Quarterback Patrick White praised West Virginia’s defensive unit after Friday night’s 21-13 upset loss to South Florida.

“Since I’ve been at West Virginia, defensively this was one of the best games I’ve seen,” he said. “Our offense didn’t do anything to help them out.

“They got four turnovers (in the first half). We gave six right back.”

White, who left the game with a thigh bruise just before halftime, said he couldn’t be of any help to the team after being injured.

His backup, Jarrett Brown, played the remainder of the game and performed well.

White also paid tribute to the victorious Bulls, who hope to jump from 18th to at least No. 10 in this week’s national rankings, while WVU almost certainly will fall several notches from No. 5.

“(The Bulls) played well,” White said. “They beat us. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit.

“But we gave them quite a bit. We made a lot of mistakes. Anytime you lose like that, it hurts. Even though we went out and gave it our best, they still beat us.”

White said the USF defense showed pretty much what the WVU offense practiced against all week. And he did not think the largest USF crowd ever for a home game hurt WVU’s communications offensively.

Senior strong safety Eric Wicks said the Mountaineers tried to put a little pressure on Matt Grothe, USF’s outstanding quarterback.

Wicks recovered a fumble on the Mountaineer 30 to kill a scoring threat in the first quarter. But two plays later Steve Slaton fumbled the ball back to the Bulls.

“Those turnovers we got in the first half meant a lot to us mentally,” Wicks admitted. “But we made a few mistakes on defense, too.

“The offense wasn’t getting any drives, and we missed a lot of tackles. But if we gang-tackle, we really shouldn’t have to worry about that.”

He said while it was disappointing to lose the game, all the players must now try to get over that and look ahead to Saturday’s game at Syracuse.

“(The Bulls) played a great game,” he conceded. “Now we’ve just got to work hard and try to get back playing well.”

Free safety Ryan Mundy killed a second-quarter USF threat by intercepting a Matt Grothe pass.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” he said. “We made a lot of mistakes that we’ve got to correct. And the offense turned the ball over more than normal.

“But everybody played hard and it was a great atmosphere out there. We were confident coming into the game. We knew it’d be a battle.

“Coach Rod said we’d get their best shot and we did.”

Meantime, USF defensive coordinator Wally Burnham commented, “We did it again.” Players drenched him in postgame Gatorade celebration.

Jim Leavitt, the Bulls’ head coach, gave Burnham credit for fashioning the “assignment football” defense which was so successful against WVU’s run game this year as well as in last year’s 24-19 win.

The Tampa Tribune quoted Burnham as saying, “You tell West Virginia, they can take those Yankees hats and stick them ... you know what I’m saying.”

USF defensive tackle Richard Clebert also was quoted, “We’re not going to let them come into our house and talk all that trash. For the second year in a row, Steve Slaton was a nobody, Pat White was a nobody.

“We might have surprised the nation, but it didn’t surprise us.”

Leavitt said, “Our goal wasn’t to beat West Virginia. It was to win the Big East.”

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