For a supposedly glass quarterback, Buck Pierce is breaking new ground — along the ground.
This has to be the last thing we expected from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers new pivot. The quarterback who’s determined to prove the critics wrong and stay out of sick bay this season is leading his team in rushing.
Heck, through two weeks he’s one of the top “running” backs in the CFL, fifth in total yardage with 192 (after games of 89 and 103 yards) and well ahead of notables like teammate Fred Reid, Montreal’s Avon Cobourne and DeAndra Cobb of Hamilton.
And he’s coming off the first 100-yard game of his career. Even in college, where he ran the option, Pierce never hit the century mark.
What’s he going to do, start buying the O-line dinner every time he reaches it?
“It’s something everybody pushes for as a ball carrier, the century mark,” the league’s offensive player of the week said after practice, Tuesday. “That’s good for your offence in a lot of ways. It opens up the pass game as well. But I was pretty tired after that last game. I shouldn’t feel that tired.”
Then he’ll have to stop doing his Charles Roberts impersonation.
Pierce was so tired after one run last Friday (his 43-yard TD) he would have had trouble calling the next play.
“If I wouldn’t have scored on that one... I would have been in trouble.”
Who knew the Bombers were signing a quarterback and a running back when they saddled up to Pierce in the off-season?
“You really never game plan for that stuff,” Pierce said. “When I become a runner I try to get as much yardage as I can. And when there’s a chance to score, I’m going to try and score.
“I don’t want to take any extra hits. I don’t feel like I’ve taken off in spots where I shouldn’t take off in.”
Pierce even abandoned the hook slide a few times last week, taking on Hamilton defenders like he was Earl Campbell.
“It’s a work in progress,” he cracked.
The Bombers, you’ll recall — specifically, head coach Paul LaPolice — initially wrote Pierce off as damaged goods last winter, only rethinking that position when Stefan LeFors balked at returning.
Nobody else in the league would touch him, either. Too many knocks on the head, the thinking went.
But instead of staying in the pocket and playing it safe, the former B.C. Lion has started his stint in Bomber colours with the two best rushing performances of his six-year pro career.
“What else am I supposed to do — stand back there and be a robot?” Pierce asked. “That’s not me. I’m going to go out and compete. If I’m able to run and give us a first down, keep the chains moving and put ourselves in a good situation, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Actually, it’s not like Pierce is taking off with the ball every other play. The guy’s only pulled it down and hit the gas 13 times in two games.
His average gain, though, 14.8 yards, looks more like a receiver’s, and makes Reid’s nifty 6.2 average look paltry.
We can only imagine Coach LaPo would prefer to have an actual running back lead his team along the ground.
“That would be true,” LaPolice said.
It’s not that he doesn’t want Pierce to use his legs to make things happen.
He just wants him to make sure he’s not missing an open receiver, “because they get paid to run with it. We get paid to throw it.”
Hey, maybe Pierce is a closet running back. You know, the way Matt Dunigan used to wish he was a linebacker.
“Never,” Pierce said. “I’ll stay at this position.”
Fine. But I hope he had the sense to put some incentive clauses in his contract.
You know, for 1,000 yards on the ground, 10 TD’s rushing — the kinds of things all running backs shoot for.
Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or 632-2788.