Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Colleges

USF Bulls defense continues to struggle

PHILADELPHIA — The losses and defensive lapses are beginning to play mind games with the USF Bulls.

A 37-28 loss Saturday to Temple was the latest in four consecutive losses and the USF defense's latest failure to produce a turnover.

"It definitely does become mental," senior middle linebacker Sam Barrington said. "I'm beginning to think, is there a football god saying, 'You guys don't deserve turnovers?'

"We know we're due for some. But their quarterback was very effective. They saw some loopholes and guys ran to where we were soft. And they ran the ball effectively, plain and simple."

Indeed, Temple's running back tandem of Montel Harris (24 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns) and Matt Brown (12 for 59 and a score) hurt USF, which wasn't entirely unexpected. But they couldn't have figured on Chris Coyer, a 46 percent passer coming in, going 16-for-20 for 167 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 54 yards and a score.

The Bulls defense continually missed tackles and let the Owls (2-2, 1-0 Big East) move the ball almost at will in the second half, when Temple scored four touchdowns.

Temple racked up 22 first downs and 383 net yards in its first Big East game since being kicked out of the league for being noncompetitive in 2004.

"Defensively we weren't able to consistently stop the running game," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "And we have not played the ball very well in the air.

"Their quarterback threw the ball well and did a nice job. Of course it's a lot easier throwing when you have wide-open receivers."

Then there are the turnovers — or rather lack of them, as USF has forced five in six games.

"We've talked about what we need to do to create them," Holtz said. "They have eluded us and I wish I could put my finger on what the problem is.

"But we have not created turnovers and that has definitely been the downfall of what we've been doing defensively."

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