Buoyed by a 14-catch, 255-yard game in Saturday's 48-41 over Arizona, USC receiver Robert Woods has had a tremendous start to the 2011 season -- so tremendous, in fact, he is starting to put himself in position to test some all-time NCAA receiving records.
Through five games, Woods is on pace to catch 132 balls for 1,793 yards and 14 touchdowns, which, in the first two categories, would not be far off the record-setting pace. And that would be in USC's 12 games. If the Trojans were allowed to play in a potential conference championship and bowl game, Woods would have a legitimate chance to break both of those records.
The all-time receptions record is 155, set in 2009 by Bowling Green's Freddie Barnes, with Houston's Manny Hazard coming in second with 142 in 1989, back in the day of Andre Ware.
For receiving yards, the FBS record is held by Nevada's Trevor Insley, who caught 134 passes for 2,060 yards in 1999, with Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards (1,996 yards) and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree (1,962) coming in second and third.
Woods won't get to those numbers. But he could come fairly close, and he stands to break Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon's all-time record for sophomores if he keeps up his current pace. And, maybe more important, he has a great chance of shattering USC's all-time single-season records. To pass Keyshawn Johnson's marks of 102 catches and 1,434 yards, all he'd have to do the rest of the season is average 6.7 catches and 98 yards -- a cinch when considering he has put up averages of 11 catches and 149 yards so far.
He's also probably going to lead the nation in both of those categories. At this point in the season, only one FBS player, Western Michigan's Jordan White, is within 100 yards of him in total receiving, and only one player, again White, is within a dozen catches.
Barring some unexpected stint of ineffectiveness, the main thing that could keep Woods from challenging and/or setting these records is an injury. The schedule is favorable too as USC won't go against any top-25 defenses in the season's final seven games and will face three defenses in the bottom half of the NCAA in yards allowed.
Other potential factors that could prevent Woods from reaching those marks are Marqise Lee and how much development he'll make this season, taking away potential catches, and the health of quarterback Matt Barkley. Any sort of missed time from Barkley would probably set Woods back considerably.
There's not much else, though. The win over the Wildcats featured Woods' best game of the season, but he really has been solid or better in each of the Trojans' five games. His worst performance was an eight-catch, 82-yard, one-touchdown game against Syracuse in Week 3.
On Saturday, after Woods led the Trojans' offense in a running-over of his squad, Arizona coach Mike Stoops called him "terrific," "great," "reliable" and "dynamic." Wildcats corner Shaquille Richardson, a teammate of Woods' growing up in Carson, simply said that he "tore our zone up."
Asked to describe the quiet and understated yet enormously talented sophomore receiver, most of Woods' teammates just laugh and call him "special."
He appears that way, surely. And he could prove it in the record books over the next two months.