After a disappointing homecoming, USF heads to the City of Brotherly Love to face the Temple Owls. Philadelphia is a tough town, filled with tough people. It’s also a town that loves the underdog. It’s the birthplace of Rocky Balboa for crying out loud.
One of my biggest mentors in coaching is a Philly guy. He loves to say that “To you, Rocky is just a movie. For us it was real life”. Well if you’re looking for a real-life underdog story in Philadelphia this weekend, look no further than the Bulls.
Temple has only played one game so we must take these numbers with a grain of salt. They had a pretty good performance by the numbers in game one against Navy. The Owls are top 20 in yards per play (YPP) both offensively and defensively. USF is 68th out of 76 team in offensive YPP. Even after last week’s disappointing performance, the Bulls defense is still in the top 30.
USF’s biggest struggles continue to be on third down. Neither the Bulls offense or defense has performed well on the “money” down. Temple’s numbers are skewed somewhat by the lack of games, but they performed very well on third downs offensively. Their defensive struggles can somewhat be explained by their opponent. Triple option teams are often amongst the very best in the country in third down conversion percentage. Even so, Navy had been struggling on third downs in previous games and Temple was unable to get them off the field. If USF can put themselves into third and manageable situations, they could possibly replicate this result.
Explosive plays seem pretty similar when looked at on a per game basis. Turnover margin and overall team talent are also quite similar. One advantage for Temple is that the Owls do have some very talented upperclassmen. Especially on the offensive side of the ball. Let’s take a look at the schemes those players will be running against USF on Saturday.
Offense- Italian Stallion
The Temple offense has some very talented players and does a good job using a variety of personnel groupings. The Owls are led by senior quarterback Anthony Russo (15) . Against Navy, Russo was used as a dual threat. The Owls ran some designed quarterback run game and packaged plays. When Temple wants to throw Russo has a group of talented receivers on the outside led by Branden Mack (1) and Jadan Blue (5) . Let’s look at how Temple attacked the Navy defense in game one.
Temple appears to have a balanced offense. In past seasons, Russo has been a little inconsistent. The Bulls will need Russo to be off his game to spring the upset.
Defense- Keep Moving Forward
While the Navy game gave us a good look at the Temple offense, we will get no good information on the Owl defense. The only thing we can gain by watching Temple defend the triple option is to check out some of the new Owl personnel. Temple was 123rd in returning production as they only returned 38% of their production from last years tough defense. While they lost a lot of players, they do return their coaches. So, let’s take a look at last year’s USF-Temple game to see how the Owls played the Bulls in 2019.
Temple was very aggressive on defense against USF last season. I would be shocked if the Owls didn’t play similarly on Saturday.
USF is the underdog. But like I mentioned above, Philly is an underdog town. Rocky Bullboa is gonna roll into town and lead the local children to the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art like a modern-day pied piper.
*Music Swells* And just like the movie, this Rocky is going to rise up. He’s going to perform over his head. He’s going to pull the upset. He’s going to wi- wait, what’s that? Rocky lost? Are you sure? Ahh…Well…Trying hard and playing a clean game is its own reward.