Robert Woods is leading the nation right now in receptions with 55, 12 ahead of his closest competitor. That’s an impressive number in its own right. But another area of his development that is noticeable is his “yards after catch” total.
Woods averaged 12.2 yards per catch as a freshman, but so far in his sophomore year that average has jumped to 13.6 yards per catch, even as he has become the focal point for opposing defenses. Former USC receiver John Jackson says this is a critical element of Woods’ development that is helping to make him an all-around receiver.
“Last year when Robert caught the ball he was satisfied with the catch, the first down, whatever happened,” Jackson said. “Now he is looking to turn every catch into a score. A lot of receivers think the tough part of their job is the catch and doing the things leading up to that, like getting off the line of scrimmage, running the route and finding the open hole. Woods is now understanding that he’s a good runner after he makes the catch, and it’s going to take one, two or three guys to bring him down.”
Jackson also says Woods' effort on the field right now is allowing other players to succeed in the offense and making things easier for Lane Kiffin as a playcaller.
“The thing I love right now is how hard he plays the game," Jackson said. "It’s not just when he’s getting the ball, it’s when he’s blocking or when he runs a route hard, even though it’s going to another receiver. Now that teams spend so much attention to stopping him, Lane can use him as a decoy to allow other receivers to get open. Lane likes to call it ‘The Woods Factor’. A lot of receivers will take plays off if the ball isn’t coming their way; Robert doesn’t do that.”