Sports

Stanford pounded USC's defensive line to set up finesse play

 

Stanford approaches every game with the same mentality: Impose our will.

Some call it intellectual brutality, others smash-mouth football.

For David Shaw, the Director of Football, it's a winning formula.

The seventh-ranked Cardinal wore down USC, 27-10, on Saturday night doing what it does best: pounding the rock with junior All-America running back Christian McCaffrey behind a physical offensive line while limiting mistakes.

Saturday's win marked the first time in the 95-year history of the series that Stanford has won three consecutive games against the Trojans by double-digits. The Cardinal has beaten the Trojans three times in the same calendar year, a first for the program.

Since assuming the head coaching job in 2011, Shaw is 56-14 overall and 37-9 versus the Pac-12.

"We set our standard based on us," said Shaw. "It doesn't matter that it's USC, UCLA or Notre Dame, whoever it is. Our standards are high. When we play well, we expect to win."

Stanford ran the ball 47 times and attempted just 15 passes. Shaw is a patient man and hoped to wear down a talented but thin USC defensive front, and that's what he did.

Stanford controlled the ball for more than nine minutes in the fourth quarter and 23 of its 24 plays were runs.

"That's the way we train," Shaw said. "That's the way we think. Our program is built to be a really good fourth-quarter team."

Not that Shaw's offense lacks home run hitters. He likes to pick his spots.

For many, the turning point against USC was Michael Rector's 56-yard end-around in the third quarter, giving Stanford a 27-10 advantage. After a steady dose of runs, Shaw and his coaching staff knew USC was vulnerable.

"You run certain plays to set up other plays," he said. "We ran power, counter, power, power, power, counter, power, power, and then upstairs in the box we just watched to see if they're chasing from the back side. We thought they were chasing."

McCaffrey has now eclipsed 200 all-purpose yards in 13 of his past 14 games. He collected 260 hard-earned yards against the Trojans, and averaged 5.5 rushing yards on 30 carries.

In the last three meetings with USC, McCaffrey has accumulated 970 all-purpose yards.

Stanford starts a two-game road trip next Saturday night against UCLA in Pasadena. The Bruins (2-1) beat BYU in Provo, Utah, on Saturday night, 17-14. UCLA opened the season with 31-24 overtime loss at Texas A&M and defeated UNLV, 42-21.

Last year against UCLA at Stanford Stadium, McCaffrey rushed for a school-record 243 yards and four touchdowns to spark the Cardinal to a 56-35 victory.

Extra Points … Defensive back Alijah Holder made a team-high seven tackles against USC and collected one of four tackles for losses … Five-time Olympic water polo star Tony Azevedo served as honorary captain … Azevedo, Steve Stenstrom (football), Casey Jacobsen (basketball), Pat Cornett (golf), Amber Liu (tennis) Shelly Ripple (swimming), Toby Stevenson (track and field) and Alicia Craig (cross country/track and field) were inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday and honored during the game.

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