Woodson Uses Composure To Lead Wildcats

FAYETTEVILLE -- One word kept popping up in describing Andre' Woodson.

Wasn't big, even though Arkansas coach Houston Nutt says he's never seen a quarterback as accurate who is Woodson's size -- 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. Wasn't athletic, either, even though Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring talks about Woodson's ability to avoid pass rushers in the pocket. Nope. The word was poise. Kentucky's quarterback, a third-year starter and senior leader, shows plenty of poise, everyone says, and that's why he's on the brink of an NCAA record. "Obviously, (Woodson) is a really tremendous talent," Herring said. "He's got an NFL body, an NFL arm. The most important thing about him, though, is he's got poise and confidence. His accuracy is what separates him from the average quarterback. He's got tremendous accuracy." Fourteen completions without an interception Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium would make Woodson the all-time NCAA leader in consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Takes a lot of composure, a lot of restraint, to go on a streak like that. Arkansas cornerback Matterral Richardson said he noticed Woodson's on-field demeanor immediately on game tape. "He's real poised," Richardson said. "Quarterbacks like that, you know you've got to get to them early. You can't let him get comfortable, or he'll pick you apart." Opponents haven't accomplished that often. Woodson is an integral part of why Kentucky football is back. The Wildcats have won eight of their past nine games, including last season's Music City Bowl victory against Clemson. Their most recent win thrust Woodson even further onto the national college football landscape. Kentucky upset in-state rival and then-No. 9 Louisville on Saturday, when Woodson nailed Steve Johnson on a 57-yard touchdown pass in the final minute. The completion gave Kentucky a 40-34 win and let Woodson finalize his outdueling of Cardinals quarterback Brian Brohm, who many consider the top quarterback in the country. Woodson and Brohm both played high school football in Kentucky. Woodson has always stood in Brohm's shadow. No longer. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks doesn't want to jinx Woodson. But he's happy to see his quarterback get the attention. "When you look back at what he did last year with 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions in this league, that speaks volumes of his judgment," Brooks said. "And so far this year, he's off to a nine (touchdown) to zero (interceptions) start. "Usually when you start talking about it, is usually when it ends. Let's hope we can get through another game. I hope he can get that record." Woodson might be nervous about putting a hex on the record, as well. He's not talking to any out-of-town media this week. Then again, talking in general has never been a slice of Woodson's personality. At SEC football media days in late July, Woodson spoke of his shy persona and tentative nature, and how it affected his leadership ability. Brooks has seen Woodson embrace the role, however. Woodson isn't scared to challenge a teammate, isn't afraid to motivate through raising his voice. "He's totally taken responsibility for this team and put it on his shoulders, if you will," Brooks said. Herring saw the relationship between quarterback and receivers as he studied Kentucky's film. It's no accident, Herring said, that Woodson completed 63 percent of his passes last season. "He has good wideouts, and they are in sync (with Woodson)," Herring said. "You can tell the chemistry between the quarterback and the wide receivers is excellent." Combined with Woodson's ever-present poise, that relationship will result in a game-long test for the Arkansas secondary. ANDRE' WOODSON Class: Senior Position: Quarterback Height: 6-5 Weight: 230 Hometown: Radcliff, Ky. Notables: Earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors from conference coaches and from The Associated Press last season. ... Completed 63 percent of his passes and threw for 3,515 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2006. ... Voted Kentucky's Most Valuable Player by Wildcats players. ... Makes his 28th career start Saturday. WOODSON STATISTICS Quarterback Andre Woodson has led No. 21 Kentucky to eight wins in its last nine games, spanning back to last season. That is the best nine-game run for the Wildcats since 1977, when Kentucky won the final nine games of the season. Woodson, who ranks among Kentucky's top four career quarterbacks in every category for passing and total offense, performed well in all nine games. Date Opponent C-A-I Pass Yards TD 2007 Sept. 1 Louisville 30-44-0 275 4 Sept. 8 Kent State 15-22-0 218 2 Sept. 15 Eastern Kentucky 20-29-0 250 3 2006 Dec. 29 vs. Clemson* 20-28-0 299 3 Nov. 25 at Tennessee# 26-39-0 282 1 Nov. 18 Louisiana-Monroe 25-35-0 359 3 Nov. 11 Vanderbilt 29-42-0 450 4 Nov. 4 Georgia 23-32-2 204 2 Oct. 28 at Mississippi State 19-28-1 284 3 * 2006 Music City Bowl # Only Loss

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