"It doesn't bother me," Johnson said. "Coach Holtz has a lot on his mind. He's seen a lot of players come and go. He probably called Charlie Ward something else too. Maybe I remind him of Deacon Jones." . . .
On Saturday at South Bend, though, Johnson hopes to remind Holtz of the best wide receiver he has ever seen. . . .
That encompasses pass catching and blocking. . . .
"I'm looking forward to blocking more than anything else," Johnson said. "If everybody blocks well and we get the running attack established, it will open up things for the passing game." . . .
Johnson, whose prolific and spectacular pass catching makes him a Heisman Trophy candidate, has been called the best blocker at his position in the nation by Mike Sanford, who coaches Trojan wide receivers. . . .
"You have to want to block," Johnson said. "Everybody wants to touch the ball. I'd like to touch it 60 times a game. But I can't. So I try to step it up a notch and block." . . .
On Saturday, the Trojans will be trying to end a 12-game winless streak against Notre Dame. . . .
The last time USC beat the Irish was in 1982, the last year of John Robinson's first stint as coach. . . .
"Yeah, but I've never lost to Notre Dame," Johnson said. . . .
The Trojans and Irish tied, 17-17, last year at the Coliseum when Johnson was a junior right out of West L.A. College and caught six passes for 114 yards. . . .
"Notre Dame is our main topic right now," said Johnson. "J.R. [Robinson] really wants to win this one. We'll beat them. We're definitely a national championship-caliber team, but we have to prove it." . . .
Johnson could have been an NFL first-round draft choice after catching 66 passes for 1,362 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but chose to return for his senior year. . . .
He is delighted with the results. . . .
"We're 6-0, we're rolling, we've got the national championship on our minds, I'm satisfied with the way I've been playing, and I'm going to graduate on time," said Johnson, who is on schedule to earn a degree in history in May. . . .
He has caught 52 passes for 725 yards and four touchdowns despite what could have been the distractions of an NCAA investigation into a loan he allegedly received from a long-time friend who is now a sports agent. . . .
"When you know you didn't do anything wrong, you don't worry about it," Johnson said. . . .
News item: Fred Claire says Orel Hershiser's departure opened the door for the arrival and emergence of Hideo Nomo and Ismael Valdes. Reaction: What would have been wrong with a starting rotation of Ramon Martinez, Nomo, Valdes, Hershiser and Tom Candiotti? . . .
Edgar Martinez's long fly out to center field that ended Game 5 served notice that he is ready to regain his form when the Seattle-Cleveland series resumes tonight at the Kingdome. . . .
Atlanta has a built-in excuse if it begins slowly in the World Series--too much rest after sweeping the National League championship series. . . .
Who do you like in the Yakult Swallows-Orix Bluewave series that opens Saturday in Japan? . . .
The winter baseball meetings will be Dec. 1-5 in L.A. . . .
Odyle, whose best finish in a two-race career is a second-place finish in the Norfolk Stakes, will try to become the first maiden to win a Breeders' Cup race when he runs in the Juvenile on Oct. 28. . . .
Twenty-two years after becoming the first jockey to ride six winners in a day at the Oak Tree meeting, Steve Valdez is scoring an occasional victory at the Fresno District Fair. . . .
Jackie McCoy, manager and trainer of numerous world champions and one of the most genuine personalties in boxing, will be honored during ceremonies at the Forum program Monday night that features World Boxing Organization super-lightweight champion Sammy Fuentes against Juan Soberanes in a nontitle bout. . . .
Bargain of the week: Tickets are $10 a session for the Ralphs Senior Classic this week at the Wilshire Country Club, where 25 of the top 30 money winners on the senior tour will play. . . .
Do those who call the Dallas Cowboys the 'Boys and the Houston Astros the 'Stros think the teams' real nicknames are too long? . . .
Thumbs down on both the Associated Press and USA Today/CNN polls for ranking Michigan (5-1) over Northwestern (5-1) despite the Wildcats' victory over the Wolverines at Ann Arbor.