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OPINION: USF–Temple takeaways

USF’s 39-37 loss to Temple cut the deepest because the Bulls contested and held the lead for a significant portion of the game. The costs of mistakes aren’t cheap, however, and they were abundant for USF. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

The 24-hour rule is something coach Jeff Scott has talked about all season. It emphasizes the importance of putting a game in the rearview mirror after 24 hours, no matter the outcome.

After the Bulls’ 39-37 loss to Temple on Saturday, it will be a hard rule to follow.

This one was a heartbreaker.

Fumbles end upset hopes

Newly appointed starting quarterback Jordan McCloud played rather well throughout Saturday’s game against Temple.

He went 15-of-26 for 182 yards and three touchdowns, a solid game. On top of that, he did not throw a single interception.

However, he played a role in three USF fumbles, one of which changed the course of the game.

The most devastating fumble came in the final quarter. The Bulls ran an option play deep inside their own territory. McCloud and running back Kelley Joiner had a communication error that led to the ball falling to the ground. 

Temple defensive lineman Arnold Ebiketie scooped the ball up and ran it back all the way to give the Owls a late lead, one they would never relinquish.

Aside from turnovers, McCloud had an encouraging game. If he can get over his fumbling woes, the Bulls may have a chance to win some games in the latter half of the season.

Noah Johnson — possible red zone specialist

Scott named McCloud the starting quarterback Tuesday, with the sophomore beating out a handful of other quarterbacks, including graduate student Noah Johnson, who joined the Bulls this offseason via transfer from Alcorn State.

Johnson, who is more known for his dual-threat ability, saw some snaps on Saturday despite McCloud being named the starter.

He ran for 5 yards on five attempts.

These snaps largely occurred when the Bulls were in the red zone. Johnson even recorded a rushing touchdown, a two-yard scamper.

This could be the role we see Johnson in for the remainder of the season. The prospect of Johnson coming in to handle red zone opportunities is interesting to say the least.

Here’s hoping he’s not thrown into impossible two-point conversion situations like what happened toward the end of this game.

Costly late mistakes

With 10 minutes left, USF had the ball and a one-point lead.

Then, the aforementioned fumble ensued and the Owls took the lead. Temple got the ball back just over a minute later and added another touchdown, making the score 39-31 in its favor.

Despite the Bulls’ mistakes thus far, they were still very much in the game in the fourth quarter. 

With 4:28 left, McCloud drove the offense down the field and capped off a 72-yard drive with a Leonard Parker one-yard touchdown carry.

Then, the Bulls used a timeout.

A questionable call, as having all three timeouts were critical in the event USF did not convert the two-point conversion. 

Having three timeouts would have given the defense an opportunity to get a stop and give the ball back to the offense with approximately 45 seconds to get into field-goal range.

The Bulls’ two-point attempt was a designed quarterback run to the short side of the field. 

It got stuffed and the game was virtually over.

The use of the timeout was a gamble, and it proved to not be worth it. If the Bulls converted, tied the game and went on to win, it would’ve been a different story.

However, that’s not what happened.

USF’s young coaching staff is sure to learn from this game, and a tough loss like this will hopefully translate to more favorable results later down the line.