Kentucky's linebackers are coached by Chuck Smith who has completed his third season as the linebackers coach at his alma mater. The preview in 2007 for the linebacking corps was optimism. Senior linebacker Wesley Woodyard is clearly the best player on the UK defense, and was coming off a 2006 campaign in which he made 122 tackles, including 80 solo stops. Woodyard has been the heart of the Wildcats defense for the last three seasons. The senior has led the team in tackles for three straight seasons and has 305 total tackles, 222 of them solo, for his career. Despite being only 6’1” and 220lbs, the surprisingly durable Woodyard has played in at least 10 games in each of his 4 seasons, not missing a game the last three years.
Playing the weak side, Woodyard and QB Andre Woodson took command of a young Wildcats team and led them to a 7-5 record and a Music City Bowl appearance and win in Nashville against Clemson in 2006. In 2007, Woodyard shared the team’s most valuable defensive player plaudits with sophomore defensive end Jeremy Jarmon. It was the second straight year Woodyard has garnered this award.
One NFL draft service has this to say about Woodyard,"Woodyard shows many of the same abilities in coverage as Tampa Bay linebackers Derrick Brooks and Cato June, two longtime Cover-2 defenders. Woodyard would have to get with a Cover-2 team to realistically have a shot at making an impact in the NFL."
Woodyard at weak side linebacker for the Wildcats had 124 tackles, 6 1/2 tackles for losses, 1 fumble recovery, and 2 1/2 sacks. He was ranked second in the SEC in tackles. At middle linebacker is Junior Braxton Kelley who had 57 tackles, 1 interception , and 1/2 sack. At strong side linebacker is Junior Johnny Williams who had 49 tackles.
Kentucky's defense was ranked #5 in the SEC in sacks with 23 on the year. Against the run, Kentucky ranked #10 in the SEC allowing 190 yards a game. They were last in the SEC in allowing the most third down conversions. They were also ranked last in SEC in tackles for loss.
Key Stat: Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard ranked #2 in SEC in tackles for 2007.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
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