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Linebacker Coach Holt Talks to Idaho

Times Staff Writer

Nick Holt, USC’s linebacker coach, interviewed with Idaho officials Tuesday morning in Salt Lake City but returned to put his charges through their paces in the afternoon as the Trojans prepared for Saturday’s regular-season finale against Oregon State.

Holt, 41, is a finalist to succeed the fired Tom Cable at Idaho, where Holt was an assistant for eight years before moving on to Louisville and then USC.

Utah assistant Brent Myers and Texas Christian assistant Kasey Dunn interviewed after Holt.

“I felt comfortable [during the interview]. I knew the people,” said Holt, who was defensive coordinator at Idaho in 1994-97. “But right now I’m thinking about Oregon State, getting the linebackers ready ... and winning the conference championship outright.”

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Holt has kept USC’s linebacker corps effective despite numerous lingering and season-ending injuries sustained by the unit.

Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who transferred to USC from Maine, said Trojan players want the best for Holt. But they do not want to see him go.

“It would be pretty devastating,” said Tatupu, the Trojans’ leading tackler. “Look at me. I was supposed to be maybe a weak link. Look at Collin Ashton and Dallas Sartz. We’re doing what we’re doing because of Coach Holt.”

Idaho is reportedly hoping to name a coach as soon as today but might wait until Friday.

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Asked whether Holt would remain with the Trojans through their bowl game if he were hired at Idaho, Coach Pete Carroll said, “That’s really not an issue right now. He’s going to be here on Saturday, and we’ll figure it out later.”

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Linebacker Matt Grootegoed, who is trying to overcome a high ankle sprain originally sustained Oct. 11 against Stanford, practiced for the first time in nearly a month but was held out of competitive team drills.... Linebacker Melvin Simmons, who has a bruised fibula, practiced and will probably share playing time with Ashton against Oregon State.... Fullback Brandon Hancock, who has a left knee sprain, tested his mobility, but Carroll said he did not expect him to be ready for Oregon State.... With John Drake out for the season because of a broken ankle, redshirt freshman Fred Matua will start at right guard. Carroll said redshirt junior Travis Watkins would back up Matua.... Receiver William Buchanon, who has back problems, practiced for the first time in several weeks and participated in all drills.... Running back Chauncey Washington said doctors told him his ankle injury was “90% healed” and that he would be able to practice during bowl preparations.


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