Shaw's two picks have teammates talking

LOS ANGELES -- Linebacker Dion Bailey knew the statistic and cited it quickly while walking out of CenturyLink Field following USC's' 10-point win over Washington last weekend.

"Two picks for Josh Shaw," Bailey said, grinning wide. "He's creeping up."

Bailey has four interceptions this season, leading the USC team. Shaw, the little-used safety who made his cornerback debut against the Huskies, is now tied with safety Jawanza Starling for second with two.

Bailey was joking, obviously, but most jokes spawn from some truth. Shaw could indeed be a real threat to his mark if he keeps playing at the same level.

As a team, USC already has 11 picks in six games this season. The Trojans had only nine all of last season, so there has been marked improvement in that category.

Shaw is part of that, bringing instant, proven playmaking ability to the secondary. A redshirt sophomore transfer from Florida, he was a big-time recruit out of nearby Palmdale as a prep. USC was after him then and again last winter when he announced he was transferring away from the Southeast to be closer to home.

His hardship waiver was granted late in the spring, but his initial practice appearance was delayed because of injury. He finally started participating in fall camp, practicing as a corner before switching back to safety for the next two months.

When starting corner Torin Harris continued to struggle this season, USC coach Lane Kiffin and his staff decided to give Shaw some practice time at the spot. He made his game debut there the same week, when Harris went out because of an apparent head injury.

His play -- and reaction to being thrown into the mix -- impressed the Trojans' staff.

"He didn't get flustered," Kiffin said. "A lot of that goes to his experience. We went with him over some other kids based off of his experience, playing at Florida and playing in big games, even though he was playing at safety at the time.

"I think he did a good job."

Shaw is continuing to take repetitions at corner in practice this week.

Kiffin is refusing to name a specific starter across from Nickell Robey for the Colorado game, but the smart money says Shaw will get another opportunity.

He said Wednesday he believes he can start the rest of the year at the position.

Shaw's also an intelligent player. Coaches say he makes real adjustments to his game on a week-to-week basis, and he backed that up with his comments Wednesday.

"Watching the film, I noticed more mistakes I made during the game that I didn't really notice while I was playing," Shaw said when asked for an assessment of his play. "There's a lot of little things that I'm looking forward to cleaning up."

We'll see if he gets the opportunity.