USC to face a well-balanced Stanford offense

Despite having quarterback Andrew Luck and an offensive line that has given up only two sacks, the Cardinal still relies on the run; it ranks 17th nationally. The Trojans lack such balance.

October 24, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor heads toward the end zone against Washington for one of his six rushing touchdowns this season.
Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor heads toward the end zone against… (Nhat V. Meyer / McClatchy-Tribune )

Call it Stanford's new deal.

It's apparently not much different from the old one.

When David Shaw succeeded Jim Harbaugh as Stanford's coach, some thought the Cardinal might lose its edge, and perhaps its winning ways.

It was Harbaugh who famously engaged Pete Carroll in their 2009 "What's your deal?" postgame exchange at the Coliseum after Stanford walloped the Trojans, 55-21. And it was Harbaugh, now coach of the San Francisco 49ers, who set off Detroit Lions Coach Jim Schwartz two weeks ago after the 49ers handed the Lions their first defeat.

USC Coach Lane Kiffin sees no difference in the unbeaten Cardinal under Shaw, who brings Stanford to the Coliseum on Saturday.

"That's what's surprising," Kiffin said Monday. "Everybody thought that they were going to lose the Jim effect and they've not shown that at all."

Despite having quarterback Andrew Luck and an offensive line that has given up only two sacks, the fewest in major-college football, the Cardinal still relies on the run. Stanford has averaged 219.4 yards rushing a game, ranking 17th nationally.

While Luck has passed for 20 touchdowns, the Cardinal has 20 rushing touchdowns — running back Stepfan Taylor has six of them.

USC lacks similar balance.

Matt Barkley has passed for 19 touchdowns, but the Trojans have run for only five. Only six teams — Louisville, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Idaho, Alabama Birmingham and Kent State — have rushed for fewer touchdowns.

The Trojans rank 65th nationally in rushing, averaging 145.7 yards.

However, USC was buoyed by the performance of its running backs and offensive line against Notre Dame.

Senior Marc Tyler looked sharp early and Curtis McNeal ran for a career-best 118 yards behind a line that did not give up a sack and has allowed only four this season.

"To establish the running game like that, to have a balanced offense, is really good going into this part of our schedule," center Khaled Holmes said.

Sorry situation

Apologies were flying across social networks and the phone lines Monday as USC linebacker Chris Galippo and Kiffin tried to ease any hurt feelings over comments made after the Trojans' 31-17 victory over Notre Dame.

Galippo and other Trojans said Notre Dame "quit" when the Fighting Irish did not use timeouts in the final minutes of their defeat.

"If I offended anyone with my postgame comments Saturday, I do apologize," Galippo tweeted. "I have great respect for their players and their program. It was a great game by both sides. Time to focus on Stanford!!!"

Kiffin said he called Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly to apologize.

"On behalf of our football program, I apologize for Chris Galippo's statements after the game. I've addressed this with Chris and he is remorseful," Kiffin said in a statement.

But Barkley did not back away from his teammates' comments.

"I would agree with that," Barkley said in an interview with 710 ESPN. "I was shocked that they didn't use the timeouts because we got on the field with … about seven minutes left, and I thought they were planning on stopping us and saving their timeouts for the end when they had the ball. …

"It seemed from our sideline and our perspective that they did give up. It seemed uncharacteristic of Notre Dame. I wouldn't have wanted to have been on that sideline."

Quick hits

Barkley and Luck are among 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award, presented annually to college football's top quarterback. … The Trojans resume practice Tuesday.


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