Aside from Nickell Robey, USC secondary coach Marvin Sanders hasn't been able to count on his second cornerback this season.
That fact is troubling him.
"Two plays good, one play bad," Sanders said this week. "I'm looking for some consistency."
Anthony Brown started the year as Sanders' top choice across from Robey. Then Torin Harris got his chance upon returning from injury in Week 2, and Brian Baucham and Kevon Seymour also had opportunities as nickel backs.
No one immediately impressed, although coach Lane Kiffin has expressed a lot of hope in Harris of late. But that's just it: All he has as of now is hope, not confidence.
"There’s no secret," Kiffin said this week. "We haven’t played well there all year."
Kiffin included Harris in that group, admitting that he played the fourth-year corner in too many snaps during his return to that field. He also included sophomore Anthony Brown, who has been demoted to the fourth slot in practice.
"We’ve just got to be more consistent," Kiffin said. "You can’t miss the tackles and in press coverage, we can’t let them get off the line of scrimmage so quick."
Both Stanford and Cal missed a few big opportunities over the last two weeks against USC's other corners, so Kiffin pointed out that things "could've been worse."
But he's disappointed that poor play from one or two positions on the field has negated a lot of positive performances from the nine or 10 other defenders.
"It's definitely been changing our game," Kiffin said. "We are doing a lot of things really well on defense."
There might be a solution, though: Seymour. The coaches have liked his recent play in practice; Sanders said he's dramatically improved over the last month.
"As we go throughout the season, we’ll look to expand his role at some point," Kiffin said of Seymour on Tuesday. "I don’t know when that’s going to be but it’s good to have a young corner like that."
Sanders described the focus of his current job as "building back up" Harris and Seymour.
It's clear that the Trojans coaches believe those two are capable of adequately filling out their top three -- it's just not clear how long it'll take them to get to that point.