BY ROCK HOFFMAN
COLLEGE FOOTBALL EDITOR
After a tough season-opening, 2-point loss to Navy, Temple will open the home portion of their truncated 2020 season by hosting USF in an American Athletic Conference game at Lincoln Financial Field. With the city of Philadelphia now allowing a limited number of fans at live sporting events, Temple will allow family members of the players and coaches to attend the game. The attendees will be monitored by the University medical teams, if things go smoothly students will be able to attend games and fans in general will be allowed to purchase tickets.
The Owls (0-1, 0-1 American) have won two in a row over USF (1-3, 0-2 American) and are 4-2 all-time against the Bulls. Additionally, Temple has won 10 of their last 11 games at the Linc while the Bulls have never won in Philadelphia.
The Owls will look to improve the rushing defense which gave up 251 yards to Navy (of course, not having to face the Mids triple option should help some). On offense, finishing in the red zone will be a priority. They scored on five of six trips (including four touchdowns) against Navy but the points they left on the field were key in the 31-29 loss.
“We’ve got to help him with play calls too,” said Temple head coach Rod Carey referring to quarterback Anthony Russo, who had a costly red zone interception. “How he responded from that was completely different than he’s ever responded from a play like that. Before, Russo makes a critical error like that and you will see it affect him for the rest of the game or, at least, a certain amount of time. It did not in this game. He came right back down and we got three touchdowns in the second half.”
The Bulls rolled up 302 yards rushing in their season-opening 27-6 win over The Citadel, an FCS team but in their last three games (all losses) they scored 31 points combined. Former Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott is in his first year as USF head coach. He’s the youngest head coach in the American and his staff is one of the youngest in the country (average 36.4 years old). Scott brought in 16 transfers and despite 18 players having made their first USF start they have just three sophomores listed as starters on the depth chart.
One of those sophomores is quarterback Jordan McCloud, who has started three of the team’s four games, he’s completed 66 percent of his 86 passes for 567 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Bulls have a combination of sophomores at halfback with Johnny Ford and Kelly Joiner teaming for 349 yards with a 5.2 yards per carry average and four touchdowns. Also, Ford is averaging over 28 yards per kick return to rank 11th in the nation. The Owls struggled on kick returns against Navy allowing 23 yards per return.
On defense, the Bulls are led by middle linebacker Antonio Grier, who is tops on the team in tackles, tackles for loss (4), sacks (3) and forced fumbles (2).