Thumbing down the roster about an hour before the Villanova game, I was heartened to see the number of my favorite Temple player right next to my favorite Temple player's name: No. 30 Bernard Pierce.
Then the game began and that wasn't MY Pierce wearing No. 30.
He had a couple of OK runs, but OK runs won't get you on a Heisman Trophy Billboard.
I've called him "The Franchise" from the first day I saw him play.
Others call him St. Bernard. Another website even called him Bernie's MAC show.
That's why tonight's game (7 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNU) against Central Michigan is so important.
Temple needs the real Pierce to stand up. Temple needs Pierce to make a Heisman run for it to have any chance to run the table, and Pierce needs Temple to run the table for him to have a chance to win the Heisman.
It's a symbiotic relationship.
I don't know what mind games Al Golden was or wasn't playing, but there's no way a 5'5", 150-pound back should be starting over a future NFL first-round draft choice. Matt Brown is a great little change of pace back, but he's not Pierce.
Yeah, I said it.
Pierce will be a first-round NFL draft choice and it will be on an April day after his Temple junior season is completed.
Not the pedestrian Pierce, mind you, I saw against Villanova, but the Pierce who won the Pennsylvania high school state championship in the 100-meter dash as a high school senior and who broke every single Temple freshman running back record last year.
So the question begs answering?
Why only 75 yards on 20 carries against Villanova last week?
The reasons are many and varied.
Golden started Brown because he said Brown "worked harder." Well, I'm 5'5" and I might have worked harder than Pierce if I was 30 years younger, but I'm no good.
Somewhere talent has to be factored into the equation.
I don't think St. Bernard ever got into a rhythm and that might have been the chief reason.
Villanova keying on him might have been another reason, but a lot of teams keyed on Pierce last year and he flat-out abused them.
Even though Pierce ran behind the same 318-pound line from last year, I don't think those 318-pounders played up to their potential last week.
Except for Colin Madison's pancake block to free Brown for a 17-yard touchdown, I didn't see any pancakes.
I didn't see any syrup or butter or bacon, either. So factor in the line's subpar performance as the third reason.
Is Pierce hurt?
I heard a couple of students at the pre-game tailgate say they saw him limping to class last week, but I didn't see Bernard limping on the field so he's healthy enough.
Another possible reason is that everyone has bad games. Gale Sayers had bad games. Heck, even Paul Palmer had bad games.
That's why tonight could and SHOULD be a bounce back night for Pierce, his offensive line, Temple's coaches, and everyone else.
If he doesn't go for at least 150 yards and at least couple of scores, I'll start to worry but I don't think I'll have to because the Pierce I know from last year was relentlessly consistent.
I expect relentless consistency tonight. I expect the real Pierce and the real Temple offensive line to show up and explode off the ball like only they can.
Throw in a few Chester Stewart ball fakes followed by long touchdown passes to wide-open Owls and this offense will really be humming.
Then the numbers will match up with the names in the program and this season will be off and, err, running.
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