Posted by Jerry Hinnen
USC may or may not be without their most consistent offensive playmaker when they face Oregon in Autzen Stadium this Saturday.
Trojan wideout Robert Woods, the nation's ninth-leading receiver, did not practice Thursday and is a gametime decision against the Ducks. Lane Kiffin said he would decide whether or not Woods would play after seeing him in pre-game warmups.
“I’m going to have to see speed, that he can go, that he can get in and out of breaks and be able to play at a high level for us,” Kiffin said.
Woods is nursing both a serious ankle injury and a sore shoulder. But for his part, Woods said he would be ready to play come Saturday.
"Some days it feels good, some days it feels bad," Woods said of the ankle. "The shoulder is aggravated as well ... [Kiffin] has the final word but I feel good enough, ready to go. He’s the one calling the personnel but you know I’m definitely in his ear trying to get on the field."
Kiffin said Wednesday, though, that Woods is "always going to say" he could play, and that he would not jeopardize his player's long-term health if he wasn't fit to perform. Kiffin also added that as of Wednesday, Woods "wasn't getting better."
So will Woods play, or not? On the one hand, he hasn't practiced, wasn't his usual self last week vs. Washington, and Kiffin has come by his reputation as a players' coach honestly; if Woods really isn't ready, we don't expect Kiffin to push it.
But Kiffin is also not above a little pregame gamesmanship, particularly considering that taking down the No. 4 Ducks on the road would be the biggest win of Kiffin's Trojan tenue to-date. If Woods is secretly heatlhy enough to play Saturday, Kiffin gains nothing from telling Chip Kelly that--and frankly, Woods is good enough and has been around long enough that letting him sit out practice to get that much closer to 100 percent makes more sense than forcing him through drills.
So if we had to wager, we'd put money on the Trojan's best playmaker not having to sit out the Trojans' biggest game of the year. But a this stage, we can't say we'd be shocked if he sat, either.