There's a new way of looking at things at Temple these days.
Gone, long gone, are the days where the Owls were trying to put a football team on the field that was just trying to be respectable. Nine straight wins last season took care of that.
What it's about now is winning, and doing the things necessary to win the MAC, which Temple almost did last year and may well have pulled off had it not been for an injury to star running back Bernard Pierce.
It's about winning, and going to a second straight bowl game after the long drought.
Senior Vaughn Charlton made that clear with a decision he made late in spring practice. Charlton, one of the two veterans involved in a quarterback battle, moved to tight end, perhaps leaving the QB job to Chester Stewart, with prospect Chris Coyer and walk-on Mike Gerardi also in the mix.
"Vaughn Charlton came to us and said he thinks he can impact the team at tight end, which I thought was one of the most unselfish things," coach Al Golden said.
Not only did Charlton move, but he looked good, Golden said. "Everybody was blown away."
"All of the things that you guys ask me every day, it's probably the biggest news, probably since I've been here. Probably one of those deals, other than recruiting."
Golden clearly saw the voluntary shift as another one of those character things he's looking for in his players, another one of those things that is making Temple football relevant.NOTES, QUOTES
--With incumbent Vaughn Charlton moving to tight end, Chester Stewart has to be the favorite for the starting quarterback job, although coach Al Golden calls it "a wide-open competition" as Stewart is being pushed by redshirt freshman Chris Coyer and walk-on Mike Gerardi. "I'm stepping into the leadership role," Stewart said after going 8-for-15 for 119 yards in the spring game. "I am definitely comfortable with the offense. I can talk to the guys, and they'll respond. They'll help me out. We're jelling together as a team, and that's good."
--Running back Bernard Pierce, the key to the Temple rise in 2009, ran for 88 yards on 14 carries, with a long of 22 yards, in the annual Cherry and White spring game. He said there are no issues with the shoulder he injured, ending his season prematurely and likely costing his team a true shot at the MAC title. "The shoulder is not a problem anymore," he said. "The shoulder's at 100 percent." He was upset he didn't get into the end zone in the spring game. "I'm not going to lie; I wanted to score. Our defense didn't see it that way."
RB Bernard Pierce -- Without him, there is no moving in the Temple offense and it had to be reassuring for the coaches to see him run for 88 yards in the spring game, his shoulder troubles behind him. This kid is a star. "He's really one of our hardest workers in the weight room,? says coach Al Golden. "He's just got to understand the mental toughness and durability. Once he does that he'll have it all."
WR Michael Campbell -- Singled out by Golden for his play in the spring, Campbell will be a key regardless of who wins the battle for the starting quarterback spot.
TE Vaughn Charlton -- Literally a "mover" in the spring as he shifted positions from quarterback to tight end late in spring ball, impressing the coaches with his size and hands.
K Brandon McManus -- It won't count as an official stat, but he kicked what would have been a career-long 51-yard field goal for the only points of the annual spring game, capping a strong spring.
LB Amara Kamara -- He has to be one of the real leaders of the defense in the fall and will be coming off a strong spring as he heads into his senior season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I read somewhere that the Law of Mount Everest is that when you start to climb and you start to elevate, the need for teamwork escalates. And it does. For us, there's not a lot of room to stand when you start winning nine games. It's harder to breathe at the top. We have to keep going. I already told the student-athletes that this is going to be the hardest offseason we've ever had. It's not the time to take a deep breath. We have a long way to go." -- Temple coach Al Golden on his growing program.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: The goal is simple: just keep getting better and get to a second straight bowl game. "Now isn't the time to take a deep breath," said coach Al Golden. "Now is the time to move forward, to push forward, to work harder and to improve." The Owls have become a handful and bring back the nucleus of last year's nine-win team. Running back Bernard Pierce is the star and if this team ever answers its quarterback question, watch out.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The battle between Vaughn Charlton and Chester Stewart for the starting quarterback spot officially ended late in spring camp when Charlton volunteered to move to tight end for his senior season. But that doesn't mean the quarterback job belongs to Stewart as Chris Coyer and Mike Gerardi battle for the spot, even though Stewart has to be the favorite. With a star runner in sophomore-to-be Bernard Pierce, the Owls need someone to distribute the ball, mix things up and not try to do too much.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Golden has been dedicated to making this a rugged defense and it has worked. The Owls are loaded with athletes as safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, linebacker Elijah Joseph and linemen Adrian Robinson (the MAC Defensive Player of the Year) and Muhammad Wilkerson were all All-MAC selections and should be able to more than compensate for the loss of NT Andre Neblett.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Brandon McManus ended a strong spring with a 51-yard field goal that would have been a career long if it had come in a game. He's set, as is punter Jeff Wathne. The Owls have always had strong return games, and running back Ahkeem Smith was voted the most improved special teams player in the spring.
--RB Bernard Pierce, whose shoulder injury cut short what Temple might have done at the end of the season, is on target for spring ball.
--DE Adrian Robinson, the MAC Defensive Player of the Year became a star as a sophomore, with 13 sacks in 13 games.
--TEs Cody Booth, a walk-on, and Alex Johnson combined for seven catches for 70 yards in the spring game. "Cody Booth is really going to be a good football player," said coach Al Golden.
--LB Jordan Martin was the leading spring-game tackler with nine, including three sacks.
--CB Kee-ayre Griffin, who made the move from running back last season, had six tackles, one for loss, and an interception in the spring game.
--LB Brandon Smith, who played in 11 games and started one at Michigan last year, has transferred to Temple. He is already enrolled and will sit out this season.
--Two players who have transferred in and won't have to sit out because their old schools dropped football: DB Zamel Johnson (Hofstra) and OL Martin Wallace (Northeastern). Johnson missed last season with a shoulder injury but is fine.
--QBs Vaughn Charlton and Chester Stewart finished the 2009 season with 13 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, Charlton guilty of a costly pick-six down near his own goal line in the bowl game. They combined to hit just 48 percent of their passes, for 1,904 total yards. Charlton is now a tight end.
--Recruits Aaron Hush and Dean Miller were already in school and at spring practice.
Previous Report: 04/28/2010