Temple RB Pierce focused on New Mexico Bowl
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Bernard Pierce can't say whether Saturday's New Mexico Bowl against Wyoming will be his final college game before he makes a bid for the NFL.
Either way, Temple's junior running back is determined to make the game a special one.
"It's not about me," said Pierce, who totaled 1,381 yards and a school-record 25 touchdowns this season. "It's about the team. I don't have to impress anybody. A win is a win no matter how many points or how you win. It's just a win."
Pierce is part of a backfield tandem with Matt Brown that finished seventh in the country in rushing for Temple (8-4).
That's what Wyoming (8-4) is determined to stop, said Cowboys coach Dave Christensen.
"They want to establish the run first," he said. "I understand that. They have two backs who are very good, then they want to work in the play action."
Although Pierce and Brown gain their yards differently, the Owls approach the offense the same way no matter who's carrying the ball.
"It doesn't matter to us," said first-year Temple coach Steve Addazio. "We run the same plays. They're different styles of back. You run power with both backs, but it's a different deal. One is a low, slicing runner. The other is little bit bigger, more powerful, but they're both good."
Still, this isn't quite the way Addazio envisioned the offense working as he took his first head coaching job.
"What we always wanted to be was a power run team with a spread option component and, of course, a spread vertical pass game that we're trying to head to," he said. "We're not here yet. The passing game part of it is not there yet. Part of it is that is because we've been able to dominate in the run game. Sometimes you get out ahead of people. I'm going to put the power run game in, kill the clock and get off the field."
Wyoming's passing attack, however, is fully matured, even if it's powered by a freshman quarterback in Brett Smith.
"But as the quarterback, whether you're a freshman or senior, the team looks to you in adversity and if you're down, the team is going to be down so I really make it a point to not get super frustrated and have that rub off on the team," he said. "I want to stay super positive and lead the team."
Smith has done a good job of that so far this season, but he knows he faces a tremendous challenge against the country's third-best scoring defense.
"What I've seen is they're extremely fast. They move really well side to side so we have to move north to south as opposed to east and west," he said. "Also, for me, they do a really good job of disguising their coverages so they'll look like they'll be in something then at the stop they'll run into something different, which can confuse a lot of teams."
Likewise, Pierce knows he won't have an easy time of it against the Cowboys defense.
"They do like to do a lot of twists so I'm going to have to make sure that I stay on my marks and make sure I run downhill because they are a fast team," he said. "So sideline to sideline might not work too well."
Updated December 16, 2011