USC’s familiar faces on sideline won’t distract Washington players, coach says

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian will lead the Trojans against his former team, Washington, when they resume play on Thursday.

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian will lead the Trojans against his former team, Washington, when they resume play on Thursday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

When Washington visits the Coliseum for a game against USC on Oct. 8, Huskies players will face Steve Sarkisian and several former Washington assistants for the first time.

Sarkisian left Washington in December 2013 to take over USC’s football program, and his staff includes five former Huskies assistants: Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, defensive backs coach Keith Heyward, running backs coach Johnny Nansen and tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo.

Washington Coach Chris Petersen said that during game preparation the focus is “always just on ourselves,” and that message would not change.

“I don’t play the game, Coach Sark doesn’t play the game,” Petersen said this week.

Washington is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in Pac-12 Conference play. The Huskies are coming off a 30-24 loss to California in which they committed five turnovers.

USC returns to practice Saturday after taking Thursday and Friday off.

Catching on


Junior receiver Isaac Whitney is playing his way into more opportunities for the Trojans.

Whitney stepped in after Darreus Rogers suffered a hamstring injury early in last week’s victory at Arizona State. He caught two passes, including one for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Whitney, who transferred to USC from Riverside City College, has seven receptions, two for touchdowns. He is averaging 15.4 yards per catch.

“I feel like I’m in the groove,” he said. “I can still touch up technique.”

Whitney, 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds, “has been unbelievable,” said Sarkisian, who also complimented receiver De’Quan Hampton, a transfer from Long Beach City College.

“With the JC guys it’s always interesting,” Sarkisian said, “because you think they’re more mature and they should develop faster. But the reality of it is, this is still their first time being on a Division I football team. So it takes some time. But they’re both getting better.”

Secondary option

Isaiah Langley planned to redshirt this season so he could add strength and weight before joining the cornerback rotation in 2016.

But a knee injury suffered by senior Kevon Seymour thrust Langley into service on special teams and as a back-up in the secondary.

“I had to grow up fast,” Langley said.

Langley played against Stanford and contributed more against Arizona State.

“I have a role on this team,” he said, “and I’m very excited about that.”

The 6-foot Langley said he went from 163 pounds when he arrived at USC to “a solid 180.”

After struggling during training camp, he is playing with confidence.

Sophomore Adoree’ Jackson and freshman Iman Marshall started at cornerback the last two games.

Seymour practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Twitter: @latimesklein