Khaled Holmes selected to start at right guard in season opener at Hawaii
The final piece of USC’s starting lineup fell into place Tuesday when Coach Lane Kiffin announced that Khaled Holmes would start at right guard Thursday against Hawaii.
Kiffin made the announcement after the Trojans practiced on campus before departing for Honolulu.
Holmes had been the projected starter, but his status for the opener was uncertain because of neck soreness that had forced him to sit out practices last week and limited him Monday.
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Holmes, a third-year sophomore, is the brother of former USC tight end Alex Holmes.
Holmes, who played in three games last season, will be part of an offensive line that includes senior center Kristofer O’Dowd, junior right tackle Tyron Smith, senior left guard Butch Lewis and sophomore left tackle Matt Kalil.
“We’ll definitely gel,” Holmes said this week. “We’ve got a good bond and we’re all pretty close up front.”
Greg Salas, a receiver from Chino High, is a featured player in Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense.
Salas, a 6-2, 210-pound senior, caught 106 passes last season. His average of 122.3 yards receiving per game ranked fourth nationally and his 1,590 total yards receiving is second on Hawaii’s single-season list.
Though his size is more typical of an outside receiver, Salas’ career took off after he was moved to the slot. Last season, he set a school record with 16 receptions against New Mexico State and eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark eight times.
He has caught a pass in 27 consecutive games.
“He’s a big guy, but he’s quick,” Hawaii Coach Greg McMackin said. “He’s just got incredible hands and work ethic.”
USC will practice today, but Kiffin continues to put his stamp on the program with his plan to bypass the stadium walk-through that was a staple the day before road games under former coach Pete Carroll.
“It’s a little bit different approach; It’s a little bit tighter,” Kiffin said of handling the run-up to games. “That doesn’t mean it’s better by any means. The last approach won 34 straight games and seven straight conference championships.
“But you have to be yourself.”
Defensive end Nick Perry’s availability for the opener will be a game-time decision, Kiffin said. Perry is recovering from a high ankle sprain. Last season as a redshirt freshman, Perry had nine tackles for losses, including eight sacks. Wes Horton and Armond Armstead will probably be the starting ends.
Times staff writer Bill Plaschke contributed to this report from Los Angeles.