Gameday preview: South Florida

Matt Vender, OwlScoop.com Recruiting Analyst
Owl Scoop

AT A GLANCE

Temple (2-1) at South Florida (3-0)

Thursday, Sept. 21, Raymond James Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Television: ESPN

Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic

Head coaches:

Temple

Geoff Collins (Western Carolina ’94)

Overall record: 2-1 (first season)

Record at Temple: 2-1 (first season)

USF

Overall record: 56-37 (ninth season)

Record at USF: 3-0 (first season)

Key Players

Temple

QB Logan Marchi – 61 of 106 passing (57.5 completion percentage), five touchdowns, no turnovers and 7.24 yards per attempt.

RB Ryquell Armstead – 48 carries for 177 yards (3.7 yards per carry)

WR/DE Keith Kirkwood – 12 receptions for 185 yards (15.4 yards per catch), two touchdowns

WR Isaiah Wright – nine catches for 180 yards (20 yards per catch), one touchdown

S Delvon Randall – 28 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one sack

MLB Shaun Bradley – 18 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, forced fumble

USF

QB Quinton Flowers – 45 of 81 passing (55.6 completion percentage) for 678 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions; 61 carries for 243 yards (4 yards per carry), two touchdowns

RB Darius Trice – 48 carries for 256 yards (5.3 yards per carry), four touchdowns

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling – 14 catches for 202 yards (14.4 yards per catch), two touchdowns

WR Tyre McCants – five catches for 131 yards (26.2 yards per catch), two touchdowns

DT Bruce Hector – 11 tackles, five tackles for a loss, two sacks

LB Greg Reaves – 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks

When Temple’s on offense

While Temple managed a season-high 29 points in a win against Massachusetts Friday night, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude is still working to build an offensive identity and improve a struggling run game.

It seemed like Temple would be able to jump starts its run game last week against a UMass defense that came into the night allowing 210 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry on the ground. Armstead ran for a 56-yard gain on his second carry of the game and finished with 17 carries for 91 yards. The Owls finished with 119 rushing yards in total, 91 short of the average mark UMass had been giving up.

Through Temple’s first three games, the Owls are averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. And after racking up 14 touchdowns last season, Armstead has yet to produce a touchdown this season.

Temple coach Geoff Collins said establishing the run will be a priority against USF.

“That was a big emphasis for us last year,” Collins told reporters during his weekly Tuesday press conference. “That has been a big emphasis, finding where we need to run the ball. That is a big emphasis for us this week.”

USF has been sound against the run, allowing only 89.3 yards per game on the ground. The Bulls’ run defense ranks first in the American Athletic Conference.

The Owls are dealing with an injury along the offensive line, though. Starting left guard Jovahn Fair, a redshirt sophomore, is considered a “game-time decision” by Collins, who typically does not talk about injuries. Patenaude called Fair “questionable” to play, although he added that the injury is not a long-term concern.

If Temple is without Fair, redshirt senior Adrian Sullivan would be the likely replacement. Sullivan started in all 14 games last season at right guard. Patenaude said he feels the Owls have eight interchangeable offensive linemen. Redshirt junior Jaelin Robinson could also see action in Fair’s absence.

First-year starter Logan Marchi, a redshirt sophomore, has thrown for the most yards (765) through his first three career starts of any quarterback in Temple football history. The yard mark is also the most among all AAC quarterbacks through three games.

Marchi, who made the AAC’s weekly Honor Roll after throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns last week against UMass, received praise from Patenaude during Tuesday’s media availability.

“Logan is playing at an all-league level,” Patenaude said.

The Owls could work in true freshman quarterback Todd Centeio again this week. The West Palm Beach, Florida native made his college debut last week against UMass. He completed both of his pass attempts for 20 yards and ran twice for 10 yards.

Patenaude said Temple hopes to “expand” packages for Centeio. Collins would only say that the Owls have “looked at” and “worked” more packages for Centeio, who was pulled on third down in the red zone against UMass because his package had been “exhausted.”

The production from the tight end spot in the receiving game has been limited. Through the first three games, Temple’s tight ends have combined for three catches for 21 yards.

When Temple’s on defense

For Temple, the focus will be containing senior dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers.

And as Collins pointed out, USF has averaged 101 plays per game through its first three games.

Flowers, the reigning AAC Offensive Player of The Year, was limited to 187 yards on 11 of 19 passing and two touchdowns along with 14 carries for 90 yards and one touchdown in last October’s 46-30 loss at Temple. The Owls’ win ultimately punched a ticket to the conference championship game in Annapolis against Navy.

But when Temple last visited Raymond James Stadium in 2015, Flowers ran all over Tyler Matakevich and Phil Snow’s defense. Flowers completed 15 of 22 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns along with 18 carries for 90 yards and one touchdown.

“He’s a good player,” Collins said of Flowers. “He’s a really good athlete. Everybody knows that. The thing that’s impressive is his poise, how he spreads the ball. The situation never gets too big for him and he’s a competitor. He can make plays with his arm and his legs.”

Flowers also has several weapons at his disposal.

The two biggest receiving threats for USF are Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Tyre McCants, who averages 26.2 yards per catch. Valdes-Scantling, meanwhile, leads with team in receiving with 14 catches for 202 yards (14.4 yards per catch) and two touchdowns.

In addition to Flowers’ running capabilities, USF boasts two running backs who see almost an even split in carries. Darius Trice leads the Bulls in rushing with 256 yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries (5.3 yards per carry), while D’Ernest Johnson has gone for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 52 carries (4.1 yards per carry).

The combination of Flowers and a strong supporting cast places USF 14th among FBS programs in total offense (522.3 yards per game) and 13th in rushing offense (281.3 yards per game).

Extra points

Former Temple recruiting target Darnell Salomon, a sophomore receiver from Miami Central High School, has five receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown on the season … USF has scored 30 or more points in 20 consecutive games, the longest active streak of any Division I program … The Bulls have grabbed eight interceptions in three games – good for second-most in the nation.

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