by Paul Lyboult
(Syracuse, NY )
The Kentucky Wildcats football team defeated Florida State 35-28 in the 2007 Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 31, 2007. The win capped back-to -back-bowl appearances for the first time since 1999 and showcased the progress by 5th year coach Rich Brooks. During his first three seasons Brooks won only 9 games, but the past 2 seasons he has won 16. Also during the past 2 years the Wildcats were led by record setting quarterback Andre Woodson.
In his first year as a starter in 2006 Woodson passed for over 3,000 yards and 30 tds leading to a bowl appearance for the first time since the year after Tim Couch left in 1998. Woodson followed up his debut season with a sensational 2007 campaign breaking the SEC touchdown passing record with 40 and also securing the team's second consecutive bowl victory. Before his arrival Kentucky hadn't seen a bowl victory in over 20 years.
The 2 years with Woodson at the helm helped cap a revival of Kentucky Wildcat football. The once proud program had been in shambles as of late, and progress seen in former coach Guy Morris's 7-5 campaign in 2002 were quickly erased when the coach bolted for Baylor in 2003. For fans expectations were more than exceeded and it gave all a glimmer a
hope that Kentucky would no longer be considered just a basketball school.
The team saw many highs in 2007 with wins over Arkansas and National Champion LSU, along with a top ten ranking for the first time in what seemed like centuries. 2008 Wildcat fans expect even more, including a run at a berth in the SEC championship game. For Coach Brooks and the rest of the returning players those expectations will have to be met without the services of star QB Woodson.
The graduated senior will soon become a probable first day pick in the 2008 NFL draft. While some teams have no need to draft a quarterback high, others including the Falcons, Bears, Panthers, and possibly Ravens will be looking.
Brooks backs his former starter by complimenting Woodson for his knowledge of the game, NFL prototype size at 6'5, and most importantly his leadership ability. Brooks should know something about the NFL as he coached the St. Louis Rams for the '95 & 96' seasons.
For Woodson it is a new beginning at the next level as he will attempt to become the first Kentucky QB drafted on day one since Tim Couch.
For the 2008 Kentucky football team it's a new beginning without their record setting quarterback.
For other articles by Paul Lyboult, go to SEC Football Blog