MIAMI — The Bulls knew the Hurricanes would be looking to make big plays Saturday but didn't account for some of Miami's unlikely playmakers in their 40-9 road loss.
USF gave up its two biggest plays of the season to wide receiver Herb Waters and tight end Clive Walford, who both had more than 130 receiving yards and went for touchdowns of 87 and 65 yards, respectively.
"I thought on defense our pass secondary was poor," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "I just thought there was way too many uncontested deep balls. It's one thing when the ball goes up and they jump up over you. … I'll take those. But some of the other ones are just uncontested and totally uncalled for as a defense."
With USF down 22-3 in the third quarter, a punt gave the Hurricanes a long field with a drive starting on their 13-yard line. But Bulls cornerback Kayvon Webster lost track of Waters, who went down the sideline untouched for a score. Waters had only five catches for 32 yards on the season coming in.
"They did a good job of capitalizing on our mistakes. … We made mistakes," Webster said. "We had a lot of missed assignments, and we just didn't do our jobs."
Holtz said he felt good about the game up to that point.
"Right there I felt like it was a pretty evenly played football game, even though the points were a little bit swayed because of the turnovers. … But from there it certainly went south in the pass defense," he said.
USF's defense saw what Walford could do on Miami's first play from scrimmage as the 250-pound tight end caught a pass over the middle for 34 yards. Quarterback Stephen Morris found him for 36 yards in the second quarter and for a 65-yard touchdown to start the fourth. Morris extended the play with his feet, allowing Walford to get well behind the defense for the deep ball.
"I think there was a tremendous amount of big plays. … At times when we were ahead of the chains — it's just being disciplined in what we're supposed to do," USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said. "When the quarterback broke down and started to move out of the pocket, we've got to be disciplined, and we didn't do that."
The Bulls also failed to capitalize on some of Morris' errant passes. Safety Mark Joyce bobbled a would-be interception, and linebacker Reshard Cliett had one go through his hands on third down deep in Miami territory.
Coming in, a 47-yard pass by Florida State was the longest play the Bulls had given up. Against Miami the defense allowed 456 passing yards, including five passes of more than 30 yards.