Wiley watching and learning

Three weeks ago, USC Trojans cornerback Isiah Wiley was the No. 5 corner on a team that never uses more than three on any given play.

Now, it looks as if he'll be the No. 2 corner against Notre Dame on Saturday, having jumped up over the fallen-out-of-favor Tony Burnett and the injured Anthony Brown and Torin Harris to put himself into position to start in South Bend.

It'll be a challenge -- the Fighting Irish have two talented receivers in Michael Floyd and Theo Riddick, and Wiley will probably be asked to spend a considerable amount of time on Floyd because of the seven-inch height difference between he and Nickell Robey.

But he says he's ready. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Wiley, a junior-college transfer who had essentially only played on special teams before last week's game against California, has watched and re-watched the game tape from last week and is convinced he knows what to do against the Irish.

Or what not to do, really: hesitate. He had two interception opportunities against the Bears but missed out on both of them because he failed to react quickly enough.

"What I've seen from the first game is that the speed is a lot faster than junior-college football," Wiley said. "Basically, I've gotta capitalize on all my interception opportunities and focus on the mental aspects of the game and be ready to make plays when they're presented to me."

He's trying to be ready, of course. But, truth be told, USC doesn't really have that many options. Harris looks like a longshot to play Saturday and Burnett's the only other potential starter, so, unless Wiley struggles mightily in practice this week, he's going to be the guy across from Robey.

"He may have to be," Kiffin said Sunday when asked about Wiley's level of readiness to start. "He did play well. He did do some good things. Obviously it was brand new for him, being out there, he had only a couple snaps out there all season long, but he may have to be ready."

He didn't play poorly against Cal, starting out in nickel looks and then moving into the No. 2 spot after Brown got hurt. The Bears accumulated nearly 300 yards through the air, and quite a few of those were Wiley's responsibility, but he didn't get totally burned on any plays, and that's an accomplishment considering it was what essentially amounted to his major-college debut.

But there are further steps the 21-year-old Wiley -- who fancies himself a playmaker -- wants to take against the Irish.

"I felt I could've trusted my abilities better," Wiley said. "At some points in the game I knew what I was supposed to do, but I hesitated instead of attacking, which I'm used to doing.

"If I just attack and stop thinking so much, I'll be OK.