USC defense knows what to expect vs. Stanford

LOS ANGELES — A powerful running attack will take its toll on the opposition in the late stages of a football game. At least, that’s the popular opinion.

If you ask USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron, it all depends.

“(The defense) may be giving the toll,” Orgeron said.

Orgeron certainly hopes his defense can be the aggressor when they line up on Saturday against No. 4 Stanford. Orgeron says Saturday’s matchup will be a “line-of-scrimmage game” and whoever wins up front will win the game.

USC’s front seven can’t get stuck on its heels; they have to attack against Stanford’s run.

Stanford’s power running game is no secret. Tyler Gaffney’s 45 carries in the win over Oregon last week was further confirmation the Cardinal be ready to run and ready to do a lot of it come Saturday.

USC must prepare for a tough game that’s almost certain to be the most physical contest it will play in all season.

Facing a tough, physical running attack is nothing different than what they encounter in practice daily, the team says. They know what’s coming.

“(Stanford is) tough and aggressive,” linebacker Hayes Pullard said. “They tell you what they’re going to run before they even run it.”

Jumbo sets. Extra offensive lineman. Power-running football.

The Trojans not only know what Stanford is going to do, they also know how they’re going to feel physically, literally.

“The past two times I played against Stanford I felt beat up a lot after the game because I was in a lot of the action,” safety Dion Bailey said. “If you’re out there making plays, you’re going to feel like a truck hit you (after the game).”
The Trojans have lost the last four in a row to the Cardinal, including being stunned in Palo Alto a season ago when they were the No. 2 team in the nation. Stanford has averaged 226.5 yards on the ground during their four-game win streak over the Trojans.

In the win in Palo Alto last season, they grinded out 202 yards on the ground against USC.

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams is expected to return to the lineup after missing last week’s game at Cal with a shoulder injury. He should give the Trojans a boost up front when it comes to trying to control the line of scrimmage.

“It’s a challenge,” Orgeron said about facing Stanford’s running attack. “It’s what football’s about. It’s what USC’s football’s about. It’s what this school was built on — toughness, physical football. It’s what we’re about. It’s going to be fun.”