By JEFFREY McMURRAY
Associated Press Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - The cornerback who leads the nation in
interceptions is about to face the quarterback who's thrown the
most consecutive passes in history without one.
What might have otherwise been an overlooked tuneup for No. 14
Kentucky against Florida Atlantic has an intrigue subplot thanks to
Andre Woodson's streak and Tavious Polo's six picks.
Last week against Arkansas, Woodson broke Trent Dilfer's NCAA
mark for the most consecutive passes without an interception. The
new record now stands at 296.
Polo, a freshman whose interception total is two more than
anybody else heading into week five, is talented but nothing the
Wildcats aren't used to seeing, Woodson said.
"He's obviously a great player, but we see a lot of players
like that every week in the SEC," Woodson said.
As for Polo, he's well aware of Woodson's record.
"It is a great challenge coming up," he said. "He is a great
quarterback. He is smart, throws well and his receivers run good
routes. He puts it there right for them at the right time. We have
to go out and do what we do best, and try to snap his streak."
What the Owls (3-1), led by Kentucky alumnus and legendary coach
Howard Schnellenberger, do best is win the turnover battle - and
it's not just Polo either.
He's had six of their 10 interceptions, and the team has also
scooped up three fumbles while only turning the ball over four
times. That ratio ranks second nationally behind Cincinnati.
Kentucky (4-0) is tied for 12th, with six more turnovers gained
Polo says the mind-set of being a ball hawk is something that
rubs off on his team.
"It is a knack for the ball," he said. "I was a receiver in
high school so I like to go up and get the ball. I see every ball
as my ball and something I should go up and get."
Woodson's interception stinginess isn't confined to the playing
field. Two of the top defensive backs on his own team, Marcus
McClinton and Trevard Lindley, both said they've only picked him
off twice in daily practices dating back to summer.
"If you pick him, you've got to throw it in his face because he
rarely gives one," McClinton said. "You say, 'Thank you, happy
Kentucky's offensive coordinator Joker Phillips says Woodson
certainly has skill and a quick release, but he's also had some
"A lot of times you see tipped balls right into the hands of
defensive backs," Phillips said. "We've had a Hail Mary that
could have easily been an interception. We've thrown an
interception off an offsides on the defense that could have easily
not been called an offsides. So there's a lot of luck involved,
Woodson said he didn't know he was approaching the record until
after the Louisville game two weeks ago when somebody told him he'd
broken the Southeastern Conference record. He didn't know which
pass broke the national mark. Turned out, it was a heave to the
sideline after he found nobody open.
"I thought that was pretty funny," he said of the
Woodson's top receiver, Keenan Burton, says there's no pressure
on him to continue any streak other than the Wildcats' five-game
"He's got the record now, so I'm pretty sure he's not even
worried about it," Burton said. "It's not an issue, and it's
never been an issue. If he throws a pick, fine. He just wants to
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)