Seeing Through the Woods

Robert Woods delves into a variety of topics: how coaching has helped him get better, the differences among the young receivers, the difference in coaching styles between Martin and Gilmore, and more.

The time off for USC star receiver Robert Woods has hardly been fun. After inflammation in his surgically repaired ankle caused him to sit out spring football, Woods has succumbed to twiddling his thumbs and exercising his eyes.

He doesn't need those eyes to catch passes, though. No, he could do that with them closed. Instead, he uses them to take in particular details from his teammates' routes and ironically, it's helping him evolve as a player.

"Yeah I'm seeing how they will do it and how, in my head, I would do it differently. So I just look at theirs and try to just compare how I would do it," Woods said. "If I see them do something and it works I try to apply it to myself."

Woods' quarterback Matt Barkley is similarly situated. Barkley is taking limited reps so that the other quarterbacks can fight to be his backup. He, too believes coaching helps your improvement.

"Teaching is the best way to learn in my opinion because you do have to regurgitate all of your knowledge and it makes you question," Barkley said.

In Woods three years with the Trojans, Woods has had three coaches in John Morton, Ted Gilmore and most recently Tee Martin. While most of the young receivers have only been here for the last two, Woods' said Gilmore and Martin's coaching styles are so different, the players will undoubtedly become better players.

"Coach Gilmore's aspects was more blocking and top of the route, getting out of it. So now Coach [Martin]'s aspect is being more of a physical receiver, using your hands more and using your body in your route running," Woods explained. "So we're taking some of Coach Gilmore's stuff, taking some of Coach Martin's stuff and adding it to our overall game to help us."

Vying for that third receiver spot behind the obvious choices of Woods and Marqise Lee is a trio of talented pass catchers in De'Von Flournoy, George Farmer and Victor Blackwell.

All three are talented, but Woods said no one guy is like the other.

"George is goofy. But Victor is the entertainer. He makes jokes, dancing, whatever he says really. De'Von is kind of quiet," Woods said.

"I feel like they've all been playing well, fighting for that third spot but I feel like this is just one phase of it because in the summer you have two new receivers coming in and they're going to have to do it all again."

Those two receivers are Carson (Calif.) High's Darreus Rogers and Berkeley (Fla.) Preparatory's Nelson Agholor. Regardless of how the incoming players do, Woods wants to ensure that the ones that are here now succeed.

"Coach Tee can't get to all the receivers; he'll talk to them here or there and he'll go onto the next. I'm not a coach so I just talk to them however, just on the little stuff. I was telling Marqise and De'Von if they bring their leg tighter they'll be able to push off stronger and faster."

It's hard to imagine a player like Lee getting much faster. But those minor suggestions by Woods coupled with his participation in track this offseason, have definitely made their mark.

"I think track has helped him with his speed and everything. Like I said the talent is there for everybody, he's just working on his details and his route running. He's going to always make the plays so I feel like it's just the little stuff that's going to make him better."

And maybe all that stuff: the details to players, the variety of position coaches, the recuperation time, will actually help Woods get better himself.

Except for his boredom. That will only likely get worse.

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