Temple football

Temple commits 6 turnovers in blowout loss to No. 21 South Florida

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Temple commits 6 turnovers in blowout loss to No. 21 South Florida

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- An improved defense is setting up No. 21 South Florida for a potentially big season.

The Bulls forced six turnovers and held defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple to minus-4 yards rushing Thursday night in a 43-7 victory that extends the team's winning streak to a school-record nine straight games.

Darius Tice rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and USF (4-0) scored at least 30 points in a nation-leading 21st consecutive game.

Dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers and an explosive offense usually keys the team's success, however that's beginning to change.

The team had four interceptions Thursday night, boosting its season total to 12 in four games. The Bulls had eight all last season, when USF prospered despite having a leaky defense.

In part because of the strides made on defense, the Bulls have not lost since falling by 16 points to Temple last October in Philadelphia -- a setback that wound up costing them a berth in the AAC championship game.

Coach Charlie Strong said rather than dwell on what transpired last year, he and his players focused on the importance of setting a tone for this season's conference race.

"When you play with passion and enthusiasm, that's the kind of performance you'll get," Strong said.

Tice scored on runs of 47 and 3 yards. Flowers, coming off accounting for 386 yards and five TDs in a 24-point blowout of Illinois , also ran for two touchdowns to take sole possession of first place on the Bulls' career rushing TD list with 34.

USF's defense, meanwhile, dominated from the start, pressuring Temple's Logan Marchi and coming up with the first three interceptions of the season thrown by the Owls quarterback.

Backup quarterback Frank Nutile was intercepted once, and the Owls also lost two fumbles.

"You're not going to lead very many games when you turn the ball over six times," Temple coach Geoff Collins said.

"The thing that we talked about all week was being plus-three in the turnover margin," Collins added. "They're way too good of a team to be negative, especially negative six."

The Owls (2-2) were held to minus-4 yards net rushing and were outgained 408 yards to 85. Marchi threw for 767 yards, five TDs and no interceptions in his first three starts for Temple, but was just 3 of 13 for 32 yards on Thursday night.

"We've got to get better. We've got to protect the ball, which has been a trademark for us for three entire games," Collins said. "We let that slip a little bit tonight, but we'll get that corrected."

Defensive end Jacob Martin scored Temple's only touchdown, sacking Flowers and forcing a fumble that the defensive end returned 44 yards in the second quarter.

The teams have developed a little bit of a rivalry over the past three seasons. USF knocked off the then-No. 21 Owls 44-23 in Tampa two years ago and Ryquell Armstead rushed for 210 yards and two TDs to key Temple's 46-30 victory in Philadelphia last October.

Both teams finished 7-1 in league play, with the Owls representing the Eastern Division in the AAC championship game for the second straight year under former coach Matt Rhule, who left for Baylor in December.

Less than a week later, Strong -- fired at Texas after three seven-loss seasons -- landed at USF, which lost former coach Willie Taggart to Oregon.

Strong inherited a team that won a school-record 11 games and has the Bulls off to their best start since 2011.

The takeaway
Temple: The Owls have lopsided losses to Notre Dame and USF wrapped around close wins over Villanova and Massachusetts. The defense has been vulnerable to both the run and pass. Offensively, first-year coach Geoff Collins has to get Marchi and Armstead, who gained 3 yards on 11 carries Thursday night, back on track.

South Florida: Flowers is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, however the Bulls are hardly a one-man show on offense. What's becoming clear as the season progresses, though, is a much-improved defense has a chance to make this a truly special year for USF, which has never won a conference championship.

Poll implications
Playing two consecutive week-night games on national television has given USF some much appreciated attention, however it remains to be seen how much of a difference it makes in the next AP poll. The Bulls climbed one spot after last week's dominant performance against Illinois, and it's difficult to imagine them climbing much higher solely on their rout of Temple.

Up next
Temple: Conference home opener against Houston a week from Saturday.

South Florida: Play a Saturday game for the first time in four weeks, traveling to East Carolina for conference road opener on Sept. 30.

Temple at No. 21 USF: Owls look to defend AAC title vs. this season's favorite

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CSN

Temple at No. 21 USF: Owls look to defend AAC title vs. this season's favorite

Temple (2-1, 0-0 AAC) vs. No. 21 South Florida (3-0, 0-0 AAC)
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Florida
Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

It was another disjointed effort last week for Geoff Collins’ Temple team, but, when the horn sounded, it was another notch in the win column.

Things got hairy again for the Owls —  just as they did the prior week vs. Villanova — and Temple had to fend off an underwhelming UMass team for a 29-21 victory last week at the Linc.

But the mood is about to change.

That’s because the Owls on Thursday have a date in Tampa vs. AAC heavyweight No. 21 South Florida.

Head coach Charlie Strong —  formerly of Texas — and the Bulls, the preseason AAC champion pick and the “Group of Six” darling among many pundits, are 3-0 on the season and are coming off a 47-23 romp over Illinois last week.

The Bulls are an offensive juggernaut, having scored 120 points over their first three games. They’ve also scored at least 30 points in their last 20 games, the longest such streak in the nation.

Needless to say, the Owls are in for a stern test.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup.

Scouting Temple
Even though true freshman Todd Centeio took a handful of snaps and helped move the ball last week, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi is still the guy for Temple at the QB spot. Last week vs. UMass, Marchi had his best showing to date, going 22 for 37 with 248 yards and three touchdown tosses. Starts to games haven’t necessarily been the best for Marchi as taking time to settle in has been a prevalent theme throughout his first three contests. A sound start for Marchi will be imperative in a hostile environment on Thursday. On the season, Marchi has thrown for 767 yards and five TDs.

Marchi has spread the ball around this season, as the Owls have four wideouts with over 100 yards receiving — Keith Kirkwood (185), Isaiah Wright (180), Adonis Jennings (146) and Ventell Bryant (107). Bryant’s numbers come in just two games as he missed the opener vs. Notre Dame with a hamstring injury. While Wright led the way last week with four grabs for 69 yards andaa TD, Kirkwood has been Marchi’s favorite target. The 6-foot-3 senior has 12 grabs and two TDs on the season.

The Owls’ running game has yet to get our of its early-season funk. Junior Ryquell Armstead broke off a 56-yarder last week, but still just finished with 35 yards on his other 16 carries.  He’s Temple’s leading rusher this year with 177 yards. The Owls have just 283 yards (113th in the nation) on the ground through two games and just a single rushing touchdown — a 1-yard dive by fullback Nick Sharga.

To say the Temple defense has been inconsistent this year would be an understatement. After the Owls were scorched on the ground by Notre Dame in the opener to the tune of 422 yards and 5 TDs, the last two games have seen the Owls get carved up through the air. Through three games, Temple is 119th in the land with 488.7 yards allowed per game. The Owls are 116th in the nation with 1466 total yards allowed and 120th with 943 passing yards allowed. Needless to say, there better be some improvement this week or things could get ugly … fast.

Scouting South Florida
South Florida’s prolific offense, which is averaging 40 points per game over the first three contests of the season, is lead by star senior QB Quinton Flowers, just as it has been for the last several seasons. Flowers is the Bulls’ motor that can send them into overdrive at the blink of an eye. This season, the shifty Flowers has thrown for 678 yards and eight TDs. A steady threat with his legs, Flowers has also rushed for 243 yards and two TDs. He’s got a history of being a thorn in the Owls’ side. In South Florida’s 2015 win over Temple, Flowers threw for 230 yards and two TDs while rushing for 90 yards and another score. Last season, he threw for two more scores while rushing for 90 more yards and a touchdown.

Flowers is a legit rushing threat to the point where Temple deployed Haason Reddick as the QB spy when the teams met last season. But Flowers is only the second leading rusher on the Bulls. The top spot belongs to senior Darius Tice, who’s finally getting a chance to be a lead back as Marlon Mack has moved on to the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts. This season, Tice has 256 yards and four scores on the ground

On the outside, senior wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the Bulls’ leading receiver with 202 total yards and two TDs. Last week vs. Illinois, he had four grabs for 96 yards and a TD. Temple’s secondary needs to be wary.

There are points to be had on South Florida’s defense, which allows a smidge under 21 points per game. The Bulls are known to let up yardage through the air as they give up 234 per game, in the bottom tier of the nation. It adds to why Temple needs to get Marchi into a rhythm early Thursday night. If the Temple passing game gets going early, Kirkwood, Jennings, Bryant and crew could find favorable matchups and do some damage. On the other hand, Thursday may not be the best time for Armstead and the rushing game to scoot out of the rut they’ve been stuck in. The Bulls’ rushing defense is stout, giving up just 89.3 yards per game, good for 14th in the nation during the young season.

History
Thursday evening will mark the fourth all-time meeting between Temple and South Florida in a series that dates back to 2012. The Owls hold a 2-1 series advantage, including a win in the last meeting — a 46-30 decision last October in Philadelphia.

Storyline to watch: Can Temple slow a speedy QB?
In recent years under Matt Rhule and former defensive coordinator Phil Snow, the Owls had stingy defenses, but those stingy defenses would have their struggles, sometimes mighty struggles, against QBs who were adept at using their legs.

While the core group of those players have moved on, there is still evidence that the same issue sticks within these Owls. In the season opener, Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush burnt the Owls for 106 yards and a TD on the ground.

While things have settled some with Temple’s rushing defense over the past two weeks, the unit hasn’t faced a mobile QB during that time. Flowers is an entirely different animal who can change a game with his legs in the blink of an eye. It’s almost like pick your poison. Is Temple going to let Flowers attempt to beat them with his arm or legs? It can’t be both, because he can use both with the best of them.

What’s at stake: AAC East supremacy
South Florida is the AAC darling this season, but the fact of the matter is that Temple, while flush with brand new faces, is still the defending conference champ and the two-time division champ.

The Owls can stake their claim to being a legit threat and make a statement in the AAC. Or they can have a statement made at their expense.

Prediction
With the way South Florida has been steamrolling teams and the experience edge, especially at quarterback, the Bulls just have too much talent and will assert dominance in this one. They will just overwhelm the young Owls.

South Florida 38, Temple 23

Temple sneaks past UMass behind Quincy Roche's monster breakout game

Temple sneaks past UMass behind Quincy Roche's monster breakout game

BOX SCORE

In the beginning of the week, as Temple began its preparations for Friday’s game against UMass, Quincy Roche had an inkling this was his chance to break out. That after watching Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike torture quarterbacks last season, he was ready to introduce himself as the next potential great Temple pass rusher.

Roche didn’t keep quiet, either, about his intentions. As the redshirt freshman became more acclimated, he assured junior safety Delvon Randall that this was his week.

“He told me that they weren’t going to be able to block him,” Randall said, “and he came out and proved it. … He came out, he was balling. He was a different breed today.”

On Friday night, Roche announced his presence to the Minutemen with a commanding performance as the Owls escaped Lincoln Financial Field with a sometimes sloppy 29-21 win (see observations). It was Temple’s second straight win and second of the Geoff Collins era.

Roche didn’t waste any time tormenting UMass quarterback Andrew Ford. He sacked Ford twice and recorded three tackles for loss in the first quarter. That alone was impressive, but the night had just started for the Randallstown, Maryland, native.

After the Owls regained the lead at 10-7 with 1:04 remaining in the second quarter, Roche blew up the UMass offensive line, strip-sacked Ford and then recovered his own fumble. That turnover sprung the Owls to another quick touchdown before halftime.

When Roche went into the locker room at halftime, he had three sacks and four tackles for loss but no single play had a bigger impact on the outcome than the forced fumble.

“That was huge for us,” Collins said of Roche’s strip-sack. “That sparked the offense right before the first half [ended] and gave us some life going into halftime.”

With his three sacks Friday, Roche became the first Temple player since Tyler Matakevich against Cincinnati in 2015 to have a three-sack game. He finished with eight tackles and four tackles for loss, one shy of the American Athletic Conference record.

Collins described Roche as a “dynamic pass rusher,” and believes Roche is developing into an every-down player. While the sacks will put Roche on the map, it was the defensive end’s play on first and second down, Collins said, that impressed him most.

One play, in particular, stood out to Collins, when Roche broke up a UMass jet sweep, which the first-year head coach said was just as big of a play as the strip-sack.

Temple prepared for UMass to throw, Roche said, and the Minutemen did. Ford tossed 37 passes against the Temple secondary, which allowed 382 yards to Villanova last week, and came away with 377 yards, but the Owls’ pressure proved too much.

While Roche led the charge, the Owls sacked Ford nine times. Sharif Finch and Sam Franklin each had two, while Jacob Martin and Isaiah Graham-Mobley each had one.

“Quincy is a tremendous player but that performance today,” Temple cornerback Mike Jones said, “it shocked me. He makes a lot of plays in practice, but that was a big-time stage for him and for him to make all those players, that was tremendous.

“It helped us a lot. But I think the D-backs, the secondary, we were holding onto our coverages. We were both helping each other out.”

The Owls introduced a few new wrinkles into the offensive game plan, as true freshman Todd Centeio saw his first collegiate action on the first drive of the second quarter. Centeio replaced redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, who made his third start and injected life into an offense that had another slow start.

Centeio completed two passes for 20 yards and picked up a first down, but as the Owls reached the red zone, Marchi came back in. Temple failed to convert on a 3rd-and-3, and then had a 43-yard field goal attempt blocked. Collins said they had a specific package for Centeio, but they exhausted it by the time they reached the red zone. 

“We knew all along that Toddy was going to get in this week,” Collins said, “and we were prepping him and we finally felt he was game-ready and he provided a spark.”

Marchi had a stagnant start against UMass, but he eventually settled in. He heated up in the second quarter and finished the first half on a high note. He hit Adonis Jennings for a 30-yard touchdown with a well-placed ball after rolling out right, and then an 11-yarder to Keith Kirkwood with 10 seconds left in the half. He finished the game 22 of 37 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Marchi has yet to throw an interception, and through three games, Temple’s offense, which has looked inept at times, has just one fumble lost.

With Marchi, Temple began to showcase his athleticism more than it did in the first two games. The Owls ran several options with Marchi under center and he ran the ball seven times for 13 yards. While the options didn't hit paydirt, it wasn't something the Owls previously showed.

“We talked about all week using the quarterback run game a little bit more,” Collins said, “because Logan is ridiculously athletic. We want to make sure we use those things, use that package, use that skill set. He made some really nice plays on the run.”

Temple has another short week ahead, but perhaps its stiffest challenge of the season lies ahead Thursday night in Tampa against conference favorite, No. 22 South Florida, which has scored at least 30 points in its last 20 games, the longest streak in the nation.

The nine-sack performance against UMass was a result of Temple being able to rotate, Collins said, and going forward, it’ll be key as the Owls enter conference play.

“We have to continue that going forward,” Collins said, “especially as we get in our league with the dynamic offenses that we are going to have to face each week.

"Especially the one coming up here on Thursday night on ESPN. We have to be ready to rotate those guys and keep them fresh.”