With an chance to distance themselves from the rest of the American’s East Division and potentially insert themselves into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2011, the Bulls couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, falling to Temple 46-30 on Friday night.
While the Gulf Coast Offense came up just short of extending their streak of games with 35+ points and 200+ rushing yards, the regressing defense allowed another big game for their opponent. Temple averaged 7.3 yards per play, and running back Ryquell Armstead had a career day.
Let’s dive in and see what we can make of this mess.
I wasn’t able to view this game as it happened live, so after watching it, I can say that there’s really not much to be said except one key takeaway.
We can talk about the Bulls being sloppy with penalties for the third week in a row, racking up 88 yards this time around.
We can talk about special teams gaffes, like the blocked extra point and blocked punt.
We could indeed talk about the offense keeping pace throughout the game, and at the very least giving themselves a chance to tie the game at the end. As mentioned before, their 35 point/200 rushing yard streak ended at 11 games, but they came pretty close. With the exception of one drive, every USF series was all-or-nothing, either ending with a touchdown, punt, or turnover. The mindset of gunning towards the endzone every time out has resonated with the Gulf Coast Offense all season long. While it can result in quick three-and-outs and put the defense right back on the field, it’s your best shot at winning.
(Side note: Shoutout to Tyre McCants who continues to ingratiate himself into the fabric of this offense. SO. MANY. WEAPONS.)
We can talk about the disastrous fourth-quarter drive that saw two costly Marcus Norman penalties, Quinton Flowers injuring his hamstring, and a Brett Kean interception reminiscent of Matt Floyd vs. FSU. While this series sealed the game for Temple, once again the Bulls were at the very least in a position to #DoSomething and potentially send the game into overtime.
But here’s the real takeaway from this game. You ready for it?
This defense is trash and it may be time to retire the Bull Sharks moniker because a defense this bad doesn’t deserve a nickname. That’s it. We could end it right there.
USF’s defense got manhandled at the line of scrimmage, allowing 319 rushing yards on 6.3 yards per carry to an Owls team that was only averaging 4.18 ypc in their first seven games of the season. They were gashed by Ryquell Armstead and Isaiah Wright, who combined for 268 yards and consistently found themselves up field on large gains. The Bulls’ inability to get off blocks and pressure Phillip Walker showed, with only four tackles for loss in the entire game. They did not force a turnover for the second week in a row. Nate Godwin was the team’s leading tackler, and something has gone wrong anytime one of your safeties ever leads the team in tackles.
This damning quote from Temple’s Armstead sums everything up perfectly:
Armstead on his FB, Nick Sharga: "By the end of the 3rd quarter he had USF players falling to their knees out of fear of making contact."— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) October 22, 2016
USF’s poor defensive play finally caught up to them and not even their offensive counterparts could bail them out this time around.
The Bulls are now ranked 89th in Defensive S&P+ and have to find solutions to fix that ASAP. With things finally clicking for Chad Morris at SMU, Memphis and Navy looking like the best two teams in the West Division, and even UCF looking competent, the final four games suddenly look much more daunting than they did previously.
Oh, and they immediately follow this performance by playing Navy’s triple option next Friday. Wonderful.