2019 USF Football: #PlayFastScoreFaster USF Football

#TimeoutGate Owls Top Bulls in Bewildering Charlie Strong Two Timeout Loss to Temple

With redemption on their minds coming into the Thursday night primetime AAC clash against the Temple Owls, South Florida fell short as the Bulls' offense and Charlie Strong sputtered in crucial moments down the stretch.

The Bulls had high hopes coming into this prime-time matchup against Temple but failed to capitalize on key opportunities.  The Bulls defense did well to give the offense every opportunity to score but Jordan McCloud and the Bulls offense couldn’t deliver. Despite leading in passing yards, number of plays and time of possession, the Bulls couldn’t get it done when it mattered.

“This is a tough one, a hard one to swallow,” Head Coach Charlie Strong said. “We had opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them. You look at the first drive, we’re driving the football then end up turning the ball over. We could’ve got a score there and defense played well up until right before half, giving up the drive where they scored on us.”

The stingy USF defense certainly did their part last night against the Owls and gave the Bulls a fighting chance at a much needed victory. The swarming Bulls defense showed out on ESPN, racking up 8.0 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception, only allowed the Owl’s to convert one of four red zone trips, and held Temple to a mere 10 total offensive points.

USF safety Bentlee Sanders kept the Bulls’ streak of at least one turnover in all nine games alive with his clutch interception in the third quarter. With Sanders’ interception the Bulls now have 21 takeaways in 2019, which not only matched the 2018 season takeaways total, but also landed USF tied for second nationally in takeaways gained coming into the contest.

On offense, USF quarterback Jordan McCloud was sacked nine times as the Owls smothered the Bulls offensive line for ten tackles for a loss on the night. The porous line seemed to provide zero protection for McCloud, allowing Temple to penetrate off the edge on key third downs with ease. When push came to shove, the offense failed to give the Bulls’ defensive unit any breaks.

The inept rushing attack that only mustered 61 net yards stymied the offensive attack. To boot, McCloud led the team with 18 carries and netted a grisly -5 yards… Why McCloud dominated the touches in the USF rushing game is beyond me. Apart from McCloud’s lone 14 yard touchdown pass to Bryce Miller, the Bulls passing game was plagued by errant throws and multiple drops by wide receivers.

“We knew that the pass-run when we got to the third down,” Coach Strong said, “we knew we had to block their outside rushers. We knew those guys were gonna come and we didn’t do a good job of blocking them and they beat us. We tried to chip them some and they were still able to get us off.”

With three tough in-conference matchups remaining on the Bulls’ brutal November schedule in Cincinnati, Memphis and UCF, USF has an uphill climb if they want a shot at a fifth consecutive bowl game. “We have a chance. We have to get our seniors to a bowl game; we have two left at home and one more on the road,” Charlie Strong said after the 17-7 loss.

Unfathomably atrocious game and clock management by USF head coach Charlie Strong in the waning moments of the fourth quarter left all of Bulls nation baffled and pissed off. Down just 10 points in the final minutes Charlie Strong elected to use neither of USF’s two final timeouts, like he was hoarding Thanksgiving leftovers, much to the dismay of everyone in attendance including his own players. One would presume a rational head coach would be focused on giving his team every fathomable opportunity to put points on the board, even if deep down he believed the game was unsalvageable.

Strong’s decision making, or lack there of, was so bewildering to ESPN in-game commentator Pat McAfee he blurted out, “What the hell just happened?”, as he watched the time run off the clock with no timeouts being called. I agree Pat, what the hell was that?!?!?

Charlie Strong’s Temple Post-Game Press Conference 2019

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