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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 8, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Tuesday practice notes — Holt says no direspect intended toward USC

The Huskies are off the field following their Tuesday practice, held on the East practice field with the renovation of Husky Stadium now underway.

No significant news. Safety James Sample was in red. Otherwise, everyone other than those already out for the year appeared available. WR James Johnson, who sat out the Oregon game with an ankle injury, did some work in the team session. DE Talia Crichton, slowed last week with a knee injury, also practiced.

Tuesday also marks the day when defensive coordinator Nick Holt speaks to the media, and as might be expected, one topic was his comment of Saturday night that “I’d rather play USC than Oregon.” Holt said it in the context of preparing to play the two teams, but not everyone may have taken it that way — pictures surfaced of the quote taped up in Heritage Hall, USC’s athletic center.

Holt, who spent six years as an assistant at USC (2001-03, 2006-08) said Tuesday he meant no disrepect to the Trojans.

Asked if he was surprised at the attention the comment got, he said: “You know what? I guess nothing surprises me anymore. I’m sure they’re looking at it like I was trying to disrespect them, which I was not. I’m the last guy that’s going to disrespect the University of Southern California – the institution, the players and their coaches. I’m the last guy to do that. Obviously, I think it was taken in the wrong context. I think what I was trying to do was just say how difficult and good Oregon is to prepare for. So take it as it is. I didn’t mean anything by it. They know they have good players, we know they have really, really good players and they do a nice job in their schemes, and we’ve just got to go down there and try to play our best football.”

Asked what he thought of the comment being used as motivation, he said: “I don’t know. Obviously, they made a big deal about it. I’m sorry that it got down there. It is what it is now. … They heard it, and they probably thought I was being disrespectful, which I wasn’t.”

Holt also looked back a bit on the Oregon game and ahead to USC:

— Of the Oregon game, he said: “We did some good things. Had we tackled better … There’s a lot of times when we had the little guy, and it’s obviously a credit to their running backs. I thought there were times we were really good, and then the two third downs in the third quarter – obviously the one (third-and-six from the 26 on Oregon’s first series when Kenjon Barner ran for 8) with the quick toss, and we blitzed into it and kind of missed some tackles, didn’t tackle as aggressively as we needed to. And then the other third down (the third-and-9 on the next series when David Paulson caught a pass for 34), that hurt us. I think we had some momentum, and we just didn’t really play as well as we needed to on that down, we weren’t as focused as we needed to be. As soon as the quarterback threw the ball, we should’ve been a little tighter, and we should’ve re-routed the guy a little bit better. Besides those two plays and some missed tackles, it was solid. Look at the numbers compared to everybody else, quite honestly.”

— Asked if a similar effort would get the job done at USC, he said: “No, we’ve got to tackle better. We’ve got to tackle better. We’ve got to eliminate some of the big plays – they didn’t have that many huge plays, but this week we can’t let these guys bust a 60-, 70-yarder or something like that. We’ve got to make them work for everything, and hopefully get some turnovers.”

— Asked if his history with USC helps he said: “They’ve got a lot of different stuff now. Every year is some new stuff, and they’ll have some new stuff for us. So that’s kind of a wash.”

— Asked his overall thoughts on USC, he said: “They catch the ball, they run good routes, they block well in the run game. And then on top of that their offensive line is really coming together. They have a couple of fantastic players in Matt Kalil, who is a first-round draft pick. Their center is a fantastic football player, Khaled Holmes. Kevin Graf (right tackle) is getting better every day and then the two other guys are just really getting a lot better, and then the run game is really good. Just a different set of problems in a new week against a fantastic offensive football team, so we’ve got our work cut out.”

— On the challenges of Robert Woods: “He is really fast, runs good routes and he catches the ball and he has a quarterback that puts it there, and they take shots at you. I mean, they go for it, with a lot of long balls, a lot of good play-action, double moves. I mean they test you. So it’s another complicated game as far as those issues.”

— On if the pass rush is the key to it: “There’s a lot of things that are key. We’ve got to stay on top of the deep ball because we are going to see a bunch of them. Pass rush is always key but they do a nice job protecting the quarterback with their protection schemes that it’s hard to get after them and they have a lot of different types of protection. They get him out on the edge and sprint out sometimes so it’s going to be a great challenge.”

— On if USC is much different than last year: “I think they are doing a lot more offensively. They have a lot of different plays, a lot of fly sweeps, a lot of screens and a lot of those type of plays. They have expanded a lot more and they are executing really nicely.”

— On flustering Matt Barkley: “He’s seen it all. I don’t know if you are going to fluster Matt. He’s pretty poised back there and been a starter for a long time and he knows our defense pretty well. He sees pretty similar looks at their practice, so I don’t know if we are going to fool him. I just hope we don’t beat ourselves in letting big plays happen, make them have to grind it out.”

You can see some of what Holt said in the video below:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1265372387001″][/do]

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