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Trojans Embrace Challenge of Facing Stanford's Offense

USC will be ready for the Stanford Cardinal attack.

The Trojans focused much of practice on preparing to face the Stanford Cardinal offense, one that can not only pound the rock behind a stable of powerful tailbacks, but can also air it out deep with a collection of fast wide receivers.

Facing what head coach Steve Sarkisian called one of the most athletic Stanford teams in recent memory, dating back to the Doug Baldwin years, USC's defense used JuJu Smith and George Farmer as weapons to prepare their secondary for Saturday's meeting.

Stanford Week - Wednesday Practice Notes

  • Cody Kessler was back on the practice field, taking most of the reps with the first-team offense. Sark said he will be "ready to go" for the game.
  • Leonard Williams sat out from practice and was gingerly walking around Howard Jones Field with a left ankle brace. Both he and Sark said he was feeling better and expect him to suit up for the game.
  • Jordan Simmons and Khaliel Rodgers were back on the practice field, but both were a tad bit away from game shape, especially in terms of overall conditioning.
  • Damien Mama had ice on his right knee for most of practice and Sark called him a game-time decision.
  • "We gotta go to our scout teams and give our guys the right looks based on all the guys we have on film," Sarkisian said of preparing for Stanford's offense.
  • Sarkisian said the speed Adoree' Jackson possesses matches up well defensively with Stanford, but Sark also wants him to make an impact on both offense and special teams as well.
  • Sarkisian has been really impressed with the defensive performance of cornerback Kevon Seymour, who added another interception on Wednesday during a strong week of practice. Seymour picked off Cody Kessler this time when a receiver didn't turn his head soon enough on a crossing route.

    "Very active, great first game," Steve Sarkisian said. "He's been very active in practice this week...He's playing confident but he's being disciplined, and that's what you want to see from a corner."
  • In this unique matchup, where Stanford can run offensive sets with seven lineman, or go three deep with WR, coach Sarkisian loves the luxury that Su'a Cravens provides.
  • Justin Wilcox warned that the running ability of Kevin Hogan could be a big difference maker in the Cardinal's ability to convert on third down.
    "He's a tough guy, they use him in quarterback runs on third-and-five. He's made big plays for them in big games."
  • Su'a Cravens is still adjusting to his new role, "the dollar," saying that he will do whatever it takes to win for this team against a Stanford squad that puts a fire under his stomach.
  • Sarkisian wants USC to focus more on special teams during Thursday's practice before the Trojans head up to Palo Alto for one of the biggest games this year.