Sunday, September 30, 2012
On Robert Woods' lack of production
By Pedro Moura
LOS ANGELES -- Robert Woods' lack of early-season production is a concern for the USC Trojans' coaching staff, but not a gigantic one.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin and receivers coach Tee Martin are confident their star junior receiver will rebound in the coming weeks, when teams adjust more to the Trojans' burgeoning run game and assign fewer defenders to Woods and Marqise Lee.
"He's still getting open," Martin said of Woods on Sunday after USC's afternoon practice. "He's still running great routes. We just gotta give him the ball a little bit more and see what happens."
Woods has only 25 catches for 203 yards and four touchdowns through four games in 2012. He had more than twice as many receiving yards at this point last season.
Kiffin took some of the blame for that on Sunday, saying it would help if he called for more plays to throw him the ball early in the game. And he cited Woods' absence from a day of practice each week as another factor in his early-season numbers.
He also said, as he has often in recent weeks, that opposing defenses are pulling out all kinds of schemes to limit Woods and Lee.
They've worked well so far, especially on Woods.
"Teams have done a good job of taking him away," Kiffin said. "Even though his numbers aren't as big as they have been before, teams are still game-planning for those two receivers."
For his part, Woods has consistently deflected questions about the lack of production.
"It's really just this team right here," he said Sunday when asked how he hoped to improve on his numbers. "This team has a great mindset and we're just trying to push forward and keep winning games. That's our whole goal this year: Win games.
"And we're doing that."
Martin, a college quarterback at Tennessee, said he understood the desire for skill-position players to get or keep the ball in their hands. But he doesn't sense anything abnormal in that department from Woods.
"He's a competitor," Martin said. "You want to have fun, you want to get the ball. That's part of being a receiver and having a receiver mentality.
"And there's some frustration that comes when you don't get it."