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Today we bring you the second edition of ‘Bedford’s Bottom Line‘ with our favorite former USF defensive end and SoFloBulls.com contributor David Bedford. In this week’s Q&A David evaluates the Bulls’ performance, or lack thereof, against Temple and shares his insights, experiences from his time as a Bull under then USF defensive coordinator Wally Burnham.
USF is coming off the wrong end of the stick in a 46-30 trouncing at the hands of Temple last Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Bulls’ fell to 6-2 (3-1) on the year following the defensive abomination on ESPN for the world to see. If the Bulls’ can find a way to shore up the rushing lanes as wide and porous as post-Katrina New Orleans’s levies, then USF just MIGHT have a shot in the dark at stymieing No. 22 Navy’s prolific rushing attack Friday night.
Bedford’s Bottom Line Q&A: Temple
Which members of the USF defensive line unit consistently stood out to you throughout the game Friday night against Temple, both in positive and negative ways?
DB: Juwuan Brown made a great play in the second quarter, breaking into the backfield, wrapping up Phillip Walker for a would be seven yard loss, only to give it right back after being flagged for a boneheaded personal foul. Brown has noticeable talent, and I would love to see him get more playing time. As a unit, the defensive line simply did not get it done against Temple. You can load the box with eight or nine players, you can bring a run blitz, but all of it means absolutely nothing if you don’t win upfront. Stopping the run starts and ends with the defensive line. It’s been that way forever.
As a former player under an extremely disciplined defensive coach in Wally Burnham, what goes through your head after the offense punches one in for six, then special teams immediately allows the field goal attempt to be blocked? And what thoughts race through your mind when your defensive unit gives up a big play like Temple running back Ryquell Armstead’s 76 yard breakaway touchdown in the second quarter Friday?
DB: Wally B. was a tough coach to play for, but when I see a PTA blocked I immediately flash back to Coach Jim Leavitt. I immediately knew that week would be FULL GO field goal protection, period. Those were the worst, 8-10 full plays of nothing but smashing into each other.
My thoughts following Armstead’s long jaunt are very basic: Where is the heart? Where is the fight? Your offense just punched in a big touchdown, you can’t give it right back!!
USF was disemboweled by Temple’s rushing attack for 319 yards Friday night in front of a national audience on ESPN, in your opinion what visible adjustments must be made to the Bullshark Defensive scheme for the Bulls’ to return to the stalwart, hard-nosed USF defense of old?
DB: USF must start winning first down. Temple enjoyed entirely too many 2nd and 5, 3rd and 2, and 3rd and 1’s. Also, USF’s tackling in space was lackluster at best. Several times there were Bulls’ defenders there to make the play, only to whiff the open field tackle, allowing a long run on a play that should have resulted in a loss. During my time at USF we were extremely successful against the run because we brought the run blitz. Bring a few extra guys on early downs as well, not just on 3rd and long.
How would you grade USF’s performance for each of the position groups below on a scale from A-F in the 46-30 walloping at the hands of Temple Friday night and why?
(1) Defensive Line: F-.
Stopping the run starts up front, period. There are no excuses. That must be your mindset as a defensive line unit.
(2) Linebackers: D-.
Too many times I saw two linebackers filling the same gap, running into each other.
(3) Secondary: C-.
Temple wide receiver Ventell Bryant made a few big plays early on and Johnny Ward simply didn’t put together another solid performance like last week. I thought Ward allowed Bryant to take what he wanted. He didn’t make him feel his presence.
(4) Special Teams (Unit): B.
USF Head Coach Willie Taggart was asked the following during the AAC Teleconference yesterday about the scheme Temple utilized in the Owls’ successful rushing attack against the Bulls, “Temple was running an inside lead away from an unbalanced line then started bending it outside. The fullback was blocking the forced corner and there was no one to fill because the linebackers were getting caught up in the wash trying to step up and stop the lead. Correct?”
What are your thoughts on the question Coach Taggart received today? On the success of Temple fullback Nick Sharga against the USF linebackers? And what recommendations would you give USF Defensive Coordinator Raymond Woodie heading into No. 22 Navy this Friday?
DB: Not to take anything away from Temple Fullback Nick Sharga, but he wasn’t knocking out linebackers all night. It was Sharga vs. 180 pound CB Johnny Ward. The USF linebackers didn’t do a good enough job of scraping over-the-top and being there to make the play when Johnny Ward took on the fullback.
To attempt to contain the rushing attack of No. 22 Navy this Friday night, USF must be disciplined. If you have the dive, you MUST take the dive. If you have the pitch, you MUST take the pitch. The second you try to do someone else’s job, you just gave up a big play. Also, USF must show some fight on Friday. Everybody knows Navy is a running team, so your mindset must be they will NOT run all over us tonight!!
DB: The run defense must improve. That was an embarrassing performance vs. Temple. It starts upfront with the defensive line. If they don’t start winning the one-on-one battles the run defense won’t get better. Tackling in space, plain and simple, did not cut it. Plays are there to be made, make them! As a former USF player on defense, the worst feeling in the world I can recall is when a team runs the ball down your throat. It takes fight, heart, and will to stop the run. USF must bring all three into Friday’s night game. Navy WILL NOT run all over us, the players have to believe it first!! Go Bulls!!
by Matthew Manuri
Publisher & Editor, SoFloBulls.com | @Mcknurkle
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