Staying at USC has paid off. It's Martinez's second year starting and his coaches say they love the great progress he has made.
"John's just a great kid," said offensive line coach James Cregg. "He's a hard worker. He's tough; he's physical; he just shows up and works hard. The one thing John will give you is 100 percent every day. We are really pleased with his development as a player."
The Trojans lost starting center Khaled Holmes and used freshman Cyrus Hobbi against Stanford. Injuries have forced some shuffling and there have been questions about their chemistry, but Martinez said the line is feeling confident and healthy heading into Salt Lake City.
Martinez said he's talked to his teammates about how physical and tough Utah's defense is — starting with senior tackle Star Lotulelei — whom he's only watched or seen off the field.
"I'm definitely looking forward to playing the whole D-line," said Martinez, who admits he feels like he has a little to prove in his hometown return. "We definitely have high expectations going into this game. They're physical; they run downhill on guys; they blitz … It's going to be a big man's game for us and Utah."
Martinez said he doesn't shy away from the challenge that Utah's defensive line will offer.
"I love competition," he said. "That's the reason I came to USC."
Martinez said the Trojans are hungry to reach a top-level bowl game after being banned from postseason play for two years.
"We're going to be so hungry for any challenge," he said. "We've just been waiting our turn."
Utes on the air
Utah (2-2, 0-1) vs. USC (3-1, 1-1)
Thursday, 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN Radio: 700 AM
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