Date: Thursday September 21, 2017
Kickoff Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Line: USF -19.5, O/U 63
Series Record: Temple leads 2-1
Last Meeting: Temple won 46-30 on October 21, 2016
It is officially the fun time of the year. Everyone, regardless of the record, is excited to get out of non-conference play. It is exciting for both the teams and the fans to match up with an opponent they know all too well as Temple and USF are getting ready for their mid-week game on a national stage.
What they did last week:
Last week, the Owls came away with their second victory of the year against UMass (0-4), 29-21. Although it wasn’t a pretty win, the Owls have already shown patterns of consistency. Logan Marchi continued to play turnover free football, and went 22-37, 248 YDS, for three touchdowns. Another positive sign for the Owls was the play of Ryquell Armstead. He rushed the ball 17 times for 91 yards with a stellar 5.4 YDS/carry.
Temple also has great depth at wide receiver with Isaiah Wright, Keith Kirkwood, Adonis Jennings, and Ventell Bryant. All the receivers have proven they are capable targets thus far, and should continue as long as Marchi continues what he is doing. The defense was also superb in the game racking up nine sacks and 12 TFLs. The Temple defense has proved they’re a strong unit again, and may bail out Temple a few times this year if the offense cannot score enough.
Temple’s 3 Keys to the game:
- They must continue to win the turnover battle. Temple has done an excellent job not turning over the football, especially Logan Marchi. The USF defense has drastically improved under Charlie Strong and defensive coordinator, Brian Jean-Mary. It won’t be a cake walk this year Temple fans.
- Get Armstead going early. Marchi has not played on this big of a stage before. With a rowdy USF crowd and the game being televised on ESPN, he might understandably have some nerves. Armstead needs to lead this team because he, and Nick Sharga (got to love a fullback being used!), demolished the defense last year in Philly. It is vital that Armstead be a factor otherwise the game might end quickly.
- Continue to boast good play on defense. With Quinton Flowers and a dynamic group of athletes out there, the defense (specifically the secondary) is going to have to be good. Flowers is at his best when he leaves the pocket, and he will test Temple’s secondary all night.
What they did last week:
People may get on this team for “slow starts,” but last week really wasn’t that slow. In fact, the game was well in hand almost the entire way through. The Bulls did have issues on special teams that allowed for Illinois to stay in the game a little longer, but fans were not overly worried. A win against a P5 opponent, no matter how bad, is still a good win.
The coaching staff finally opened up the playbook and let Quinton Flowers be Quinton Flowers. Flowers showed his athleticism last week by throwing for 280 yards, for four touchdowns. Flowers was the leading rusher (106 YDS, 1TD). Flowers wasn’t the only one causing havoc on the ground though. Darius Tice had 105 YDS and a TD, while D’Ernest Johnson had 101 yards. The receiving core, much like Temple, has good depth.
Since, Rodney Adams left, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has taken over the leading role. Deangelo Antoine and Tyre McCants are also reliable receivers on the roster. In total, the offense totaled 680 YDS. On defense, Charlie Strong and crew have put together a watchable defense. The defensive line is better than last year, and the secondary looks much improved with another year of experience under their belts. USF totaled two sacks, four TFLs, and three interceptions.
USF’s 3 keys to the game:
- Special teams miscues need to go. This is the reason for the “slow starts.” They can’t keep getting punts and PATs blocked. The snap needs to come off faster and the big guys upfront have to block better. So far to my count, special teams have cost the Bulls 14 points in three games. That’s not counting poor field position either. If they want to beat Temple, they have to play perfect on special teams.
- Continue to get the running backs involved in the passing game. The coaching staff finally threw to their athletic running backs. D’Ernest Johnson is one of the most versatile players in the country. He is extremely effective in the passing game. It showed last week when they threw to him twice for 37 yards and a score. It kept the defense off guard, and will continue to give opposing defenses trouble.
- Stop Ryquell Armstead. The defense needs to set the tone that they didn’t last year. Armstead ran all over USF, which costs the Bulls a potential AAC championship. If USF wants to stay in this game, they can’t let Armstead run wild like he did last year.
I think its revenge time for USF. They made a plethora of mistakes in last year’s game that cost them the AAC championship. I don’t think they’ll make the same mistakes.
I think both teams get off to a great start early on, maybe some trick plays thrown in there. During the second half, USF will separate themselves and continue their great play on offense.