SportsDesk Preview: Temple vs. USF

Week four is very quickly upon us as the Owls will depart for Tampa, Florida tomorrow afternoon to take on the 21st ranked South Florida Bulls.

Temple is fresh off its 29-21 victory over UMass last Friday night. In doing so, it improved to 2-1 overall and winners of their last two contests. Though the Owls face a tough task Thursday night when they open up conference play and visit their 3-0 conference foe. The Bulls have won their 3 games thus far by an average of 19 points.

In Friday’s game, sophomore QB Logan Marchi continued his impressive start to his season, completing 22 of 37 passing attempts for 248 yards and a season best 3 touchdowns, and still has yet to turn the ball over.

QB Logan Marchi leads the AAC in passing yards, and has not turned the ball over in his first three starts (Cred:// Zamani Feelings)

Marchi made the AAC Honor Roll this week for his performance Friday night. In his first three games, he leads the AAC in passing yards with 767, and has thrown the ball a total of 107 times without an interception. He is one of 3 FBS QB’s with 100+ passing attempts with no INT’s.

Though he still sees some cracks in his offensive game,

“I’d say we need to work on staying on the field and converting on third downs, also scoring in the red zone are our two biggest things that we got to work on offensively,” Marchi said. “For me, just staying consistent, I can’t have one big play and a couple bad plays, so we got to stay consistent on offense.”

Also getting conference honors this week, is freshman defensive lineman Quincy Roche. Roche made 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. With that performance he took home Co-Defensive Player of the Week in the AAC. But he’s concerned about this week’s opposing QB Quinton Flowers.

“I think the biggest thing is keeping him in the pocket. He has the ability to make you pinch inside while he cuts outside, so it’s big to make sure we don’t buy into that and keep [Flowers] contained,” Roche said.

Roche’s 3 sacks contributed to a team total of 9, which is the highest total since September of 2015 when the Owls sacked Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg 10 times. DE Sharif Finch and LB Sam Franklin each had two sacks Friday.

Junior RB Ryquell Armstead finally broke out in a big way on Friday night. He led the rushing game by carrying the ball 17 times for a season high 91 yards. He started early, gaining 60 yards on the first drive of the game. Also contributing was senior FB Nick Sharga, who carried 4 times for 12 yards and made some crucial plays on special teams, recovering a fumble, and making a tackle on a blocked kick.  

The Owls WR corps played a big role in the team’s success Friday night. Sophomore Isaiah Wright led the way with 4 catches for 69 yards and a one handed touchdown to seal the win. Following Wright, is senior Keith Kirkwood who also hauled in 4 catches for 64 yards and a TD. Also breaking the plane was senior WR Adonis Jennings, who caught 3 passes for 41 yards including one large gain on 30 yards.

Because of his performance in games, practices and his all around leadership, Jennings has earned the right to wear the No. 1 jersey this week. Coach Geoff Collins talked about his character today when describing this weeks No. 1.

“Everybody sees what he does on Saturday’s and the big plays he makes. What you don’t see is the prep work he goes through every single day to get his body ready for practice, not just games, to get his body ready for practice. He’s in here an hour before practice, stretching, rolling, to get himself ready to practice at a high level.”

Jennings was humbled to have his number called.

“It’s special that I got number one, I know I’m respected by my teammates and my coaches. I’m very ready to go out and play…I worked hard, I put in the work and I’m glad my teammates and coaches know that. So I’m ready to go out and prove I deserve it.”

As for South Florida, the Bulls rely very heavily on their senior QB Quinton Flowers. This season, Flowers is on Heisman watch, throwing 45-81 for 678 yards and 8 touchdowns with only two interceptions. On the ground, he’s rushed 61 times for a total of 243 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Last season, Flowers won the AAC Offensive Player of the Year and CFPA National Performer of the Year, joining Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson as only players in the FBS to pass for 2,000+ and run for 1,500+ yards in 2016.

Helping out Flowers in the backfield are senior RB’s D’Ernest Johnson (2nd Team All-AAC) and Darius Tice. So far on the season, Johnson has 52 carries raking up 215 yards and 2 touchdowns, also catching 2 passes for 37 yards and 1 touchdown. Darius Tice has totaled 48 carries for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns. Both of these RB’s are coming off 100+ yard performances last week vs. Illinois.

Temple’s defense ranks ninth in the AAC in pass defense (Cred:// Zamani Feelings)

“They like to spread people out and run the ball, obviously they have a very explosive QB, so it’s going to be a tough game, everybody has to be locked in and focused when it comes time,” co-Defensive Player of the Week Quincy Roche said.

Also making plays for the Bulls are their WR’s, senior Marquez Valdes-Scantling who has 14 catches for 202 yards and 2 TD’s thus far, along with junior Tyre McCants who caught only 5 passes thus far totaling 131 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball for the Bulls, leading the way for their secondary is junior CB Ronnie Hoggins. Hoggins has 18 total tackles on the season, 17 solo, 4 passes broken up and 1 interception. Also helping out at CB is Deatrick Nichols who has 13 total tackles, 11                                                                                         solo, also with 4 passes broken up.

Leading the front seven, is senior DT Bruce Hector, who leads the team in sacks (2) and tackles for loss (5) thus far. He’s got 11 total tackles, 10 have been solo. Helping out Hector, is senior MLB Auggie Sanchez who has 16 tackles thus far, 1 for a loss, and 1 pass broken up.

“We got a lot of players from Florida that I know are excited. Any time you can play on a national stage, everybody’s game in some way, shape or form, elevates. So I know our guys are excited and they have a worthy opponent to play against as well,” Coach Collins said on the opportunity to play primetime on national television.

The Owls look to extend their winning streak to 3 games Thursday night, and get their first conference win this season. Kickoff is set for 7:30PM from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The game will be nationally broadcasted on ESPN and you can listen in on 610 WTEL Radio.

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