Five takeaways from the Owls' comeback victory Saturday.
Earlier this year, Temple defensive end Quincy Roche was named the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the week, and the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder played at that level Saturday against USF.
Temple trailed, 17-0, at halftime before scoring 27 unanswered points in the second half, but Roche was dominant in both halves.
For the game, the redshirt sophomore had a team-high nine tackles, including two for loss and a sack. He also had a fumble recovery in the third quarter that led to a Temple field goal. Roche has been inconsistent this season. This was his best game since his player-of-the-week honors in a 31-17 win over Tulsa, a game in which he had eight tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.
He had gone six games without a sack before Saturday. Against USF, he was just too quick for the line, consistently beating blockers to the spot in the running game and forcing plenty of pressure against quarterback Blake Barnett.
Roche has great quickness, and if he develops more consistency over the next two seasons, he'll be able to play at the next level.
Senior safety Delvon Randall went his first eight games without an interception, which was surprising because he entered the season with eight career picks. He has intercepted a pass in each of the last three games. His leaping, one-handed interception in the third quarter might have been Temple's most impressive play of the year.
Had he not made the interception, USF's Ryeshene Bronson, who was right behind him, might have caught the ball. It was Randall's 11th career interception, showing what a ballhawk he has been. None of the previous 10 had the degree of difficulty as the one against USF.
During the previous two weeks, Temple allowed 99 points in a 52-40 loss at Central Florida and a 59-49 win at Houston. The common factor was that the Owls were facing the two best dual-threat quarterbacks in the AAC and even the nation in UCF's McKenzie Milton and Houston's D'Eriq King. The Owls have had trouble with quarterbacks who display dynamic running and accurate passing.
Saturday, Temple had to face more of a pocket passer in Barnett. He isn't a major running threat, so the Owls had one less thing to worry about. It was reflected in their defensive effort. They sacked Barnett only twice but put plenty of heat on him, often forcing him to rush his throws. He completed 14 of 23 passes for just 82 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.
USF did rush for 184 yards, but only 40 came after halftime. The Bulls ran between the tackles and then broke to the outside effectively in the first half, but the running lanes were clogged after intermission. Roche was a big part of that, as was defensive tackle Michael Dogbe, who had eight tackles, including one for loss.
Owls quarterback Anthony Russo had a solid game, completing 20 of 34 passes for 264 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. What Russo did against USF, and basically what he has done all season — is take what the defense gives him and use all his weapons.
Russo completed passes to 11 players Saturday, including defensive tackle Dan Archibong, who had a 1-yard reception while lining up at tight end. Travon Williams, who had one catch entering the game, had two receptions in one drive for the Owls.
Ventell Bryant had the best game with four receptions for 76 yards, one of six Owls players to have multiple receptions.
USF's defensive game plan was to do anything possible to stop Ryquell Armstead, and the Bulls succeeded. A week after he rushed for 210 yards and six touchdowns against Houston, Armstead rushed for 64 and a 1-yard TD on 26 carries. Armstead did break away for one 22-yard run, but other than that, USF did a good job containing him.