Not a whole lot went right for Temple in its 20-point loss to South Florida on Saturday night.
The Owls’ 34-14 defeat in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday night can be attributed to a lack of defensive depth and a scrambled offense.
Temple (3-4, 1-2 AAC) was coming off a bye week after a 52-3 beating by then-No. 5 Cincinnati on Oct. 8, and South Florida (2-5, 1-2) was coming off a 32-31 loss to Tulsa on Oct. 16.
Going into this game, Temple had several injury-related challenges, such as being without offensive lineman Michael Niese and safeties Amir Tyler and DaeSean Winston. But at least receiver Randle Jones was back.
Both teams play a similar style of offense, but the Bulls found their rhythm in the run game.
Temple’s rush defense couldn’t make the stops they needed and USF capitalized on every open hole they found.
As for the offense, Temple had no mobility to create explosive plays, which led to multiple three-and-outs.
The Owls have lost two straight and next play Central Florida on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Temple’s rush defense
South Florida recorded 421 rushing yards.
From sloppy tackles to miscommunication on coverage, the defense struggled to close open gaps and make the stops to keep South Florida from converting first downs.
In the first half, South Florida had success on three of its four fourth-down conversions and recorded 214 rushing yards.
Running back Jaren Mangham, who had two touchdowns and 152 yards rushing, had the first touchdown on a 1-yard run up the middle in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Temple changed its defensive alignment to a four-man front from the usual three-man one.
South Florida has a running back by committee, which features Mangham, Kelley Joiner, and Brian Battie. The three totaled 355 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
A slow offensive start
The Owls couldn’t get anything going on offense until late in the second quarter after they are already down 14.
Temple had one possession in the first quarter which ended when quarterback D’Wan Mathis threw an interception in the red zone.
But the Owls did bounce back, starting when Mathis hit Jones for a 70-yard touchdown.
It was his first touchdown since Sept. 18 against Boston College.
USF has one of the worst rushing defenses in the AAC, allowing 226.2 rushing yards per game and 6.0 yards per attempt. But the Owls had trouble on the ground until Edward Saydee scored on a 1-yard run up the center in the third quarter.
“We shot ourselves in the foot tonight,” Mathis said. “We gotta bounce back.”
Temple cornerback Keyshawn Paul had quite the play on special teams.
After USF couldn’t execute in the end zone on its first drive with the ball, the Bulls settled for a field goal, but a high snap led to a fumble and Paul returned the ball 95 yards, just short of a touchdown in the first quarter.