Sophomore CB Seymour is making strides

LOS ANGELES -- After an up and down start to his sophomore campaign, Kevon Seymour has begun to settle in as a key performer at cornerback for the Trojans. Possessing quick feet and strong cover skills in a 6-foot, 175-pound body, the rising level of his play has helped contribute to the overall improved production of the USC secondary as of late.

But as Seymour readily admits, he's anything but a finished product, and each game, as well as each practice, is still filled with learning moments.

Case in point: Early in the second quarter of USC's clash with Oregon State last Friday night, Seymour stumbled in coverage, allowing Beavers' wide receiver Brandin Cooks to haul in a 27-yard touchdown pass.

But to Seymour's credit, and thanks to that trademark short memory that all high-level cornerbacks gradually acquire, he didn't allow the lapse to keep him down.

"You have to be able to move on to the next play," said Seymour, who has started six games for the Trojans in 2013, including the team's last five games in a row. "No matter if it's a good play, or a bad play, you have to be able to keep moving on. If not, it's going to kill you. Once it had happened, it was over. There was nothing that I could do. I couldn't dwell on that the whole game, so I just moved on. It's hard, but it's something that DBs have to learn to do."

Matched up frequently with Cooks -- who came into the game averaging nation-best marks of 10.6 catches and 157 receiving yards per game -- Seymour bounced back from his early miscue to help limit the talented wide out to just six receptions for 88 yards.

The highlight of Seymour's night, however, came late in the fourth quarter. On a pass delivered by Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion, Seymour came up with an interception on a ball that was tipped in the air by fellow Trojans defensive back Leon McQuay III.

It was the first interception for Seymour since his senior year in high school at Pasadena (Calif.) Muir, and it put the final nail in the coffin in USC's 31-14 victory over Oregon State.

"I was thinking, 'I know Leon McQuay is going to pick this off, but if he doesn't, I'm going to take it for sure,' " said Seymour, who also has compiled 27 tackles and four pass break-ups this fall. "So, he tipped it, and I just watched it come into my hands, and then I just tried to make something happen. That felt really good."

As a team, the Trojans limited the vaunted Oregon State passing attack to just 277 yards, while picking off the highly efficient Mannion three times, equaling the number that he'd thrown through the Beavers' previous eight games.

Following the move of Josh Shaw from safety to the cornerback spot opposite Seymour before USC's game against Utah back on Oct. 26, the Trojans secondary has had two consecutive standout performances now, accumulating a total of six interceptions as a unit in those games.

With California's potent spread offense now on tap for USC this Saturday, however, the defensive backs certainly can't ease up now, particularly Seymour, who felt he had plenty to correct this week in practice, despite finishing his most recent outing on a high note.

"It's definitely something I can build off of, but I still could have played much better ... just technique-wise and in terms of getting set before the play," said Seymour of his performance against Oregon State. "That's what I need to work on coming into this game."

And against California, Seymour figures to be tested early and often by quarterback Jared Goff and a Golden Bears offense that ranks No. 8 in the FBS with 351.1 passing yards per game. But having already made tremendous strides this season individually, and with the entire defensive backfield starting to come into its own as a cohesive unit, Seymour believes they'll be up to the task.

"We're very confident," Seymour said. "Every week is always a challenge for all of us. But them passing more is better for us. It gives us an opportunity to make more plays. I love that."