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WOODSON SPARKLES AS CATS ARE OFF TO BEST START SINCE '84

Rich Brooks' post-game news conference had lasted about eight minutes when the media ran out of questions.

That led Brooks to quip, "You guys must have been 5-0 around here an awful lot."Actually, there was not much to ask or say about Kentucky's 45-17 win over Florida Atlantic yesterday. Other than the fact quarterback Andre Woodson threw for a career-high five touchdowns, it wasn't flashy.

But the Cats did what they had to do against Howard Schnellenberger's Owls. They took a 28-10 halftime lead and were never threatened. And they were able to escape without any major injuries as they get ready for Thursday night's huge nationally televised game at South Carolina.

The only injury was a sprained ankle to starting free safety Marcus McClinton, and as Brooks mentioned, the 14th-ranked Wildcats are 5-0 for the first time since 1984. It was Kentucky's 10th win in its last 11 games, its best 11-game stretch since the 1977 team finished the season 10-1.

"We've positioned ourselves to have an opportunity to do some pretty exciting things. But we've got a lot of tough games ahead of us," Brooks said.

The UK players said the team took a businesslike approach to the game all week and carried the "taking care of business" theme into the team meeting at the hotel on Friday.

"We didn't want to come out here and get a scare," sophomore defensive end Jeremy Jarmon said. "We knew what we had to do. One of the things we talked about was, 'Hey, let's go out here, get to 5-0, and get ready for South Carolina.' "

Not to say the Cats were perfect. Led by sophomore quarterback Rusty Smith, the Owls passed for 159 yards in the first half and closed to within 14-10 on Smith's 20-yard TD strike to Cortez Gent.

Led by Woodson, the Kentucky offense held up its end of the deal, scoring touchdowns on each of its four first-half possessions. Woodson's second TD pass to Dicky Lyons Jr. put the Wildcats up 21-10 with 5:37 left in the second quarter. Then, with 1:27 to go, Woodson hit a wide-open Keenan Burton on the left side of the field, and Burton dived into the end zone for a 34-yard score to give UK an 18-point halftime cushion.

Defensive coordinator Steve Brown said he lit into his unit at the break.

"I don't know if our guys were mentally drained after two big wins, but we went into halftime and had to light a fire under them," Brown said. "To compete at a high level, we have to have our intensity up for the full 60 minutes."

The Wildcats' defense responded to the challenge, limiting FAU to 89 second-half yards, many of which came on a drive midway through the fourth quarter after UK had put in its second-teamers.

While Woodson saw his NCAA record streak of 325 passes without an interception end in the third quarter, he didn't do anything to hurt his ever-growing Heisman Trophy campaign. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound junior finished 26-for-33 for 301 yards and five touchdowns. Lyons caught eight passes for 76 yards and two scores, Burton had six catches for 100 yards and a TD, and tight end Jacob Tamme caught five passes for 58 yards.

"He played really a remarkable game," Brooks said of Woodson. "He was both productive and efficient, and he spread the ball around."

So while it wasn't a Picasso-like performance, Brooks will take it and run with it.

"I'm not sure we had our A game, particularly on the defensive side of the ball," Brooks said. "But we did enough good things that I can't be unhappy with what we accomplished. I'm pleased that we did what we had to do."

Brooks said the Cats will practice a little longer than usual today and have full practices Monday and Tuesday as they get ready for a matchup with the Gamecocks that will have serious implications in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.

"There's not many teams that can say they're 5-0," Jarmon said. "And after Thursday night, we want to be one of the few teams that can say they're 6-0."

Date story ran: Sunday, September 30, 2007

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