Randy's resurrection

Randy Sanders must have picked up a bunch of IQ points when he crossed the state line from Tennessee into Kentucky 18 months ago.

Blamed for Vol quarterback Erik Ainge's flameout in 2005, Sanders resigned as Tennessee's offensive coordinator and resurfaced as quarterback coach at UK, where he was hailed for Andre Woodson's breakout in 2006.

After throwing six touchdown passes and six interceptions in 2005, Woodson blossomed in '06, throwing for 31 TDs with just seven interceptions. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 3,515 yards last fall, leading the SEC in passing yards per game at 270.4. The 6-5, 230-pounder enters his senior season on the watch list for the Maxwell Award (NCAA player of the year) and carries the lowest interception percentage (minimum 400 attempts) in SEC history.

"At this time last year I wasn't even sure Andre was going to be our starter," Big Blue head coach Rich Brooks said during Wednesday's session of SEC Media Days. "He was battling Curtis Pulley for the position. But he totally turned around, and Randy Sanders has to get a lot of credit for that.

"He made Andre focus on the positive things, not the negative. He was able to get him to focus and channel his ability – which he always had – in the right direction. It was one of the biggest transitions – from production, leadership, accountability – that I've seen a young man make from one year to the next. And thank God he did, because I'm back here talking to you."

Woodson also had kind words for Sanders, a former UT quarterback who was the Vols' coordinator from 1999 through 2005.

"Randy has done a fabulous job," Woodson said. "He has made me understand how important practice is and given me a great understanding of what it takes to be a great SEC quarterback. Last year it began to show in my game just what I was learning and what I could do."

As a result, a guy who was no lock to be the first-team quarterback on Kentucky's team in 2006 finds himself the first-team quarterback on the preseason All-SEC team in 2007.

"I always knew I had it in me," Woodson said. "It was just a matter of confidence. That's something Coach Sanders has always stressed. To be the leader, to be the quarterback, you have to set the example on and off the field. You have to take responsibility for all of your actions."

Woodson's actions in 2006 were truly imposing. Still, he says he couldn't have done it without his position coach.

"Obviously, you have to have full confidence and believe in yourself at all times," he said. "That's something I didn't have in the past, something I had to work on. Once he (Sanders) helped me realize the best way to prepare, everything became a lot easier for me. Obviously, I owe a lot to Coach Sanders."


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