USF gives up school-record 383 passing yards but just three TDs.
Spotting silver linings when your defense allows a school record for passing yards would seem a bit of a stretch, even for optimists. Yet South Florida left Saturday with a feeling of accomplishment that belied statistics.
Facing a Division I-A opponent for only the second time, South Florida made Kentucky work for nearly every score in a 27-9 UK win.
"I thought we did some good things defensively," said Bulls coach Jim Leavitt, whose team surrendered 383 yards and three touchdowns to freshman quarterback Jared Lorenzen. "Toward the end, they went down the field pretty quickly, and that was disappointing. That last touchdown was a little disappointing."
But overall, a solid effort. The Wildcats never got their pass-happy offense fully on track, and were twice forced to settle for field goals after first downs inside the Bulls 18-yard-line. USF trailed 13-0 at halftime.
"Jim's been doing a good job recruiting and getting some athletes," Kentucky coach Hal Mumme said. "I thought he had some really good-looking defensive backs. The linebackers were also good-looking players. I thought they played pretty well. They made us struggle at times."
The Wildcat receivers were also complimentary of the Bulls defense, especially the senior-dominated secondary of Anthony Henry, Glenn Davis, Roy Manns and Jay Mize.
"They had some good players back there," said Derek Abney, who caught two touchdowns. "We made some plays on them, but the two I caught in particular were just perfect throws. The man was all over me. It was just where the ball needed to be."
"They're not going to face too many teams who throw the ball like we do," said UK receiver Quentin McCord, who had a game-high six catches for 120 yards. "That was probably the best quarterback they're going to face, so I think they're going to have a good team."
Outside linebacker Kawika Mitchell also played well, helping hold tight end Derek Smith to two catches for 35 yards.
The Bulls succumbed to fatigue and the number of SEC-caliber athletes Kentucky had.
"We know if we go out and take them out in the first three plays, we won't get that tired," South Florida defensive tackle Lee Roy Selmon Jr. said. "That's what we're supposed to do."