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USC aims to match Stanford's muscle

Stanford is one of the most physical teams in college football, boasting a deep and stout offensive line and an aggressive defensive front.

So USC players are eager to prove they can go toe to toe with the fifth-ranked Cardinal in Saturday's Pac-12 Conference game at the Coliseum.

"It's going to be a big man's game," said quarterback Cody Kessler, a phrase echoed by several teammates after the Trojans' victory over California last week.

USC has lost to Stanford four years in a row. But Trojans defensive lineman George Uko was respectfully matter-of-fact about the Cardinal in the immediate aftermath of the Cal game.

"They're not a high-powered offense," Uko said of a Stanford team that has averaged 31.9 points and 388.2 yards a game. "They're not a team that comes in and puts up 40, 50, 60 points on the board.

"What they do is physically try and demolish their opponents. ... Just BCS national championship defense is what they try to do."

Last year at Stanford Stadium, the Cardinal rushed for 202 yards — and limited USC to 26 — in a 21-14 victory.

Stanford has averaged 205 yards rushing a game this season. In last week's victory over Oregon, running back Tyler Gaffney rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown in 45 carries. The Cardinal finished with 274 yards rushing.

"They're going to come in and try and run the ball," Uko said. "But we've got a new defense this year, so it's different."

Williams practices

Defensive end Leonard Williams participated in Monday's brief workout, which was conducted without helmets or pads.

Williams sat out against Cal because of a shoulder injury, but interim Coach Ed Orgeron has said he expected Williams would play against Stanford.

Tailback Silas Redd (knee) did not attend practice.

Tailback Tre Madden (hamstring) and tight end Randall Telfer (knee) performed light drills with team athletic trainers.

Coaches and players are not made available to the media on Mondays during regular game weeks.

Vainuku contributes

Sophomore fullback Soma Vainuku has been a force on special teams, blocking punts and making key tackles on kickoff coverage.

"He sets the tone," Orgeron said Sunday of the 6-foot, 260-pound sophomore. "People have been changing their blocking schemes in order to attack Soma on the kickoffs, he's such a force."

Vainuku also has caught five passes, including one for 15 yards against Cal.

Agholor honored

Nelson Agholor, who returned two punts for a touchdowns against California, was selected Pac-12 special teams player of the week.

Agholor, a sophomore, scored on returns of 75 and 93 yards. He tied the school record for touchdowns scored on punt returns that was set by Mike Garrett against Cal in 1965.

Agholor also caught four passes for 35 yards and finished with 215 all-purpose yards.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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