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Secondary Ready To Salvage USC's Season Saturday

Coach Orgeron says the team is still feeling residual effects from the Notre Dame loss and nothing picks up the pieces better than shutdown play from its defense.

Harry How

While injuries to continue to decimate the depth chart at nearly every major position on the offensive roster, members of the Trojans heralded secondary are taking it upon themselves to make things happen this weekend against Utah.

"We just try to come out and play together," said Kevon Seymour, the only member of the secondary to start every game. "I just try to give it my all and encourage my DB's each and every day."

The injury bug has also hit the secondary, leaving Dion Bailey in a constant state of uncertainty, Devian Shelton is out for the rest of the year and Anthony Brown continues to work his way back from a knee injury suffered earlier this season.

Josh Shaw has provided help along the way by rotating back and forth to his starting position from last season, while Torin Harris has done what he can for the secondary in brief moments of inspired play, but to be honest, he has been thrashed a fair share of times as well this season.

After allowing 166 yards passing against Tommy Rees through two-plus quarters, USC's defense did not even allow a single pass completion, albeit aided by quarterback change, in the entire second half to which Notre Dame did not move the chains during the fourth quarter.

This improvement does come just the right time, following two of the worst games of the season allowing 714 combined passing yards through the air against Arizona and Arizona State. Thanks to the strong play from Shaw and Demetrius Wright at the safety position, the roster has garnered enough flexibility to experiment with the roster hopefully for the best.

The coaching staff is hoping that moving Shaw back down to corner will help shut down the large Utah wide receiving corps, that will give the secondary all they can ask for and then some in one-on-one situations.

Working under the tutelage of Dennis Erickson, Travis Wilson has attempted 35 passes or less in each of Utah's four victories this season but the Trojans also understand that if the Utes fall behind, they will have plenty of chances to make plays on the ball in the backend.

"They gonna try to air and test us (DB's in particular) and we are ready for that challenge," Kevon Seymour said, in preparation of facing the 45th-ranked passing attack in the nation this weekend.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, as the old adage goes, and this week Shaw will rotate once again back to cornerback, clearing space for freshman Leon McQuay to play in the nickel role alongside Bailey. Numbers may never lie in the depth department but the secondary is confident in the bodies they put on the field.

"Were just trying to get the best guys out there," coach Clancy Pendergast said. "There is a lot of new learning and communication especially with a lot of new moving parts, and I only anticipate and expect us to get better."

Heading into a crucial weekend for Pac-12 South buoyancy, the Trojans will rely upon one of the breakout performers from Fall Camp to lock down half the field against the upset-minded Utah Utes.

"He's grown up a lot since last spring," Pendergast said, describing Kevon Seymour's improved play. "He has gotten better just from a work habits standpoint and I think he has benefited from all the game time and reps this season."

The Trojans will certainly have their hands full battling the injury bug on the offensive side of the ball, and the defense recognizes that they must play like they did for the first four weeks if they want to leave the Coliseum with a much-needed victory for its fading postseason chances.