Story published: Sunday, September 10, 2006
The one thing Kentucky did do fairly well against Louisville last week wasmove the ball through the air, as quarterback Andre Woodson threw for 231yards and three touchdowns.
So when the Cats looked at Texas State's stats and saw that the Bobcatsgave up 356 passing yards to Tarleton State last week, UK had to feel goodabout its aerial attack last night.Sure enough, Woodson was able to pick apart the Bobcats' porous passdefense, throwing for three more touchdowns as Kentucky posted a 41-7 win inits home opener last night at Commonwealth Stadium.
Texas State spent most of the evening putting eight or nine men in the boxand blitzing, and Kentucky made the Bobcats pay through the air.
"Their defense is structured to stop the run," said UK offensivecoordinator Joker Phillips. "We knew if we could protect, we could get somethings going downfield."
The Cats had people open all night long. Dicky Lyons Jr. caught a 10-yardslant for Kentucky's first score. Lyons Jr. then ran a crisscross play withfellow receiver Keenan Burton and stood and waited alone on the left sidelinefor Woodson to float him a 35-yard TD that put the Cats up 20-0 with 6:36 leftin the second quarter.
"We saw their weakness," said Lyons, who made his first career start lastnight. "We picked out a couple of plays that we knew would be big hitters, andthey worked."
Lyons now has four touchdown catches on five receptions this year. Burtonled all receivers with five catches for 80 yards.
"Dicky can be a big-play guy for us," Phillips said. "He's a greatcomplement to Keenan, especially when teams are keying on Keenan."
Woodson picked up another easy TD when he play-faked and threw to fullbackJohn Conner in the flat. Conner took it in untouched for a 17-yardcatch-and-run as Kentucky took a 27-0 lead into halftime.
Woodson finished the half by completing 10 consecutive passes, and Kentuckydidn't punt until the 10:21 mark of the third quarter. Woodson finished13-for-20 for 197 yards.
Once again, it took Kentucky quite a while to get untracked. On UK's firstplay from scrimmage, running back Rafael Little was dropped for a 2-yard loss.Little then fumbled on the next play, and TSU linebacker Jeremy Castilloreturned it 24 yards to the Wildcats' 6-yard line.
But the UK defense, whipping boys in last week's 59-28 loss to Louisville,answered the bell.
Linebacker Wesley Woodyard stuffed Daniel Jolly on fourth-and-goal from the1 and forced Jolly to cough the ball up into the hands of Roger Williams.
"That was really big; maybe the turning point of the game," said UKdefensive coordinator Mike Archer. "Who knows what happens if they go in andscore? That was a big boost mentally for our guys."
Woodson's only mistake of the night came on UK's second possession when hispass intended for Jacob Tamme was overthrown and intercepted by TSU's WalterMusgrove.
But UK got the ball back two plays later when Marcus McClinton picked offTexas State quarterback Chase Wasson.
Coach Rich Brooks liked the way his team responded when the Bobcats hadthem on the ropes early.
"I think the struggle to start was maybe a good thing because we found outwe can get on track," he said. "We turned the ball over twice, we were kind ofon our heels a little bit, and the defense stood up and made a play to get usback the ball, and then we took it over and did some very good things."
Brooks and Archer had expressed concerned over the fact that the defensehad one less day to get ready for Texas State's unique spread-option offense.But the Bobcats picked up only 210 yards of offense.
"Our defense, on a short week to prepare for what they had to prepare for,did a good job," Brooks said.
It was the largest margin of victory in the Rich Brooks era, and itcouldn't have come at a better time.
"I think it's obviously a game that we had to win and we should have won,but I think we won it the right way," Brooks said.