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Bulls fail in defending the pass

In its first true test of the season, USF failed to show up in losing 34-3 to South Carolina. The secondary, after having to replace 2003 starters J.R Reed, Kevin Verpaele and Ron Hemingway, had an especially tough time against the Gamecocks.

With second-string quarterback Syvelle Newton getting his first start, USF looked to take advantage. But it didn't take long for Newton to exploit USF's inexperienced secondary.

Led by receiver Troy Williamson, South Carolina picked apart the Bulls' young secondary. Williamson had three touchdown receptions, the most any receiver has had against the Bulls.

Finishing with five receptions for 210 yards, each of Willamson's three touchdowns were over 50 yards. USF only gave up two passes over 50 yards last season.

Williamson capped a career game when he outran the USF defense on a 73-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.

"Our pass defense in the second half really bothered me," USF coach Jim Leavitt said. "They started throwing at will almost anywhere. That really frustrated me."

Statistically the first half was as bad. USF was down 17-3 at the half and Newton already had passed for 171 yards.

On the game's first drive, Newton connected with Williamson on a 56-yard touchdown. Cornerback Trae Williams, in his first start for the Bulls, got beat badly on the play. In the second quarter, Williamson struck again, beating senior D'Juan Brown on a 55-yarder.

"Basically we have to play a more sound defense," said free safety Javan Camon, who replaced Reed. "They got some big plays and got up on us. I think we got antsy."

Platooning at left corner, Williams and Mike Jenkins had a tough time filling Hemingway's old role at left corner. Jenkins, questionable before the game, got his first start of the season.

At safety, USF had to do without Johnnie Jones, who took over for Verpaele at strong safety, most of the game. The senior left near the end of the first quarter with a shoulder injury. Antonio Warren replaced him.