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Stanford vs. USC: Slowing Down Robert Woods Crucial To Cardinal Success

Despite the fact that the Stanford Cardinal has laid 10 consecutive teams to rest by a 25 point margin or greater mean nothing to them this week as they prepare for a difficult test down south against the USC Trojans. Head coach David Shaw and his squad are well aware of the pitfalls before them with the Trojans, starting with wide receiver Robert Woods.

"For a guy like that you don't say you're going to shut him out," Shaw said. "That's the one things you don't say. What you do say is you want to limit him. You want to make sure when he catches the ball you have guys around him, you gang tackle him. You keep him from making the big play and the momentum-changing play."

Even though Woods has been limited in practice this week with an ankle problem, the Cardinal are still getting prepared like he's ready to go off like he did last year against Stanford (12 catches, 224 yards, three TD's). And believe you me, those who were around for it last season haven't forgot:

"Let's be real, it's out there. He torched us last year," said safety Michael Thomas. "That did motivate us to play better. We want to think we're not the type of secondary to give up big yards and allows any type of receiver to come in and destroy us like that. It's motivation this week."

What worries coach Shaw the most is the fact that the USC ground game has been ramping up the past few weeks, giving the Cardinal even that much more to prepare for this week. After averaging 33 rush attempts for 142.5 yards through their first four games, USC has bumped that up to 38 carries for 155 yards since, including last week's win over Notre Dame where they set season highs in rush attempts (44) and rushing yards (219). 

They've been more balanced. That's what makes them dangerous."     

Lot's of things to think about if you're David Shaw this week. 

For more on the Cardinal, head over to Rule of Tree to get in on the action.