The USF Bulls entered Friday night’s game with the Temple Owls with a chance to break into the Top 25 for the first time in five seasons, but were shoved around with ease by the home team in a 46-30 loss on Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia.
"We got physically dominated on both sides of the ball. We got outcoached," said Willie Taggart, whose team is still tied for first place in the East Division of the American Conference, though no longer in control of their own destiny for a conference championship. “We didn’t do anything right as a football team. Offensively, defensively, or special teams. (It was) piss-poor.”
Temple junior running back Ryquell Armstead had a career night with 210 yards rushing on 20 carries with two touchdowns. He racked up the majority of the 319 yards via 51 carries on the ground for the Owls, who found little resistance in the “Bull Sharks” defense. “The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them,” Armstead said.
Temple used that base running game to set up senior quarterback Philip Walker, who threw for 209 yards and a touchdown. Ventell Bryant, a redshirt sophomore from Tampa’s Jefferson High School, led all receivers with 115 yards on five catches.
“We can’t get off blocks. We can’t tackle,” said Taggart. “We have to do everything better. It’s Football 101.” The Bulls entered the game 84th in the nation in S&P defensively, limiting the explosiveness of the best offense in the AAC. USF also has failed to create a turnover or fumble in their last two games.
"We're gonna find a way and we're gonna get it changed, I'm telling you. We're gonna get it changed,” said senior linebacker Nigel Harris, who tied for the team lead with seven tackles.
The “Gulf Coast Offense” was once again efficient, with 33 carries for 199 yards on the ground, and 19 passes for 187 yards from quarterback Quinton Flowers. But the Bulls saw limited opportunities due to multiple sustained drives by the Owls, who had the ball for 39:07 of game time.
Flowers threw for two touchdowns and ran for another before injuring his hamstring late in the fourth quarter. Backup Brett Kean entered to try and salvage a game-saving drive on 3rd and 17 with under four minutes to play and the Bulls trailing 37-30, but threw an interception over the middle that Temple converted to a game-winning touchdown one play later.
“Our goal is to score every time anyway,” said junior running back Marlon Mack. “Even if we do have to score, I mean we gotta score anyway so I don’t feel like it’s (any) pressure on us. We just gotta do what we do and score points.”
Things won’t get any easier for a Bulls team that was manhandled on the ground tonight, as they’ll face Navy on Friday night at home in Raymond James Stadium. The Midshipmen are sixth in FBS in rushing attempts per game entering this weekend at 51.5, and 26th in rushing yards per game with 221.2.