TAYLOR'S Thoughts: Air Raid Revival at UK

In just three games, Kentucky has "passed" the grade on offense, at least through the air. A big question mark heading into the season, Kentucky has experienced somewhat of an air-raid revival it once enjoyed during the Hal Mumme era. "I am extremely pleased with the passing game production," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said earlier this week.

Brooks has plenty of reason to be pass happy. Through the team's first three games, Kentucky has thrown for 778 yards and is averaging 259.3 yards per game through the air.

A variety of factors have contributed to the Wildcats' success with the passing game. For starters, junior quarterback Andre Woodson has lived up to his hype as a legitimate passer and has completed 44-of-78 passes for 727 yards. More importantly, Woodson has thrown just one interception, thanks to added protection time from his friends in the trenches.

"Our pass blocking is better than it was a year ago," Brooks said. Along with getting plenty of help from his linemen, Woodson also has matured in the pocket, avoiding negative yardage while under pressure.

"Andre is obviously making better decisions, not only throwing the football, but getting rid of it and trying to avoid sacks," Brooks said. Woodson's receivers, primarily Dicky Lyons, also have stepped up a notch. In each of Kentucky's first three games, Lyons has caught two touchdown passes and leads the team with six touchdown receptions. Lyons has hauled in nine passes for 221 yards.

"The emergence of Dicky Lyons as a big-play receiver at this point in the season is huge for our offense," Brooks said. "To see him emerge and have the success, I'm happy for him and happy for us as a football team."

Lyons said the fact that Kentucky has more than one threat at wide receiver makes him an easier target for Woodson and takes added pressure off teammate Keenan Burton.

"We've got so many weapons," he said. "Other teams can't just key on one guy and think we're not going to take advantage of it."

The offensive line has simply taken on the initiative of making sure that Woodson has plenty of time in the pocket to make better decisions.

"Everyone's mindset is to protect Andre or anyone that is playing there," Kentucky offensive guard Michael Aitcheson said. "Andre is a special individual who has matured over the summer by putting in the extra time to watch film and train, which makes him a great leader on the field."

Kentucky has also gotten a helping hand from backup quarterback Curtis Pulley, who doubles as a wide receiver in some of the team's four wide-out packages. In a 31-14 win over Ole Miss last week, Pulley hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Woodson, his first score as a receiver. "When you get the ball in his hands, he can make plays and he's a big target," Kentucky offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said. "We just feel like he's one of our top players and we've got to get him the ball in some way or another." Lyons said that Pulley is making progress. "He gives is another weapon to get into the end zone," he said.

The more the better.

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