Scott desperate for second conference win over Temple

The Bulls are 0-4 in previous trips to Temple, including a 37-28 loss in their first trip to Philadelphia in 2012. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Hoping to snag a win over Temple for the second year in a row, South Florida will travel to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The Owls (2-6, 0-4) traveled to Tampa last year, and went home with a 31-14 loss. That is USF’s (1-7, 0-4) only conference win under coach Jeff Scott.

South Florida has high hopes based on last year’s performance, but Scott told them that the team’s win last year doesn’t guarantee a win this time.

The Bulls are ranked last in the conference, and the Owls are right above them. Temple has a comparable record to USF, and will be coming off a 27-20 loss to Navy.

“I think they’re very similar to us in a lot of ways,” Scott said. “They’ve been close to beating Rutgers early in the season and then last week with an overtime loss there to Navy. They’re going to be hungry and it’s going to be a good battle for us.”

There is a completely different defense compared to when USF saw them last year. There are only two returning senior starters on Temple’s defense, cornerbacks Cameron Ruiz and Keyshawn Paul.

Ruiz had 31 total tackles in the 2021 season and Paul had 24 which is not much compared to the Owls current leading freshman cornerback Jalen McMurray who has 33 so far this season.

“I think they’ve got [two] returning starters on defense,” Scott said. “And for them that is a really good thing because they’ve completely changed their defense from last year to where it is this year.”

Temple’s defense last year marked 15 sacks for a total of 104 yards. This season so far, the Owls have nearly doubled that number with 29 sacks and 158 yards. They are also ranked No. 4 in the country for team tackles for loss with 70 within eight games.

Junior linebacker Layton Jordan is a key player in the Owls defense. He is currently No. 18 in the country for six sacks in eight games. Jordan also has 27 solo tackles.

“Very similar to the other defenses that we played the last few weeks up to this point,” Scott said. “Really good up front. You gotta be really careful in your pass protection and that’s gonna be a big matchup again for us this week on offense.”

USF’s offensive line will be the answer to a strong Temple defensive front. Scott said he is thankful to have senior offensive lineman Brad Cecil back to share his leadership, work ethic and discipline with his teammates.

“Brad’s everything that you want on the field off the field,” Scott said. “We got a lot of younger players there on the offensive line that are watching and learning. Brian has been a great role model for them and we’ll definitely be missing [him] after the season.”

Last year, senior running back Jared Mangham aided the Bulls in their last win over the Owls, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns. However, Mangham will not be present on Saturday due to his injury. Scott said he is unsure as to when Mangham will return.

“It may be a situation where he needs to take these last four weeks mentally and physically to get healthy and maybe have an opportunity to come back next year if that’s what he chooses,” Scott said.

Despite the absence of Mangham and the strength of Temple’s defensive line, Scott said the team is working to be able to say they overcame adversity at the end of the season. A win on the road this week would be a great opportunity for that, he said.

“There’s definitely some things that we’re not going to be able to accomplish that we wanted to accomplish because of where we are,” Scott said. “But, there’s also enough games left that we can push this thing forward where we feel really good.”

USF heads to Philadelphia to play Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.