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August 23, 2007

Olin's Notebook: Keeping the streak alive


Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. Click his name to send him a question for his weekly mailbag.
Previous notebooks
Aug. 8: New tradition
Aug. 15: No. 2 not so bad

Given a choice, Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson would rather ignore his streak.

Like a pitcher with a no-hitter in progress, Woodson won't even acknowledge that he enters the college football season with a school-record 162 consecutive passes without an interception unless someone else mentions it.

And as sure as there is bluegrass in Lexington, someone will.

"I haven't really thought about it," Woodson said of his streak. "I have heard about it, but I try not to think about it. That's when you tend to mess up a little bit."

A list of streaks and milestones annually accompany the arrival of football season as programs and coaches approach significant or historic victories. Players and teams seek to extend the success - or end the failures - of previous seasons.

There are always running backs with streaks of 100-yard rushing games like Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice, who has the nation's current longest streak with seven.

There are always teams on a roll, like Auburn - which this year hopes to extend its five-game winning streak against rival Alabama.

And there are typically teams like Vanderbilt, which hasn't played in a bowl game in 25 years, striving to end dubious streaks.

Yet of all the active streaks and attainable milestones for this season, none may be more important than Woodson's. His stretch of interception-free pass attempts dates back to the second half of the Wildcats' 24-20 upset of Georgia last season.

After throwing two interceptions that day, Woodson did not have a pass picked off in the next four games. Kentucky went 3-1 in that span.

Avoiding turnovers was a huge factor in the Wildcats' eight-victory showing of '06. Protecting the ball figures to be a big key to maintaining success this year.

As a sophomore in 2005, Woodson threw just six touchdown passes and six interceptions and averaged an interception in every 42. 1 attempts. Kentucky finished 3-8 that season.

Last year, his first under the tutelage of quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders, Woodson threw 31 touchdown passes and seven interceptions while averaging 59.8 attempts between picks.

"Coach Sanders just stresses how important it is to be needy not greedy," Woodson said. "A lot of times in a game it's smart to take the drop-off to the running back several times until eventually something opens up down field.

"I just try to make smart decisions. A lot of times you want to make big plays or throw deep balls, but it's better to be consistent, dump it off and go to the smart choices."

Maintaining that mentality may be difficult after all the offseason attention Woodson received. He was a consensus choice as the preseason All-Southeastern Conference quarterback and was even named preseason All-American by ESPN.

Some might feel the need to live up to the hype after receiving so much acclaim, yet Woodson vows to stay with the approach that made him successful.

"A lot of times you find yourself wanting to go down field, get the big play and the crowd goes wild," he said. "But I have to focus on what's important and make smart decisions. If the cornerback is off on one side and the other corner is pressing, you go at the corner that is off."

That's the approach that enabled Woodson to post the lowest interception ratio in Southeastern Conference history and put together a school-record streak.

Sooner or later his streak will end, but Woodson doesn't really want to talk about it.

Here's a list of some other significant streaks and milestones to look for this season:


  • Michigan running back Mike Hart has 768 consecutive touches without losing a fumble.

  • Rice receiver Jarett Dillard has caught a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive games, which is three short of the NCAA record.

  • Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan has thrown touchdown passes in 26 consecutive games and recorded 12 games in a row in which he's passed for at least 300 yards.

  • Michigan has the nation's longest streak with 32-consecutive bowl appearances and 275 games in which it has scored.

  • Nebraska enters this season with 282 consecutive sellouts.

  • Cornhuskers wide receiver Terrence Nunn has caught at least one pass in 26 consecutive games and is within reach of Johnny Rodgers' school record of 37 straight.

  • Southern California has won 33 consecutive home games, which is a Pac-10 record.

  • Navy has five consecutive victories over Army. A win this season would set a record for the longest streak by either team in the series.

  • Pittsburgh kicker Conor Lee has an active streak of 47 consecutive extra points which puts him well within reach of the school record of 60.


  • San Jose State's Dick Tomey will coach in the 300th Division I-A game of his career when the Spartans open the season against Arizona State. He'll become the 20th coach in history to reach that mark.

  • Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves needs three sacks to set a new school record.

  • Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson is two victories away from reaching 150 for his career.

  • California receiver DeSean Jackson will tie the NCAA career record for punt returns for touchdowns if he brings three back for scores this season. That might seem like a long shot, but he returned for four touchdowns last year and has five in his career.

  • Cal kicker Tom Schniever is 40 points shy of becoming the Bears' all-time leading scorer.

  • Southern California needs seven victories to reach the 750th in program history.

  • Western Michigan, projected among the top teams in the MAC, is 10 victories away of reaching the 500th in program history.

  • Navy coach Paul Johnson needs one victory to reach his 100th career win.

  • Navy is also trying to become the first team in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing for three consecutive years.

    Trivia question

    What is the last state other than California, Texas and Florida to have three teams ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll? (Answer at the end of the column.)

    Quick hitters

  • Scott Howard and former Georgia quarterback Eric Zeier will be the radio broadcast team for the Bulldogs' road games this season. Legendary announcer Larry Munson is only calling play-by-play on home games this season.

  • An leg injury suffered last week by Tennessee freshman defensive end Ben Martin isn't as serious as originally feared. Martin will be out 2-4 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery.

  • Miami redshirt receiver George Robinson has decided to leave the team.

  • Defensive tackle James Vess, one of nine returning starters on TCU's defense, has been suspended from the team for violating university rules.

  • Due to a lack of evidence, five charges against Penn State safety Anthony Scirrotto have been dropped, including two felony charges. Scirotto still faces criminal trespass and simple assault charges stemming from a brawl in April.

  • Minnesota coach Tim Brewster has announced that early next week he'll name either junior Tony Mortensen or redshirt freshman Adam Weber the starting quarterback for the Gophers' season-opener against Bowling Green.

  • Michigan's Alex Mitchell, a projected starter at right guard, was injured in Monday's practice and will miss the season-opener against Appalachian State. On the positive side, running back/return man Carlos Brown - who has been out with a broken hand - could return to practice next week. Also, previously suspended tight end Carson Butler has been reinstated after being acquitted on assault charges.

  • Senior Chauncey Washington will likely emerge as Southern California's starting tailback, at least for the time being. C.J. Gable, who finished last season as the starter, has been slowed by a sore groin.

  • Clemson's Thomas Austin has solidified his starting spot at right guard, according to coach Tommy Bowden.

  • Virginia Tech's Ike Whitaker, once a four-star quarterback prospect, is moving to wide receiver full time. Freshman Tyrod Taylor will back up starting quarterback Sean Glennon.

  • True freshman Anthony Castonzo has been working with the first team for about a week and appears destined to be in the starting lineup for Boston College's season-opening game against Wake Forest. If he does indeed start, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Castonzo will be BC's first true freshman to start in the offensive line since Paul Zukauskas in 1997.

  • Top-rated junior college prospect Woodny Turenne has secured a starting job at right cornerback in Louisville's secondary. Louisville had to replace three starters from last year's defensive backfield, including All-Big East cornerback William Gay.

  • Texas A&M running back Jorvorskie Lane claims he has lost 15 pounds and reduced his weight to 268. He hopes that will help increase his rushing totals. He said he's aiming for 1,000 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.

  • Nebraska running backCody Glenn returned to practice after missing more than a week with a sore hamstring.

  • Texas junior receiver Quan Cosby, who had 45 receptions in 2006, said he has no intentions of leaving school early even though he's 26 years old. He signed a pro baseball contract out of high school, but enrolled at Texas in 2005.

  • Redshirt freshman Sam Bradford has been named Oklahoma's starting quarterback. The Sooners also announced they do not plan to have true freshman quarterback Keith Nichol sit out a redshirt year.

    Trivia answer

    The final AP poll of 2003 included three teams from Ohio. Ohio State ranked fourth, Miami University was 10th and Bowling Green was 23rd.

    Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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