
Truth be told, he's got no choice.
His starting quarterback (Clinton Granger, maybe) is not here yet, nor are we totally 100 percent sure he will be. (For the record, I think he will.)
So is the quarterback "competition" really that much of a story now?
I don't think so.
My storyline this spring revolves not around the quarterback position so much as the running back position.
I've said this until I'm blue in the face and, trust me, I'm blue in the face:
TEMPLE NEEDS TO DEVELOP A VIABLE BACKUP TO BERNARD PIERCE SHOULD BERNARD PIERCE GO DOWN.
This was true last year.

Temple fans know this sequence all too well (thanks, Owlified)
It is even more true this year.
Look, the preferable route is to pray to God that Bernard stays healthy for 13 games and puts up the kinds of numbers I know deep down in my heart he can: 2,000 yards, 20 touchdowns, more importantly, leading to a 12-1 (or better) record.
I know he can do it.
I also know that it's never smart to put all your eggs in one basket, especially this close to Easter.
Quite frankly, if the last two games proved anything last season, Matt Brown wasn't a viable backup to Bernard Pierce. His tank ran on fumes the final two games and the Temple offense sputtered and grinded to a halt as result. Hopefully, Addazio will utilize Brown for what he is: The Best Third Down Back in the MAC, not Pierce's backup. That way, he'll be fresh for the final two games and can do some damage teamed with Pierce on third-down situations.
I'm more interested in developing a backup to Pierce  with what Addazio calls "explosives" than a quarterback. Note Addazio uses the word "explosives" and not explosiveness. Pierce has what I would call H-Bomb type explosives. We have no A-Bomb to back him up.
I don't think there's a talent in the program even close right now.
Does Myron Ross have explosives? Does Ahkeem Smith have explosives? Does incoming recruit Spencer Reid have explosives?
Based on what they've done so far (high school and limited college), I have serious doubts about all three.
I know incoming recruit Nate Smith has explosives, but they have him listed as a linebacker. I hope they think outside the box and make him a running back again. At least for this year.
So the challenge this spring is finding that "other" Bernard Pierce  egg and, in the process, destroying that playbook or whatever Matt Rhule called it.
My good friend, Dave Gerson, wrote appropriately that Temple, post-BP, had five plays in its offensive arsenal and kept calling the five plays in sequence over and over again. He said it with a hint of tongue-in-cheek but, to Temple fans, there was a lot of a sad truth to the critique.
I have a lot of confidence that new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler is going to bring a different approach to moving the football and I'm excited to see what it will be.
Addazio said his offensive philosophy will be tailored to Temple's personnel so, if that's true, this is what I want to see:
Hand the ball left, right and up the middle to Pierce behind a 320-pound offensive line. Create so much fear in the running game that play-action off it results in receivers running free through opposing secondaries and the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard being turned into an adding machine.
It's a simple but time-tested philosophy but you have to have a great running back to execute it.
Temple's got at least one of those.
The trick this spring is to find some more of that dynamite.