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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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USC expects to meet an improved Utah defense

The Utes have maintained their defensive effort against Arizona State wasn't indicative of the team's talent or capabilities this year.

Apparently they aren't the only ones with that thought.

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USC coach Lane Kiffin talked up Utah's defense during Tuesday's Pac-12 teleconference.

"They are really good up front," he said. "They have a physical front, two brothers (Joe and Dave) and Star (Lotulelei) inside so we are going to have our hands full. ASU means nothing, they will be fired up and the crowd will be into it. We have to play really well."

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham sounded confident the Utes have fixed their defensive issues.

"ASU did a number on us in the throw game, especially with the play action pass," he said. "They really did damage. We shored that up and have to get better. Historically our pass defense has been solid year to year and hopefully we can get back on track."

One matchup that is in question is Lotulelei vs. USC center Khaled Holmes, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior who is believed to have re-injured his right ankle against Cal, according to the Orange County Register.

USC does not release injury reports.

Holmes missed the Stanford game and his absence was notable, Kiffin later said.

Fifth-year senior Abe Markowitz will start in Holmes' place if he isn't available.

- Lya Wodraska

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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