Defense shines, carries USF to win over Temple

USF’s secondary leads the nation with 12 interceptions in 2017. THE ORACLE/CHAVELI GUZMAN

For USF’s defense, the 43-7 rout of Temple last week was revenge, domination and record breaking all in one.

Playing exactly eleven months after they were embarrassed by Temple and its 528 yards of total offense last fall, the Bulls held the Owls to 85 yards of total offense and forced six turnovers Thursday night.

The 85 yards were the lowest amount allowed to a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) program in school history, while the takeaways were one away from tying the program record.

“I think we’ve (the defense) only scratched the surface,” senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez said post game. “I think we have a lot more game, especially when we get those younger guys to come along and they’re able to play, you’ll be able to see something that’s pretty serious.”

No FBS team allowed fewer yards than USF did in Week 4.

“Negative four (rushing) yards by us, three-hundred yards by them, and the turnovers,” Temple coach Geoff Collins said. “Six turnovers. You’re not gonna win very many games turning the ball over six times.”

A key priority heading into the game was finding a way to slow down Temple running back, Ryquell Armstead, who had 205 yards and two TD’s versus USF in 2016.

The Bulls did just that, limiting Armstead to four yards on 11 carries and avenged a statement made by Armstead after last year’s win.

“The holes were wide open,” Armstead, now a junior, said after Temple won 46-30 last season. “Anyone could have run through them.”

Playing a big part in limiting Armstead, Sanchez had some words of his own.

“I mean, I guess you feel like you have to back up your talk,” Sanchez said. “I think (it feels great to limit their run game) after the comments they made last year, absolutely.”

On the offensive side of the ball, USF failed to execute inside Temple’s 30-yard line – where they started six drives due to an errant punt and turnovers – and ended the game settling for five field goals, with kicker Emilio Nadelman making all three.

“We had two 100-yard rushers and I know we didn’t produce the touchdowns, but we got the field goals and we can always get better with all of the dropped balls and the penalties,” coach Charlie Strong said. “One of the penalties was on me, but we can’t have penalties.”

For the second game in a row, running backs Darius Tice (15 rushes, 117 yards, 2 TD’s) and D’Ernest Johnson (24, 106) both ran for over 100 yards.

Quinton Flowers, who ran for 59 yards and two touchdowns himself, had his worst game throwing the ball since 2015, going 8-20 for 96 yards.

“You give us the ball that many times, it’s only right we put it in the end zone,” Tice said. “Like I said, our defense is playing lights out and they gave us excellent field position on a lot of those turnovers, so it was only right we returned the favor to those guys.”