Ah, Temple. Yes, that named haunted USF Football last year keeping them out of an American Athletic Conference Championship appearance. Tonight the Bulls will open conference play against that same team but with some changes.
The Match-Up Of First-Year Coaches
It’s the rematch USF has been looking forward to for a year. Both teams finished 7-1 in the AAC last year with Temple representing the East Division in the Conference Championship against Navy.
Now fast forward, and the teams meet again but with a new coaching staff. First-year USF head coach Charlie Strong addressed the anticipated rematch in this week’s press conference.
“It’s going to be a very physical game,” Strong said. “We know what Temple did to us last year. Some things were said. I just told our players, you can’t worry about last season. We’ve just got to stay locked in, and just go play our game.”
Of course, USF isn’t alone, first-year head coach Geoff Collins, who replaced Matt Rhule when the Temple coach relocated to Baylor, knows this game will be challenging.
“There’s a healthy respect for their players, a healthy respect for their program,” Collins said during Temple’s press conference, per the Associated Press. “They know what it means to the division. They know what it means to the conference.”
Luckily both first-year head coaches inherited teams with impressive talent. Here are the key matchups to watch for in tonight’s game.
Quarterback Play Will Test Both Defenses
Shocker, the defense will have another significant role in this weeks game. The Bulls’ defense will face Temple QB Logan Marchi, who is by far the most accomplished passer they have played against this year.
Marchi has thrown for 787 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in three games. As if that’s not enough to worry about, Temple returns standout running back Ryquell Armstead, who put up 210 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulls last year.
But already USF has seen a massive shift in defensive play since Strong came to Tampa. The Bulls are tackling better, playing more aggressive at the line of scrimmage and have eight interceptions on the season.
All three of those improvements will be key in tonight’s game at Raymond James Stadium.
“We have to stop the run,” the Bulls coach said. “If we can force them to throw the football, then that gives us a chance to apply pressure and do the things we can do.”
“He’s a really good athlete,” Collins said of Flowers, per the AP.
Flowers, Johnson and Tice each had over 100 yards of rushing in last weeks win over Illinois and contributed to USF’s 680 total yards.
Alongside USF’s dangerous run game, the Bulls have a talented field of wide receivers such as, Tyre McCants and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and tight ends Mitchell Wilcox and Elkanah Dillon that give Flowers multiple scoring options.
Where To Watch
USF will receive another week of national attention with tonight’s matchup being broadcasted on ESPN from Raymond James Stadium.
“What it does across the country, it gives people a chance to really see our program,” said Strong USF’s weekly press conference. “We’re a top 25 ranked team, so now they get a chance to really watch us.”
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Raymond James Stadium
Radio: 820 am
Video courtesy of USF Athletics.