It's weird. You'd think that with USF possibly emboldened by their showing against Florida State, and playing the near-consensus worst team in the Big East in front of a fairly small crowd, things would set up nicely for the Bulls to get an easy victory and head into their first bye week with some forward momentum. Instead, it seems like USF fans are in a kind of paralysis, scared to death of losing this game.
And well they should be. If the Bulls were to somehow blow this game, it's going to be impossible to ignore the downward trend of the program, and we're going to spend two weeks tearing everything to shreds. So yeah, probably need to win this one, guys. Here's how to do it.
1. Get Temple to third and long, and then stop them. I was originally going to just say "get Temple to third and long," because they have such a weak and inconsistent passing game and those situations would force them to use it. But with this secondary, there's no guarantee USF can even get Temple off the field. The Owls probably want to shorten the game with the run, and they're not likely to pop many big plays. But if you let them convert third downs, the game is playing into their hands. USF's front seven should be able to force these situations, but the whole defense and especially the DBs have to convert them. Turnovers might be nice, too.
2. Try not to get B.J. Daniels hit very much. Daniels didn't practice earlier in the week as he tried to rest a minor ankle injury. Even though a bye follows this game, and backup Matt Floyd got reps in practice this week, the offense rides on Daniels and it takes a big hit (pun intended) with him not in the game. The offensive line has to keep guys off his back in pass protection, and Daniels has to know when to get down or get out of bounds when he runs the ball. If Demetris Murray and Lindsey Lamar and Marcus Shaw can handle the running game on their own, so much the better.
3. FOR GOD'S SAKE FIELD YOUR PUNTS AND KICKS CLEANLY EVERY TIME THE OTHER TEAM KICKS THE BALL I HAVE A FRIGGING STROKE JUST CATCH THE DAMN THING WILL YOU
4. Find a consistent target other than Andre Davis. Florida State blanketed him the whole game. He caught one pass for three yards, and eventually Daniels got frustrated enough to try forcing the ball to him anyway, with disastrous results. Now Temple and probably every other team USF faces will try to do the same thing. USF can move Davis around and set up some one-on-one matchups, but the Bulls need to get another big target going. They can roll with Derrick Hopkins, Starting Wide Receiver, and Terrence Mitchell, but it would be good to have one of them be a consistently reliable weapon. It can be either of them, or I'd like to see D'vario Montgomery or Deonte Welch step up, especially now that Chris Dunkley is unlikely to play for the Bulls again following his horrible arrest last weekend and entirely deserved suspension.
5. Shut us all up. This is a must-win game for USF's credibility with its fans. Win a game. Win it convincingly. Prove to us that this team can actually build towards the end of the season and at least get back to a bowl game. Prove to us the whole program is not going to crap. Get after these guys. Don't wait until the fourth quarter and depend on superior execution out of 18-22 year old kids. It's not the NFL. Kids are going to make mistakes. This keep-it-close-and-win-it-late thing has to stop.