Despite a slow start and some continual offensive struggles, the #22 USF Bulls forced six Temple turnovers and allowed just 85 total yards in a 43-7 win over the Owls on Thursday night in Tampa.
Again, that’s six turnovers and 85 total yards allowed.
“When you play with passion and you play with enthusiasm, then that’s the kind of performance you are going to get,” USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “It begins with the defense with six turnovers which is really great.”
Leading only 3-0 at the end of the first quarter and tallying just 36 total yards of offense themselves, USF senior running back Darius Tice broke through for a 47-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to extend the Bulls lead to 10-0. Tice finished with 15 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
It was the third career game in which Tice has rushed for over 100 yards.
“I look at us on offense, and we had two 100-yard rushers. I know we didn’t produce the touchdowns, but we got the field goals,” Strong added. “We cant have all those dropped balls or all those penalties.”
USF senior quarterback Quinton Flowers, attempting to add to his resume for a Heisman Trophy nomination, didn’t help his cause with a sub-par performance through the air. Flowers finished 8-for-20 for 96 yards.
Flowers did rush for 59 yards and two touchdowns however, breaking the USF record for most career rushing touchdowns with his first, passing Marlon Mack who held the previous mark of 32.
The Bulls did extend the nations longest streak scoring 30 or more points to 22 straight games.
USF (4-0) led 20-7 at halftime and allowed just 41 total yards to the Temple offense in the first two quarters. The Owls rushed for -22 yards in the first half, with their only points of the game coming in the second quarter on a 44-yard scoop and score by Jacob Martin.
Senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez, held off the stat sheet in last week’s win over Illinois, had seven tackles and a sack for a buzzing Bulls defense.
“I think we just have guys that were tired of losing on defense,” Sanchez said. “We were blitzing them and making their quarterback feel uncomfortable and we made the plays.”
The 85 total yards allowed by the USF defense was the fewest ever against any FBS team, and tied for fourth-least of all-time. At one point in the third quarter, Temple had six turnovers coupled with just three first downs.
“We played great. We played for each other and put everything on the line,” said Bulls senior cornerback Deatrick Nichols. “When we think about defense, we think about the dirty work. We don’t want to shine...we just keep grinding on defense.”
Nichols had three tackles, two interceptions, two pass breakups and a forced fumble in the game.
While the defense certainly gave the Bulls offense every chance for more points by forcing turnovers and winning solid field position, USF settled for field goals the majority of the second half. Senior kicker Emilio Nadelman was 5-for-5, his longest coming from 44 yards.
“We didn’t have a great night on offense tonight but we played well in the kicking game and we played well on defense,” Strong added. “Now the offense knows they are going to have to come in next week and do something... so that’s good.”
More of our initial thoughts and immediate reactions about the win can be found here. USF will return to conference play next Saturday at East Carolina with a 12 p.m kickoff. in Greenville.