Temple University football (0-1, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) will play South Florida (1-3, 0-2 The American) at home at noon on Saturday.
Here are three key matchups for fans to watch.
The Owls’ cornerbacks vs Bulls’ quarterback Jordan McCloud
Jordan McCloud, the Bulls’ sophomore quarterback, is struggling with his play this season. He’s completed 60.8 percent of his passes for just 269 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
McCloud is known as a running quarterback who can avoid sacks in the pocket and then punish defenses for not assigning a defender to watch him. However, his rushing stats do not reflect his abilities.
McCloud is credited with just six net rushing yards and zero touchdowns. Temple head coach Rod Carey still feels McCloud is a threat on the ground, he said.
“He’s certainly a dynamic athlete, and he throws the ball effectively,” Carey said. “He’s a guy you have to account for all the time in the run game and scrambling, which is almost harder than just straight run game.”
Temple’s secondary wasn’t forced to defend the pass much in their last game against Navy. The Midshipmen ran the ball 60 times and threw just two passes, both of which were screen passes.
Starting cornerbacks graduate student Linwood Crump and redshirt-junior Christian Braswell combined for three total tackles and no other stats, so they will need to keep an eye on McCloud while they are covering their assigned wide receiver to limit his running ability.
The Owls’ running backs vs The Bulls’ defensive line
Sophomore running back Re’Mahn Davis recorded 97 net rushing yards and one rushing touchdown on 23 carries against the Midshipmen. Redshirt-senior running back Tayvon Ruley contributed 46 yards on five carries, including a 30-yard carry.
The Owls should be able to run the ball effectively against the Bulls on Saturday. South Florida’s defense is allowing 223.3 rushing yards per game this season.
The Bulls’ statistical leader on the defensive line is graduate-student defensive tackle Thad Mangum. He ranks third on the team with 16 total tackles and is tied for first with two tackles for loss.
Bulls’ senior defensive tackle Blake Green is tied for ninth on the team with nine total tackles this season and tied for second with 1.5 tackles for loss.
The Bulls defensive scheme primarily uses three down defensive lineman to account for stopping the run in between the offensive tackles. Temple’s offense should have success running the ball outside the tackles on Saturday.
The Owls’ wide receivers vs the Bulls’ secondary
The matchup between Temple’s receivers and the Bulls’ secondary will be a battle of both team’s strengths. South Florida is only allowing 125.3 total passing yards per game this season while giving up just two passing touchdown passes and intercepting four passes.
The Bulls’ junior safeties Nick Roberts and Vincent Davis rank first and second on the team in total tackles this season with 23 and 21, respectively.
Temple’s receivers played well against the Midshipmen. Graduate student Branden Mack led the team with seven catches, 80 yards and also recorded one touchdown, while redshirt-junior Jadan Blue finished with five catches for 40 yards in the game.
Against the Midshipmen, Temple frequently attacked the middle of the defense with vertical passing concepts. South Florida uses a defensive scheme with three safeties, making it difficult to complete passes down the field.
“It is definitely a bunch of different looks that we haven’t seen from them the past two years,” Russo said of South Florida’s defense. “This year it is much different, a lot of three safety looks so some kinda funky-looking coverages.”