Despite Kentucky's 31-point loss to Louisville Sunday, the game did validate one big decision that Rich Brooks and his staff made. Andre Woodson seems to be the right choice at starting quarterback.
No, his numbers weren't overpowering — 9-for-24. However, he threw for 231 yards and completed three touchdown passes as well as three deep throws. More importantly, he stood in the pocket showing no signs of panic. He avoided sacks, didn't fumble and did not throw an interception.
"He stood in there and made throws. That's the thing a good quarterback has to do. He has to stand in until the last minute, and he did that," Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said. "He avoided sacks that I'm not sure he would have last year. Him and (assistant) coach (Randy) Sanders have done a good job on knowing when to get rid of the ball."
Receiver Keenan Burton, who had four catches for 127 yards, was one of Woodson's biggest supporters during the summer when he was trying to reclaim the No. 1 spot from Curtis Pulley. "He stayed in the pocket, took some licks and delivered the ball on target," Burton said. "Offensively, that is something we can build on. We just have to come out stronger. We can't leave the defense on the field that much, or expect Andre to make every play."
Several plays showed that Woodson is much more mature and poised this season. Near the end of the half, he dropped a snap. Rather than panic, he picked up the ball, found Burton streaking down the sideline and hit him for a big play to set up a touchdown.
"That just shows he has grown up. He bent down, picked the football up and knew what to do," Phillips said.
"He would have panicked last year. This year he's something special," Burton said. "He wants it. A lot of times last year he was not confident in himself. Now he has a lot more confidence. He understands he has to be the leader of this team. Until he understood that, we were not going to be successful. Now we will be because he is our leader," Burton said.
Burton showed that leadership when Kentucky fell behind 31-0 in the second quarter. Rather than give up, he was in the huddle clapping and encouraging teammates. UK responded by scoring twice before halftime.
"I think last year he would have hung his head a little bit. But he's a smart guy and intelligent player. He loves the competition," Burton said. "We can't make excuses. Excuses don't work. He understands that now and he's made it clear he's our leader."
Woodson the right QB
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