Opponent: Temple Owls
2017 Record: 2-1
Head Coach: Geoff Collins
Bill Cosby , Diplo, Kevin Negandhi, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Bob Saget
Date/Time: Thursday, September 21 at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Series History: Temple leads 2-1. The home team has won all three times.
Still my favorite hit of all time. #GoOwls #TempleTuff pic.twitter.com/pCueqATnMp— Maxl Rose (@MaxWithTheBeard) June 24, 2017
This (amazing) video pretty much sums up the Temple versus USF game last year as the Owls punked the Bulls 46-30 in Philadelphia.
blame yo uncle woodie man!!! You see I'm the only one on that side ♂️— Johnny Ward (@J_Bone_4) June 24, 2017
When you acting tough at school and yo uncles hear about it #WeRanTheSamePlays ♂️ ♂️ https://t.co/NCr0wagUOp— Johnny Ward (@J_Bone_4) June 24, 2017
Boy you talking bout aching ♂️ that game there was long af— Johnny Ward (@J_Bone_4) June 24, 2017
These tweets from former USF cornerback Johnny Ward basically confirm everything we though about the 2016 defense: Raymond Woodie was in over his head.
Temple is 2-1, but a very, very soft 2-1. They bit the curb against (4-8) Notre Dame 49-16. Then they upset 2016 national champions Villanova in a Big 5 matchup on a last-minute three... wait, wrong sport. They barely beat FCS Villanova on a last-minute field goal, 16-13. Last week they . struggled with UMass before pulling away 29-21.
New head coach Geoff Collins has experience with a lackluster offense and no quarterback in place from his time as the defensive coordinator at UF. So it was only fitting that he took over for Matt Rhule after he left for Baylor, of all places.
To his credit, Collins’ defenses at Florida and Mississippi State before that have been one of the top defenses in the SEC and in the country. In 2016, the Gators defense sixth in the nation in scoring defense (16.3 ppg) and just ahead of their offense in scoring offense (just kidding).
Temple lost quarterback Phillip Walker, who changed his name and literally became a better version of himself, as well as running back Jahad Thomas and left tackle Dion Dawkins.
They do, however, return a trio of 6-3 wide receivers in Tampa product Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings, each of whom have at least eight catches and over 100 yards through three games, running back Ryquell Armstead and fullback Nick F***ING SHARGA.
Armstead hit USF for 210 yards and two scores last year behind the blocking of Sharga, who pancaked approximately 4,352 Bulls defenders that night.
Ryquell Armstead on Nick Sharga: "By the end of the 3rd quarter he had USF players falling to their knees out of fear of making contact." https://t.co/vbGqkY1c2X— Collin Sherwin (@USFCollin) September 19, 2017
Redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi takes over for Walker at QB, and he’s done OK as the starter. He’s 61-for-106 for 767 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He averages 7.2 per pass attempt and just over 12 yards per completion. Kirkwood and Jennings average over 15 yards per catch, and 6-2 sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright leads the team with 20 yards per catch.
The Owls have only one turnover this year while the revamped Bulls defense has forced eight—all inteceptions—led by senior safety Devin Abraham and junior cornerback Mazzi Wilkins with two apiece.
USF is at a severe height disadvantage when the Owls go three-wide. CB Ronnie Hoggins is 5-8, Wilkins is 6-0 and senior Deatrick Nichols is listed as 5-10 (if he’s 5-10, I’m 6-6). Bigger wide receivers have had field day’s against these corners last year. ECU’s Zay Jones, 6-2, had 18 catches for 145 yards and a score; C.’s Tre’Quan Smith 6-1, had seven catches for 183 yards and two TD’s, SMU’s Cortland Sutton, 6-4, 12 catches, 252 yards and two TD’s.
We can probably chalk some of that poor playcalling and defense from the 2016 team, but this is my only concern for the Bulls defense versus Temple.
What a difference a year makes, huh?
Temple gave up just over 18 points per game and under 300 yards in 2016, but have conceded 27 points and 488 yards per game in 2017.
Gone are all three starting linebackers and all-around freak defensive lineman Hassan Reddick. They also lost two other starters along the line. Collins has his hands full in what can only be called a defensive rebuild.
Notre Dame had three different rushers go over 100-yards en route to 422 yards on the ground in the season opener. Villanova and UMass subsequently torched the Owls through the air giving up 382 and 377 yards, respectively.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers, coming off an offensive explosion vs Illinois, should have no problems tearing this defense to shreds with his arm and legs.
Something to ponder for Thursday: Since the start of the '15 season, Temple has a nation-best 12 blocked kicks. #USF— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) September 19, 2017
Special teams coach Ed Foley was retained through the coaching change and has worked wonders with that unit. The Bulls had an extra point blocked early in their game last year, and with USF already having four kicks blocked so far, there’s a decent chance Foley is going to send the dogs after them.
I’m way too overconfident about this game and that scares me, but nothing about this Owls team puts the fear of God into me. Sharga will meet his match this week and his name is Nico Sawtelle. That is a key match up for the Bulls defensively. If Sawtelle can neutralize Sharga’s effectiveness and the rest of the defense rallies to the ball, Temple has no shot at winning this game.