As we roll into November, USF sits at 4-4 with a grueling four game stretch to finish the season. If the Bulls want to go bowling, they will have to get at least two wins in that stretch. Their first opportunity comes tonight on national television against Temple.
The Owls come into the game 5-3 overall, but losers of their last two games by a combined score of 108-42. Can USF extend the Owls’ losing streak or will Temple leave Raymond James with win number six? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers and schemes as we search for that answer.
General Game Management
Marino Rule Plus
For the second game in a row, USF has the better third down offense. After an abysmal start to the season, the Bulls have risen to 73rd in the country. Going into the UConn game, the Bulls ranked 124th. Temple comes into the game ranked 87th.
While Temple has struggled on third downs offensively, their defense has excelled. The Owls rank 30th in opponent third down conversions. Conversely, USF has really struggled to get opponents off the field on third downs. The Bulls defense ranks 118th out of 130 schools.
Third downs are split between the two teams, but USF has a big advantage in turnover margin and average starting field position. USF ranks 10th nationally in turnover margin while Temple is tied for 88th. USF has a four yard advantage in average starting field position. The national average is said to be the 29.5 yard line, so Temple typically starts with below average field position.
Yards Per Play (YPP) and Explosive Plays
The YPP battle somewhat follows the third down numbers. USF is ahead on offense, while Temple is ahead on defense. The Bulls rank 84th in offensive YPP and the Owls rank 98th. On defense Temple, who is ranked 37th, has a slight edge on the 42nd ranked Bulls.
The explosive play battle plays out in similar fashion.
USF has caused more explosive plays on offense, while Temple has allowed fewer on defense. USF ranks 57th offense and 56th on defense. Temple is ranked 80th on offense and 49th on defense.
For the most part, USF and Temple look statistically similar. Even their opponents have been pretty similar.
The Bulls and Owls have three common opponents thus far (SMU, ECU, and Georgia Tech). The remaining opponents have been pretty close statistically. While Temple has played better offenses and defenses according to YPP, the differences between the average rankings aren’t that large. For example, the difference between the 69th and the 64th ranked offense was .06 yards per play. On defense, the difference between the 53rd and 63rd ranked unit was .09 yards.
Statistically, the Temple defense is the best singular unit in the game. However, in a ranking of both team’s offensive and defensive units, USF would have the second and third ranked units, with the Temple offense bringing up the rear. Should be interesting to see which unit makes the biggest impact on Thursday.
Temple Offense- Philly Not So Special
The Temple offense has struggled this season. Even though they run more than they pass, the Owls are 110th in the country in yards per rushing attempt. They are slightly better in yards per pass attempt, ranking 84th.
Temple tries to run the ball in a variety of ways. They seem to a base zone run team but will us motion and different personnel to gain advantages in the run game. In the passing game, Temple has some talented players at receiver. The Owls have three players with over 40 receptions and their leading receiver and big play threat is Branden Mack (1). Let’s take a closer look at the Temple offensive schemes.
Temple hasn’t produced statistically, but they do have some talent on the offensive side of the ball. USF will have to play well to keep them down, but the Bulls should be up to the task.
Temple Defense- Broad Street Bullies
The Temple defense has been the strength of the team this season. They rank 57th in yards per rush allowed and 31st in yards per pass attempt allowed.
Temple is multiple on defense but list themselves as a 4-3 base. Their 4-3 looks more like a 4-2-5 due to their outside linebacker who is really a linebacker/safety hybrid player named Sam Franklin (4). Franklin attended Citrus High School in Inverness, FL and was a very good high school wide receiver in addition to his prowess on defense. The Owls have a lot of players, like Franklin, who are versatile. Let’s take a look at their schemes and see how they use those versatile players.
The Temple defense is a tough, versatile unit. They have been able to both get pressure on the quarterback this year and stop the run. Their ability to get a pass rush with four rushers also allows them to play a variety of coverages However, they have also given up some big plays. They play a tough, physical brand of football and will provide a great test for the Bulls offense.
Temple is a good football team, but they have been inconsistent. Their last two games ended in blowout losses (SMU and UCF), but three weeks ago they beat Memphis. They have some dynamic players on offense and a tough, versatile defense. Which Temple team shows up in Tampa? The one who beat Memphis or the team that lost to Buffalo?
USF has also been inconsistent this year. They have beaten bad teams and lost to the better teams on their schedule. The Bulls have a great opportunity ahead of them. Win on national television and you set yourself up for a strong finish. Lose and your odds of going to a bowl game drastically decrease. USF seemed to turn somewhat of a corner against ECU. Will that carry over into this tough four game stretch? We will get some answers on Thursday.