Temple's Pierce Comes Dressed Up as Paul Palmer in Win Over Navy

Mike GibsonCorrespondent INovember 1, 2009

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 Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde for the 1986 Heisman Trophy (he finished second in the balloting).

Chances are, Pierce will get to know Boo-Boo well in the coming months and years as each record Palmer set falls.  Boo-Boo played with a terrific quarterback named Lee Saltz and a dynamite blocking fullback named Shelley Poole, whose play complemented Palmer's shifty abilities.

Pierce has far less help, particularly at those positions, but his impact has been spectacular.

Six straight starts. Six straight wins.

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.

Saturday, 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.

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.

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 fixing the firing mechanism.

Who's Paul Palmer, yes, but another question could be:

Where's Lee Saltz?