Sidelines with John Clay

Logan Woodside, Damien Harris, former Kentucky prep football stars, off to strong 2016 starts

Former Franklin County High School quarterback Logan Woodside has thrown 11 touchdown passes and only one interception this season for Toledo.
Former Franklin County High School quarterback Logan Woodside has thrown 11 touchdown passes and only one interception this season for Toledo. AP

Random notes:

▪ A pair of Central Kentucky products, who are playing college football outside state lines in 2016, are off to fast starts.

One is Toledo’s junior quarterback Logan Woodside. The former Franklin County star is No. 2 nationally in pass efficiency with a rating of 200.2 Only Washington’s Jake Browning, at 206.9, has a better rating.

Woodside was Toledo’s quarterback in 2014, throwing for 2,263 yards when starter Phillip Ely was lost for the season after the second game. When Ely returned last season, Woodside redshirted. He won the job back during this fall camp and completed 23 of 31 passes for 371 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in a season-opening win over Arkansas State.

Since then, he has completed 13 of 25 for 329 yards and four scores, with one interception, in a win over Maine. In the Rockets’ 52-17 thumping of Fresno State last Saturday, Woodson completed 15 of 26 passes for 239 yards and four scores. His season totals to date: 11 touchdowns, one interception.

Meanwhile, former Madison Southern star Damien Harris is off to a fast start for Alabama. The sophomore rushed for 138 yards on just nine carries in Bama’s 52-6 win over Southern Cal on Sept. 3. After gaining 45 yards on 11 carries in the Tide’s 38-10 win over Western Kentucky, Harris carried 16 times for 144 yards last week as Alabama won a 48-43 shootout at Ole Miss. Through three games, Harris leads the SEC in yards per carry at 9.1.

▪ Speaking of rushing yards, the 181 gained by Boom Williams last Saturday against New Mexico State was the most by a Kentucky running back since the underrated Rafael Little gained 198 yards at Vanderbilt back in 2005.

▪ By the way, we get Brent Musburger and the SEC Network for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. UK-South Carolina tilt at Commonwealth Stadium. Oh yeah, Jesse Palmer and Kaylee Hartung will be there, too.

▪ Everyone knew Rick Stansbury could get players. Not sure everyone knew Stansbury could get star players this quickly at Western Kentucky. After securing a commitment from five-star center Mitchell Robinson for 2017, Stansbury picked up a commitment from consensus top-60 recruit Josh Anderson out of Baton Rouge, La., on Wednesday.

▪ Ex-UK wide receiver and former Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown is off to a hot start in his second year at Troy. His Trojans are 2-1, and the loss was by just six points at Clemson. Last Saturday, Troy beat former UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and Southern Miss 37-31. Southern Miss beat Kentucky in the season opener, of course. This Saturday, Troy takes on New Mexico State, which just lost to UK last week.

▪ Mark Stoops isn’t the only defensive coordinator turned head coach having trouble on the defensive side of the ball. Down at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong’s defense is ranked 106th out of 128 FBS teams.

▪ Tennessee will try to snap an 11-game losing streak to Florida when the Gators come to Knoxville on Saturday. New UT defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said this week, “I was hired to win this game. I was told on numerous occasions that my job is to beat (Florida).”

▪ Stephen Johnson’s 240.64 pass efficiency rating last Saturday was the highest by a UK quarterback with 20-or-more attempts since Tim Couch’s 240.85 vs. Louisville in 1998. Couch was 29-of-39 for 498 yards with seven touchdowns that day. Saturday, Johnson completed 17 of 22 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

▪ Someone asked me this week what happened to Pikeville native and former PGA pro Robert Damron. These days, you can find the 43-year-old on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show.

▪ Good news for Bengals fans Wednesday. Tight end Tyler Eifert practiced for the first time after undergoing offseason ankle surgery. The Bengals (1-1) open their home schedule against the world champion Denver Broncos on Sunday.

▪ The Bengals have rushed for just 103 yards in two games.

▪ Florida is reportedly courting Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin for its athletic director opening. Stricklin, former assistant AD at UK, has strong ties to Starkville, where he has been AD since 2010, but think Florida would be difficult to turn down.

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