We're halfway home on the countdown as we come to #6, D.J. Woods' spectacular catch across the middle during the Louisville game. Rolling through these moments it's easy to see why D.J. gets a lot of attention. His abilities as a football player absolutely demand it. Woods is a rare talent with a plethora of skills that make him a pain in the neck to cover. At this point in his career he is a senior with a lot of young receivers around him. Don't get me wrong, they're extremely talented and for the wide receiver position you don't necessarily have to have a ton experience to excel. But, having someone show you the ropes is always a good thing and if D.J. Woods wants to show them how to properly snare a football over the middle in tight coverage, he should pop in this highlight.
I remember saying at the time of the catch that D.J. Woods could drop every pass thrown to him or fumble every ball he did grab and he'd still get major props in my book. Why? It's because the dude makes phenomenal catches like this one:
DJ Woods 2nd touchdown vs Louisville (via 513official4)
I mentioned earlier how Woods is a great wide receiver for a combination of things and his speed is one of them. But he's also a clean route runner, has great vision to find open space, and will go for any catch thrown to him. For this entry's purpose, I can't help but focus on his toughness. Few wide receivers are gutsy enough to go across the middle when he knows a safety or linebacker on the opposite side of the field is lining up to clobber him. And it's not like Woods that big- 6'1" 180 lbs MAYBE. You see the kind of over-the-middle plays out of him that you would see out of tight ends like Kellen Winslow and Tony Gonzalez or rare wide receivers like the 6'3" 225 lbs giant Andre Johnson. But Woods doesn't have the luxury of size and makes those plays anyways.
It also takes a kind of mentality to catch the ball over the middle and Woods clearly has that confidence. Sometimes that gets him trouble like his first touchdown of this game where his smack talk in the end zone resulted in an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty. But when it boils down to it, I'd rather have the player that believes in himself rather than one that shys away from hits and jokes around with the other team. Woods bleeds red and black and will do whatever it takes to help the Bearcats win including sacrificing his body in the process.
On the other end, Zach Collaros made a terrific throw to get the ball to Woods. Louisville came out in a Cover-2 with both safeties backing off the line of scrimmage and nearly every linebacker and defensive back in zone. A great pass to exploit this is the post route which splits the safeties down the middle. That's what Woods ran. But what makes the throw so hard is that when Woods breaks off the line of scrimmage, defensive back Darius Ashley broke off and followed Woods. With a tight window to aim for between the two safeties, over the top of Ashley, while at the same time leading Woods with the football, Collaros fit the ball perfectly in for the catch. He also took a lot of heat last year especially for his interceptions, but it's throws like this that show why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the Big East.
With two weeks of August in the books, we've got a meer two weeks until the opening game against Austin Peay. Look for #5 in the countdown soon as we look at the run that never was.
[#8 D.J. Woods' Touchdown vs Oklahoma]
[#9 UC's drubbing of Xavier/Dayton]