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USC FYI: Washington's Nick Holt returns to his old stopping grounds

Huskies defensive coordinator, a former Trojans assistant, returns to the Coliseum on Saturday.

September 30, 2010|By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times

Nick Holt, Washington's defensive coordinator, returns to the Coliseum on Saturday aiming for a repeat of last season's upset victory over USC.

Holt served two stints at USC before leaving after the 2008 season to join Steve Sarkisian in Seattle. The pair combined to outcoach Pete Carroll and his staff during last season's 16-13 victory at Husky Stadium.

After the game, USC offensive players said the Huskies were calling out the Trojans' plays before the ball was snapped.

"I don't really remember that," Holt, chuckling, said during a telephone interview Wednesday. "I remember being down 10-0 in the first quarter and not stopping them.

"We were screwing things up, and then we got it fixed and it became a game."

Washington took advantage of three USC turnovers, rallying for the most significant victory in Sarkisian's short tenure.

The Huskies won with a fourth-quarter drive and Erik Folk's third field goal of the game.

"Every win is a good win, but this is kind of surreal right now," Holt said as he was mobbed by fans after the game. "But it was a hell of a football game. That's how it's going to be in the series from now on."

Washington comes to Los Angeles after an open date. The Huskies are trying to rebound from an embarrassing 56-21 loss to Nebraska.

Holt expects USC Coach Lane Kiffin to mix in plays the Trojans have not yet shown.

Holt coached with Kiffin at USC, making this matchup slightly different from last season's with former offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who was part of the Trojans staff for only one season.

"Jeremy was new, so we didn't know what to expect," Holt said. "We're a little more familiar with Lane."

Improving line

The offensive line is seeking to build on the confidence it gained while mostly dominating Washington State.

The Trojans gave up no sacks and rushed for 285 yards.

Kiffin said it was the best game of the season for the offensive line: tackles Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith, guards Butch Lewis and Khaled Holmes and center Kristofer O'Dowd.

"We've picked it up a lot," Smith said. "We just had a couple things we needed to clean up and that's what we've done."

Quick hits

Defensive end Wes Horton, who was kicked in the back against Washington State, was limited in practice, Kiffin said…. Cornerback Shareece Wright said he has been nursing an ankle sprain but would be fine for Saturday's game…. Asked if he had considered using multipurpose threat Dillon Baxter as a holder for extra points, Kiffin said, "We're just trying to get Dillon to go to class, line up right and not fumble. So the last thing we're going to let him do is let him do all our field- goal plays. There's a lot of audibles that go with that, that's why [quarterback] Mitch [Mustain] is there."

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter.com/latimesklein

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