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2007 Kentucky Wildcats

Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Kentucky Wildcats Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Kentucky Wildcats

Recap: For the second consecutive year, the Wildcats capped an 8-5 season with a Music City Bowl win over a Bowden-coached team, proof that their success in 2006 was no fluke.  Riding the strong arm of QB Andre Woodson, Kentucky rose as high as No. 8 in the country after beating LSU on Oct. 13, but tailed off in the second half as injuries mounted and the schedule stiffened.  Coming off their best two-year stretch in three decades, the Wildcats are hoping to capitalize on the success, even as Woodson and some of his best weapons exit Lexington.      

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andre Woodson

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Wesley Woodyard

Biggest Surprise: Upsetting rival Louisville on Sept. 15 looked huge at the time, but it couldn’t compare to the epic triple-overtime thriller that knocked LSU out of the pole position.  The Wildcats’ first win over a No. 1 team since 1964 pushed them into the top 10 and on to the national stage that’s usually reserved for the basketball program.      

Biggest Disappointment: After back-to-back battles with LSU and Florida, Kentucky was pretty much out of gas when Mississippi State visited on Oct. 27.  Six turnovers in the second half ended any hope of a comeback, as the ‘Cats fell to the ‘Dogs, 31-14, for a second straight loss.           

Looking Ahead: While other SEC schools can survive the loss of players, such as Woodson, RB Rafael Little, and receivers Keenan Burton, Steve Johnson and Jacob Tamme, Kentucky isn’t quite at that point.  Until the offense gets up to speed, an experienced defense is likely to lead the way in 2008.

- 2007 UK Preview
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2006 UK Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2007 Record: 8-5

Sept. 1 E Kentucky W 50-10
Sept. 8 Kent State W 56-20
Sept. 15 Louisville W 40-34
Sept. 22 at Arkansas W 42-29
Sept. 29
Fla Atlantic W 45-17
Oct. 4 at So Carolina L 38-23
Oct. 13 LSU W 45-37 3OT
Oct. 20
Florida L 45-37
Oct. 27 Mississippi State L 31-14
Nov. 10 at Vanderbilt W 27-20
Nov. 17 at Georgia L 24-13
Nov. 24
Tennessee L 52-50 4OT
Music City Bowl
Dec. 31 Florida State W 35-28

Dec. 31
2007 Music City Bowl
Kentucky 35 ... Florida State 28

Florida State was without 36 players due to academic suspension and/or injury, but it still battled down to the final play. UK QB Andre Woodson threw four touchdown passes with throws of 13 and 38 yards to Steve Johnson, a two-yard pass to Rafael Little, and a 14-yarder to Jacob Tamme early on, capitalizing off a blocked punt, to start the scoring. The Seminoles were helped by the defense with Tony Carter taking a Woodson pass 24 yards for a second quarter touchdown to tie it at 14, but it was all UK in the third quarter with the Little score and a four-yard Tony Dixon touchdown run. FSU's Drew Weatherford ran for two short scores and threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Greg Carr to stay alive, but was never able to get the lead. The Wildcats couldn't run out the clock after the Carr score, and Weatherford got a second chance after throwing an interception to Micah Johnson, who fumbled it back to FSU with 29 seconds to play. On their own 17, the Seminoles got a 24-yard catch from Carr and a ten-yard pass to Preston Parker to get to the UK 44 with a shot at a desperation pass with three seconds to play, but UK broke up the final desperation pass in the end zone.
Offensive Player of the Game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson completed 32 of 50 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns with an interception
Defensive Player of the Game: Kentucky LB Wesley Woodyard made 15 tackles
Stat Leaders: Florida State - Passing: Drew Weatherford, 22-48, 276 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Antone Smith, 17-156. Receiving: Preston Parker, 8-105
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 32-50, 358 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 28-152. Receiving: Rafael Little, 8-50, 1 TD

Thoughts & Notes ... Florida State played its guts out. With no depth and missing a slew of starters, the Noles hung tough for a full sixty minutes rarely playing like a short-handed team. ... Kentucky will obviously be happy about getting a second straight Music City Bowl win, but considering the circumstances, this wasn't exactly an impressive performance. The Wildcats should've been able to pound the ball and worn down the FSU defensive front, but couldn't do it. The Noles held on to the ball for almost 11 minutes in the third quarter. ... What is it about Florida State and running the ball in bowl games? After having no ground game last year, it ripped up UCLA in the Emerald Bowl, and this year it struggled all year long on the ground but got 156 yards out of Antone Smith against the Wildcats. ... FSU QB Drew Weatherford needed to be perfect, and he wasn't. To be fair, he didn't get a whole bunch of help on several key plays that could've changed the game. ... Andre Woodson became UK's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 40 for his career after tossing four against the Seminoles. ... Penalties killed Florida State with ten for 102 yards. Kentucky committed seven, but for just 45 yards.

Nov. 24
Tennessee 52 ... Kentucky 50 4OT
Following a two-yard Derrick Locke touchdown run in the fourth overtime to get Kentucky within two, QB Andre Woodson was stopped just short of the goal line and Tennessee hung on to clinch the East title. Erik Ainge threw seven touchdown passes including three in overtime with a 40-yard connection to Quintin Hancock for a score in the fourth overtime, followed up by the game-winning two-point conversion to Austin Rogers. Woodson made up for a mediocre first half by going ballistic in the second with three touchdown passes while leading the Wildcats on a 17-point run to close out regulation. He had a shot to win the game with eight seconds to play, but misfired in the end zone leading to a 20-yard Lones Seiber field goal to force overtime. Keenan Burton caught an eight-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring for UK, but UT answered with a ten-yard Gerald Jones catch. Kentucky had a shot to win it in the second overtime, but a Seiber field goal attempt was blocked. The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, but both teams failed on the two-point conversion attempt. The two combined for 1,084 yards of total offense 61 first downs and 827 passing yards.
Player of the game: Tennessee QB Erik Ainge completed 28 of 45 passes for 397 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions, and LB Jerod Mayo made 19 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, a half a sack and broke up a pass.
Stat Leaders: Tennessee - Passing: Erik Ainge, 28-45, 397 yds, 7 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Arian Foster, 27-118, 1 TD. Receiving: Arian Foster, 9-98, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 39-62, 430 yds, 6 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 24-77. Receiving: Rafael Little, 11-108

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Wildcats played their tails off, answering every big challenge against Tennessee until the final missed two point conversion. While they might have lost four of their final five games, it's hard to call the finish disappointing with the way the team battled against the Vols. The offense finally woke up after struggling so much against Georgia and Vanderbilt with Woodson showing just how good he is with a brilliant second half and overtime. He made a few big mistakes that'll knock him down a big or two in the eyes of the NFL scouts, like holding on to the ball too long at times and forced a few too many throws into bad spots, but he still had a fantastic game.

Nov. 17
Georgia 24 ... Kentucky 13
Georgia rallied from a 10-0 deficit with a 24-3 run on one-yard touchdown runs from Knowshown Moreno and Thomas Brown, and a ten-yard Matthew Stafford run. The story was the Bulldog defense that came up with five sacks, generated pressure all game long, and held he UK offense to 297 yards of total offense. The Wildcats started off the scoring with a 36-yard Kennan Burton catch and a 31-yard Lonas Seiber field goal, but could only manage a 44-yard Seiber field goal the rest of the way.
Player of the game: Georgia LB Rennie Curran made 13 tackles and a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 12-22, 99 yds. 2 INT
Rushing: Knowshown Moreno. 22-124, 1 TD. Receiving: Mo Massaquoi, 4-49
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 24-41, 268 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 16-32. Receiving: Steve Johnson, 8-88

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Kentucky's offense can't get back on track over the second half of the season and it's mostly due to the offensive line. Georgia's defensive front had its way with the Wildcat front five pressuring Andre Woodson all game long and stuffing the running game. The defense had a relatively strong game holding the Dawgs to 283 yards of total offense and forcing four turnovers, and now it'll have to do even more, while hoping the offense wakes up, to have a shot against Tennessee next week.

Nov. 10
Kentucky 27 ... Vanderbilt 20
In an ugly game with 21 penalties, 13 from Kentucky, Kentucky took the lead with just under six minutes to play on a four-yard Derrick Lock run, and held on. Vanderbilt got a one-yard touchdown run from Mackenzi Adams and two touchdown passes, but misfired on fourth and six on the UK 20 in the final few seconds to let the Cats hold on. Andre Woodson connected with Steve Johnson for a second quarter touchdown and Maurice Grinter ran for a one-yard score for the Cats.
Player of the game: Kentucky's Calvin Harrison made ten tackles and a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Vanderbilt - Passing: Mackenzi Adams, 20-31, 193 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Cassen Jackson-Garrison, 11-83. Receiving: Earl Bennett, 8-69
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 17-28, 222 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 15-70. Receiving:
Jacob Tamme, 4-50
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... What has happened to the Kentucky offense? A juggernaut earlier in the season, it stunk against Mississippi State and lost, had two weeks off, and was mediocre against Vanderbilt. The 13 penalties and struggles to run the ball consistently were glaring, and the O has to be far, far better to get by Georgia and Tennessee teams with everything to play for. It's time for Andre Woodson to start playing like a first round draft pick again. He's been fine, but he has to start making everyone around him shine.

Oct. 27
Mississippi State 31 ... Kentucky 14
Mississippi State took advantage of six Kentucky turnovers with two leading to ten third quarter points in the stunning upset. Kentucky's high-powered offense was outgained 352 yards to 319, with one touchdown coming on a 37-yard Steve Johnson catch on fourth down, and the other coming in the first quarter on an 18-yard Johnson catch. MSU got an 11-yard Jason Husband touchdown catch on the game's first drive. Anthony Dixon ran for two one-yard scores, and Christian Ducre ran for a 34-yard score.
Player of the game: Mississippi State RB Christian Ducre ran 19 times for 119 yards and a touchdown, and led the team with five catches for 30 yards
Stat Leaders: Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 24-42, 230 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Derrick Locke, 11-46. Receiving:
Jacob Tamme, 6-46
Mississippi State - Passing: Wesley Carroll, 17-28, 152 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Christian Ducre, 19-119, 1 TD. Receiving:
Christian Ducre, 5-30
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Excuses time. After playing LSU and Florida, Kentucky couldn't be mentally and physically up for dealing with Mississippi State. It showed. The offensive line got shoved around by the MSU defensive front, while the defense didn't do much to help the cause after the O gave up six turnovers. Even the special teams got involved with the disaster with a botched punt attempt. Now things get tough again, going on the road to face Vanderbilt and Georgia before dealing with Tennessee. Andre Woodson might be out of the Heisman race now, but he can still become a difference maker in the SEC race again.

Oct. 20
Florida 45 ... Kentucky 37
Tim Tebow threw four touchdown passes, highlighted by a 66-yard play to Louis Murphy and a one-yard jump-pass to Aaron Hernandez for a score and a 21-10 lead late in the first half. An eight-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell to open up the second half appeared to put the Gators on their way to a blowout, but Andre Woodson and the Wildcats bombed their way back. Dicky Lyons finished with three touchdown catches with a 50-yarder and a seven-yarder to pull within seven late in the fourth, but the Gators put it away with a two-yard Tebow touchdown run. Kentucky outgained the Gators 512 yards to 427.
Player of the game: Florida QB Tim Tebow completed 18 of 26 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns, and he ran 20 times for 78 yards and a score
Stat Leaders: Florida - Passing: Tim Tebow, 18-26, 256 yds, 4 TD
Rushing: Tim Tebow, 20-78, 1 TD. Receiving: Andre Caldwell, 6-73, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 35-50, 415 yds, 5 TD
Rushing:
Derrick Locke, 14-76. Receiving: Steve Johnson, 8-128

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Kentucky certainly gives its fans their money's worth. Andre Woodson and the offense did a great job of fighting their way back in the game against Florida, but the defense didn't have an answer for Tim Tebow. Considering Rafael Little was out again, the running game was just fine with Derrick Locke for a second straight week, but this game was all about Woodson. He got time, and he made Florida sweat. The SEC dream season is hardly over, but now the Wildcats will have to win its final four games against Miss State, at Vandy, at Georgia and Tennessee.

Oct. 13
Kentucky 45 ... LSU 37 3OT
In the third overtime, Kentucky scored on a seven-yard Steve Johnson touchdown catch. LSU had its turn, but ran it four straight times, getting stuffed by Braxton Kelly on fourth and two, and UK sealed the improbable win. LSU held a 27-14 lead late in the third quarter, but Kentucky scored the final 13 points of the half on two Lones Seiber field goals and an eight-yard Jacob Tamme touchdown grab. The Tigers had their shot at the end of regulation, but Colt David pushed a 57-yard field goal attempt wide left to force overtime. Derrick Locke ran for a one-yard touchdown on UK's first overtime possession, but LSU quickly answered with a two-yard Richard Murphy scoring run. The two teams traded field goals in the second overtime, with David nailing a 38-yarder and Seiber connecting from 43 yards out. The two teams combined for 19 penalties, with LSU hurt most by a roughing the passer call in the third overtime.
Player of the game: Kentucky LB Wesley Woodyard made 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: LSU - Passing: Matt Flynn, 17-35, 130 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Charles Scott, 7-94, 2 TD. Receiving: Brandon LaFell, 4-42
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 21-38, 250 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Derrick Locke, 20-64, 1 TD. Receiving: Steve Johnson, 7-134, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Chalk the win over LSU up to a tough defense that came through time and again late when it had to. This is a far cry from the D that got steamrolled over throughout last year, as it held up well throughout the second half, and when its manhood was challenge in the third overtime, it held up. Andre Woodson was solid, the running game did what it could, but against a supposedly unbreakable Tiger defense, getting 375 yards, and taking advantage of every opportunity, made all the difference. This win was huge, obviously, but it could be even bigger if UK can beat Florida next week. Then it would be time to dream big.

Oct. 4
South Carolina 38 ... Kentucky 23
South Carolina forced four Kentucky turnovers, with Eric Norwood taking two of the three fumbles for touchdowns, opening the scoring with a two-yard recovery and getting what turned out to be the winning score on a 53-yard return in the third quarter. UK got three Lonas Seiber field goals, and two Andre Woodson touchdown passes, including a six-yarder to Steve Johnson to pull within eight with seven minutes to play, but the Gamecocks marched 69 yards in seven plays, capped off with a 27-yard Cory Boyd touchdown run to seal the win. Kentucky managed five sacks, South Carolina got to Woodson three times.
Player of the game: South Carolina's Erick Norwood made five tackles, a tackle for loss, broke up two passes, and recovered two fumbles for touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: South Carolina - Passing: Chris Smelley, 17-30, 256 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Mike Davis, 17-62, 1 TD. Receiving: Kenny McKinley, 5-68
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 23-40, 227 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 25-135. Receiving: Keenan Burton, 7-76

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The UK offense went on some excellent drives against South Carolina, but the four turnovers, and the two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, were too much to overcome. The Gamecocks allowed Woodson to hit almost everything short, but they didn't let him push the ball deep often enough. Basically, Woodson took what was given to him, and even though the offense fought back late, it wasn't enough. The defense failed to get USC offense off the field late, and now UK faces the daunting task of facing LSU and Florida in an attempt to avoid falling out of the SEC race.

Sept. 29
Kentucky 45 ... Florida Atlantic 17
Andre Woodson threw five touchdown passes, with two to Dicky Lyons, and Micah Johnson returned an interception for a score, as UK rolled after the first 20 minutes. FAU got a 20-yard touchdown catch from Cortez Gent to pull within four, but the Wildcats cranked out a 24-point run to put it away. Woodson's record setting streak of 325 passes without an interception came to a stop when
Tavious Polo came up with his seventh of the year. UK outgained the Owls, 514 yards to 307.
Player of the game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson finished 26-of-33 for 301 yards, five touchdowns and an interception, running for four yards on two carries.
Stat Leaders: Florida Atlantic - Passing: Rusty Smith, 15-25, 184 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Charles Pierre, 14-56, 1 TD. Receiving: Cortez Gent, 5-53, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 26-33, 301 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 20-112. Receiving: Dicky Lyons, 8-76, 2 TDs
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... 5-0. Kentucky is getting it done with a balanced offense, good enough defense to get by, and a Heisman caliber season from Andre Woodson, who had yet another stellar game. While beating Florida Atlantic might not seem like that big a deal, this is a team, and an offense, the rolled over Minnesota. Now the real fun begins with a trip to South Carolina. Win that, and with LSU and Florida to follow, the Cats can start to dream big.

Sept. 22
Kentucky 42 ... Arkansas 29
Down 29-21 in the fourth quarter, Kentucky scored 21 unanswered points as Derrick Locke and Andre Woodson each ran for short scores and Keenan Burton caught a 32-yard touchdown pass. The Hogs were explosive with a 56-yard Darren McFadden touchdown run giving them a 20-7 first half lead, and a 82-yard Felix Jones kickoff return giving them their final points, but the UK defense forced three turnovers and didn't allow and offensive points in the second half.  Burton also added a 15-yard touchdown catch and Trevard Lindley scored on a 66-yard fumble return to give UK a 21-20 lead going into the fourth quarter, but a safety and the Jones score off the kickoff forced the Cats to make the comeback.
Player of the game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson finished 21-of-39 for 265 yards and two touchdowns, adding another score on the ground.
Stat Leaders: Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 21-39, 265 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing: Tony Dixon, 9-78. Receiving: Steve Johnson, 7-111
Arkansas - Passing: Casey Dick, 13-28, 157 yds, 2 INTs
Rushing:
Darren McFadden, 29-173, 1 TD. Receiving: Peyton Hillis, 2-44

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Now it's time to start giving some credit to the Kentucky defense. It gave up 338 rushing yards to Arkansas, but it kept the points off the board stopping drive after drive in the second half. Offensively, Andre Woodson has taken his game to another level. He might not be quite as accurate or as efficient as he was last year, but he's limiting his mistakes and is coming through with more key throws. Now the spotlight will really be on after next week's apparent layup against Florida Atlantic. With South Carolina, LSU and Florida up next, things will get really interesting.

Sept.15
Kentucky 40 ... Louisville 34
Andre Woodson connected with Steve Johnson for a 57-yard touchdown with 28 seconds to play to give Kentucky a 40-34 lead. Louisville made the final moments interesting as Brian Brohm's Hail Mary pass was batted into the arms of Harry Douglas, but he was tackled short of the goal line. Kentucky took a first quarter 13-0 lead, but Louisville took control on two Brohm touchdown passes and two of Anthony Allen's three touchdowns. Just when it appeared Kentucky was about to take over, going 78 yards on 11 plays on the opening drive of the second half, finishing up with a seven-yard John Conner touchdown catch, the Cards struck right back as Trent Guy took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a score. The two teams traded scores in the fourth quarterback the Wildcats went 74 yards in eight plays for the game-winning touchdown.
Player of the game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson finished 30-of-44 for 275 yards and four touchdown passes.
Stat Leaders: Louisville - Passing: Brian Brohm, 28-43, 366 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Anthony Allen, 18-96, 2 TDs. Receiving: Harry Douglas, 13-223, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 30-44, 275 yds, 4 TDs
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 27-151, 1 TD. Receiving: Keenan Burton, 9-99

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Wildcats erupted on the sidelines after what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown pass against Louisville. They weren't just jumping for joy; it seemed like the entire program was letting out one big exhale that it finally got past Louisville after all the pain and suffering for the last few years. The defense did as good a job as could be expected against the high-powered attack, and came up with enough pressure on Brian Brohm to keep him from getting too comfortable. The running game did a great job of taking the pressure off Andre Woodson, and if that continues, the SEC is in big trouble.

Sept. 8
Kentucky 56 ... Kent State 20
Kentucky took command of a 14-14 game with a 16-yard John Connor touchdown run and an 18-yard Tony Dixon dash in the third quarter, and then blew it wide open on a 51-yard Keenan Burton touchdown catch. Kent State got a big day from Eugene Jarvis, who ran for a 10-yard score and caught a 22-yard scoring pass, but it wasn't nearly enough. Andre Woodson threw two touchdown passes and ran for a one-yard score. Six different Kentucky players ran for touchdowns, highlighted by a 67-yard Derrick Locke dash with four minutes to play.
Player of the game: Kentucky QB Andre Woodson went 15-of-22 for 218 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a rushing touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Kent State
- Passing: Julian Edelman, 12-28, 129 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Julian Edelman, 24-135. Receiving: Eugene Jarvis, 3-63, 1 TD
Kentucky
- Passing: Andre Woodson, 15-22, 218 yds, 2 TDs
Rushing: Rafael Little, 13-102. Receiving: Keenan Burton, 7-109, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Kentucky was really looking ahead to Louisville ... right. The Wildcats did a great job of adjusting and opening things up against Kent State in the second half as several different players got involved and rolled up 484 yards of total offense. The run defense had no chance against the Golden Flash duo of Julian Edelman and Eugene Jarvis, allowing 324 rushing yards, but it's not like Brian Brohm is going to rumble like Edelman can. Once again, UK proved to be an explosive team that can hang with anyone as long as it doesn't make a slew of mistakes.

Sept. 1
Kentucky 50 ... Eastern Kentucky 10
Andre Woodson hit Dicky Lyons for a 51-yard touchdown pass on his first throw of the game, and the UK offense rolled from there scoring 30 points in the first 19 minutes. EKU broke the run with a 45-yard Logan O'Connor field goal, but the Wildcats answered early in the third quarter with a 38-yard Rafael Little touchdown run. UK outgained EKU 569 yards to 202 while amassing 34 first downs to EKU's 12.
Player of the game ... Kentucky QB Andre Woodson threw for 250 yards and three scores on 20-of-29 passing.
Stat Leaders: Eastern Kentucky -
Passing: Allan Holland, 16-25, 72 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mark Dunn, 12-70  Receiving: Evan Cromer, 3-13, 1 TD
Kentucky - Passing: Andre Woodson, 20-29, 250 yds, 3 TDs
Rushing:
Rafael Little, 12-135, 1 TD  Receiving: Dicky Lyons, 6-113, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... All the offensive parts were clicking in a laugher of an opener against Eastern Kentucky, and now the task will be to maintain focus. Kent State has a good enough defense to give Andre Woodson and the boys some problems, and it has a running game to possibly pull off the upset if UK is already game-planning for Louisville. If the defense can do what it did against EKU and allow just two of 14 third down conversions, this will be a magical season. Of course, Louisville and Arkansas aren't Eastern Kentucky.

Sept. 1 – Eastern Kentucky

Sept. 8 - Kent State
Offense:
The Kent State offense was all pass, no run in 2005 (and it was really no run). It was all run, little pass in 2006. Now the ground game should be even stronger with the 1-2 rushing punch of Eugene Jarvis and Greg Keys along with the mobility of QB Julian Edelman. Four starters return to a line that needs to be better in pass protection, and a go-to receiver has to emerge with the loss of WR Najah Pruden. In the end, it'll all come down to Edelman. If he's playing well, the offense will shine.
Defense:
Somewhat quietly, Kent State had one of the MAC's best defenses last season getting into the backfield, and to the quarterback, on a regular basis, while getting a phenomenal statistical season out of the secondary. CB Jack Williams and SS Fritz Jacques are good defenders to build around, but the rest of the secondary is a question mark. The front seven, in KSU's 3-4, should be excellent led by tackle Colin Ferrell and the Buck, the hybrid of end and linebacker, Kevin Hogan, should be one of the MAC's top pass rushing terrors. The D won't be as good as last year, but it won't be bad.

Sept. 15 - Louisville
Offense: The coaching staff is new, but the results won’t differ much from last season when Louisville rung up 37 points and 475 yards a game.  The Cardinals will spread the field and ask future first round draft choice Brian Brohm to distribute the ball to his plethora of playmakers.  Brohm’s embarrassment of riches at receiver includes senior Harry Douglas, junior Mario Urrutia and senior Gary Barnidge, who combined for 159 receptions and 16 touchdowns in 2006.  Head coach Steve Kragthorpe and offensive coordinator Charlie Stubbs love leaning on the tight end, so Barnidge could be particularly busy this fall.  Even without Michael Bush the running game is in good shape with the returns of Anthony Allen and George Stripling, a thunder and lightning combo that had 20 touchdowns a year ago.  If Kragthorpe was able to supercharge the Tulsa offense, just imagine what he’ll do with all the resources they have in Louisville.
Defense: Not unlike the offense, the Cardinal D is aggressive, unpredictable and built on speed.  They’ll attack regularly which often means sacks, turnovers and the occasional busted play that goes for 65 yards.  The latter could happen a little more frequently in 2007, as the secondary adjusts to three new starters and uncertainty at cornerback.  Even without All-American tackle Amobi Okoye, the defensive line figures to be among the best in the Big East.  Sophomore end Peanut Whitehead and junior tackle Earl Heyman aren’t household names today, but both have the explosiveness to change that by November.  Senior linebacker Malik Jackson is a disruptive force with enough range to wreak havoc all over the field.

Sept. 22 – at Arkansas
Offense: The Gus Malzahn experience quickly got pushed aside, forgetting about his spread offense to better utilize the devastating running attack. Now it'll be up to new offensive coordinator David Lee, who'll try to run a pro style passing attack, but will spend most of his time figuring out how to get the ball into the hands of the magnificent running duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. The line, despite the loss of three starters, will be fantastic for the running game, but suspect in pass protection. Marcus Monk is an elite receiver, but a number two option has to emerge and Casey Dick has to throw the ball effectively and consistently.
Defense: It'll be a good defense, but there are some big-time talent losses in linemen Jamaal Anderson and Keith Jackson, corner Chris Houston, and linebacker Sam Olajubutu. There's plenty of speed and athleticism to go around in what should be a solid back seven, but everyone has to stay healthy. The line needs tackle depth with Marcus Harrison questionable after tearing his knee this spring. Overall, coordinator Reggie Herring will keep things aggressive with tons of plays in the backfield, along with lots of pressure applied by the defensive backs.

Sept. 29 - Florida Atlantic
Offense: Things should be more consistent now that the quarterback situation is settled (at least to start the year) with Rusty Smith the full-time starter and Sean Clayton the backup. The running backs are experienced and quick, and Frantz Simeon leads a decent receiving corps, but it's all up to the line which was decent in pass protection last season but awful in the running game. It's a small front five by design, and that's a major issue for a ground game that averaged just 110 yards per game and an offense that struggled to amass 300 yards and 15 points per outing. 
Defense: The defense should be tremendous is all the starters play as expected. The back seven will be among the best in the Sun Belt with all three starters returning to the linebacking corps, two All-Sun Belt caliber safeties in Kris Bartels and Taheem Acevedo, and a shut-down corner in Corey Small. The defensive front gets three starters back led by top pass rusher Josh Pinnick and star tackle Jervonte Jackson. Even so, the run defense will be average, while the pass defense will be great.


Oct. 4 – at South Carolina
Offense: This should be a balanced attack that'll rely on the running game early on and the steady play of emerging QB Blake Mitchell to be more explosive and consistent than last year. The big concern is a line that was overmatched throughout the spring as it tried to break in three new starters. Getting a push for the nice 1-2 rushing punch of Cory Boyd and Mike Davis is job one, while Mitchell will have to make quick decisions early on until things start to come together. The loss of Sidney Rice won't be a killer if Kenny McKinley handles the number one job like he's expected to and a good number two emerges.
Defense: The defense has plenty of returning experience, depth, young options waiting to step up and shine, and good stars to build around. MLB Jasper Brinkley is one of the best in America, and now his twin brother will move from defensive end to outside linebacker to help out (though he might end up back on the line). The secondary is emerging as a potential force if everyone starters to play consistently. There's speed at corner, depth and experience at safety, and an emerging star in SS Emanuel Cook. The defensive line has to be far better against the run, and it should be with the return of Marque Hall from injury and the emergence of freshman Ladi Ajiboye.


Oct. 13 - LSU
Offense: There's a little bit of nervousness among LSU fans with a major change underway in the offense under new coordinator Gary Crowton. There'll be more option, more quick timing patterns, and quicker reads on the line. Fortunately, the loss of JaMarcus Russell won't hurt as much as it would for almost any other program with Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux returning to run the attack. The backfield is loaded with options led by star newcomer Keiland Williams working behind a great line with enough returning experience to dominate. The receiving corps won't be as productive without Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, but Early Doucet and Brandon LeFall will be a great 1-2 combination.
Defense: The nation's number three defense in each of the last two years might crank things up yet another notch with eight starters returning led by the nation's most impressive line. Tackle Glenn Dorsey and end Tyson Jackson might be top five draft picks next season, while Ali Highsmith leads a fantastic linebacking corps that'll only get better once the star prospect backups get more time. Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon form a top lock-down corner tandem, while Craig Steltz and Curtis Taylor will be more than just fill-ins for safeties LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels. With all the talent returning, expect more big plays, more turnovers, and more dominance against the average to bad teams.


Oct. 20 - Florida
Offense: Now it's time to see how this baby runs. Now the Urban Meyer spread offense will do what it's supposed to with Tim Tebow at the controls full-time, and with a slew of speedy players around him. The offensive line isn't going to wow anyone, but it's experienced, and good enough to win with. The receiving corps has explosion, led by Percy Harvin, Andre Caldwell, and some tremendous tight ends, and the running backs, with the emergence of smallish speedster Chris Rainey, will have more pop. Now it's up to Tebow to not only shine, but stay healthy with two true freshmen behind him.
Defense:
This is what's called giving Florida the benefit of the doubt. Anyone else replacing nine starters, needing a slew of true freshman to play big roles right away, and/or had the issues the Gators have on the line and at corner, would be instantly dismissed from any SEC East title talk much less the national championship discussion. The recruiting classes have brought in a ton of ultra-fast, ultra-athletic player for the back seven, but there isn't enough size up front, or developed depth anywhere, to hope for any sort of consistency. No, things won't fall off the map after finishing sixth in the nation in scoring and total defense, but there will be some major growing pains to fight through.

Oct. 27 - Mississippi State
Offense: It might not be saying much, but this should be the best offense yet under Sylvester Croom. The line gets four starters back, with the fifth spot occupied by Mike Brown, a starter late in the year and the best blocker up front. The receiving corps is easily the deepest area on the offense with good talent and a world of upside, but QB Michael Henig has to stay healthy and get them the ball consistently. Anthony Dixon is an All-SEC caliber running back, and true freshman Robert Elliott should become a fantastic backup. The overall depth is lacking, so injury problems could be disastrous.
Defense: The whole will be better than the parts. The Bulldogs couldn't hold down the better offensive teams last year, and things might not be better right off the bat with tremendous concerns all over the place after losing six key starters. There's plenty of speed and athleticism, but this is a young, inexperienced defense that'll have to force more turnovers and do a much better job of getting to the quarterback. End Titus Brown and defensive back Derek Pegues are All-SEC talents who have to be disruptive forces from day one. The line needs more pass rushers, the linebacking corps has to do more against the pass, and the secondary is relying on green corners so Pegues can play safety.

Nov. 10 – at Vanderbilt
Offense: The offense is loaded with experience with nine starters returning including tackle Brian Stamper, who missed most of last year. The line should be tremendous with five senior starters that know how to pass protect and should be better for the running game. Junior receiver Earl Bennett is one of the nation's most productive playmakers and should finally start to get the attention he deserves. Quarterback Chris Nickson is a dangerous run/pass combination with the potential to grow into a star if he can cut down on his interceptions. The running backs aren't special, but they're experienced.
Defense: Vanderbilt won't have one of the SEC's better defenses, but it'll be far better with seven returning starters and plenty of experience. Most importantly, there are plenty of all-stars to build around. Tackle Theo Horrocks, end Curtis Gatewood, safeties Reshard Langford and Ryan Hamilton, and linebacker Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs are all capable of making All-SEC teams. The cornerbacks have to shine, a second defensive tackle has to take the heat off Horrocks, and the stars have to be stars for a major overall improvement. Coming up with more turnovers would be nice, but just being better in all areas might be enough to dramatically change the record.


Nov. 17 – at Georgia
Offense: The offense was a disaster at times throughout an inconsistent season, but that was to be expected with a true freshman at quarterback, at times, injury problems at running back, and the team's best receiver out. Now, sophomore QB Matthew Stafford appears on the verge of being the superstar he's supposed to be, Thomas Brown is expected to be back at some point to help out the running game, after missing the second half of last year with a knee injury, and Sean Bailey should be the number one target now that he's back from his knee injury. The offense, at least early on, will revolve around big Kregg Lumpkin and the running game, but the line needs to produce as well as it did this spring. A mega-concern going into the off-season, now the front five appears to be a strength.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez has his work cut out for him. After losing star corner Paul Oliver to academic ineligibility, the defense is woefully short on sure-thing veteran stars with only three returning starters. There's plenty of potential, speed, and athleticism, but several things have to happen for this to be nearly as good as the number eight defense it was last year. The pass rush should be there in time, but it might take the wheels of outside linebackers Darius Dewberry and Dannell Ellerbe to generate some consistent pressure early on. The secondary needs to unearth more big play options, and a number one corner has to quickly emerge. While undersized, the line is tough and should grow into a rock as the year goes on. This will be a far, far better defense after a few games. By then the coaching staff will have the right combination.

Nov. 24 - Tennessee
Offense: The return of David Cutcliffe as offensive coordinator made a night-and-day difference in the passing game. Now he needs to get the running game to do more, and there needs to be even more from QB Erik Ainge after a nice bounceback year. The receiving corps loses the top three targets and the line loses the two best players, so it'll be up to the trio of Arian Foster, LaMarcus Coker and Montario Hardesty to carry the running game and the offense. Ainge has to make everyone around him better until new producers at receiver emerge.
Defense: Is there a defense in America that's produced less with so much promise and potential? The Vols have a who's who of top high school prospects that haven't quite panned out, and now that has to change to have any hope of winning the SEC East. Jerod Mayo will move from the outside to the middle and Jonathan Hefney returns at free safety to give the Vols two All-America caliber defenders to build around. Now there needs to be more of a pass rush after coming up with an inexcusable 17 sacks, and the new starting tackles have to quickly emerge. The secondary has to replace three starters, but should be fine in time, while the linebacking corps, if healthy, will be among the SEC's best.

 

  

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