USC cornerback Nickell Robey can count on one hand how many times he's been targeted in the Trojans' four games this season.
Because he's proven to be significantly better than USC's other cornerbacks, Robey has not been challenged by opposing offenses.
"It's kinda crazy," Robey said after the Trojans' Monday practice. "I actually try to play off the receivers, just to try to challenge them and make it more challenging for myself.
"And I still don't get very much action at all."
Robey, a junior, has two pass breakups and 16 tackles on the year, with most of the tackles coming because of his aggressive style against the run. Last season, he had 63 tackles and 11 breakups in 12 games, meaning both numbers are noticeably off pace.
"I think he’s played great," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said of Robey. "They just don’t throw at him . . . They take something away or don’t give you the opportunity, it’s hard to get numbers.
"We need to play better at the other spot and force them to have to throw the ball, because right now nobody is throwing at him."
Said Robey of that possibility: "If that could happen, that'd be great. That'd be awesome."
Robey says he has learned to re-convince himself before every play that the offense will throw at him, even though it rarely happens. But he still gets occasionally discouraged and vents to secondary coach Marvin Sanders on the sideline during games.
"'Coach, I don't feel like I'm in the game,'" he tells Sanders. "'I feel like I'm excluded out of everything.' And he tells me to be patient and I am patient for the most part. Whenever there is an opportunity or a small error, I gotta make sure I capitalize on it."