A few posts ago, I suggested that Storm Woods should be moved to receiver. He has good hands and moves very well in space. But lets face it, that will never happen. But at the very least, he should be targeted more in the passing game more from this point forward.
The numbers back up my idea. This season, Woods has 45 catches for 419 yards and a touchdown. More impressively, he’s averaging 9.3 yards per reception.
What’s amazing (and also a sad indication of how much the running game has struggled) is that Woods has more receiving yards this season than rushing yards (370). While he has five rushing TDs, he’s only averaging 3.3 yards a cary. And get this: his longest carry of the season is 11 yards, his longest catch went for 48 yards.
With Terron Ward’s huge game in the Civil War showing that he might be a better pure runner than Woods, why not take advantage of the fact that Woods is a good receiver and blocker and target him more in the passing game? The more weapons, the better, right?
Case in point: against the Ducks, early in the game, Woods had one receiving play that stood out to me and got me thinking more and more about his role in the passing game. He caught a short pass, broke a tackle, and nearly scored. It wasn’t a highlight-reel play or anything, but it was an impressive sequence.
And I firmly believe that with his size, speed, and blocking skills, Woods would be a great option in the Beavers’ passing attack. Could you imagine him laying a block downfield for Ward downfield, or taking a short pass to the house?
The bigger picture is this: putting players in position to succeed is crucial. Not only does it help teams get the most out of their talent, but it ensures that good athletes are utilized, even if they don’t pan out at their recruited position or fail to crack the starting lineup.
Too often, athletes who could’ve made an impact have languished on the bench at OSU because they were pigeoned-holed at a certain position, didn’t make the two-deep, or simply weren’t used more. When recruiting top talent regularly to OSU is a challenge, that can’t happen. The Beavers need all the playmakers they can get.
Some recent examples of players who didn’t get a chance to shine, or at least until later in their careers: Jeremy Weldon, Cam Collins, and more recently, John Braun. I know there’s more, but I am drawing a blank.
But the best example by far is Gabe Miller. He is one of OSU’s biggest recruiting coups ever — a 4-star athlete, who is homegrown. Unfortunately, I don’t think Miller was put in a position to make an impact until too late. He basically enjoyed one standout season for the Beavers.
It’s hard to keep straight (and remember) all of Miller’s position changes, so please forgive me. I think he was recruited as a linebacker, then moved to tight end, played a season there, got hurt, and then was moved to defensive end. He ended up being a great DE, enough to be drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. So that clearly speaks to his ability and talent. But what if he could’ve been a four-year stud on the DL for the Beavers?
So if Ward ends up being the starting running back next season, it would be a mistake to let Woods waste away on the bench and get carries here and there. Get him involved in the passing game. He can make an impact.
The bottom line is this: the Beavers need to get the most out of their existing talent to make up for for the fact that they don’t routinely pull in 4- and 5-star recruits, and all the other supposed disadvantages the program faces.
The best and easiest way to do this? Recognize early on what players can and can’t do well, and then put them in positions to make plays, while minimizing their weaknesses. For example, it was obvious Ryan McCants wasn’t going to be the answer at running back early on in his career, but could’ve he made a difference at another position, say linebacker?
What are your thoughts? Who are other OSU players that were under-used or could’ve made an impact at another position?