Strong safety Shamarko Thomas was in action last season when the Orange took on the Trojans. He shared the field with USC's wide receivers, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, and left with a loss. But there is a calm clarity from Thomas visual before the game.
When talking about how to capitalize this time around, Thomas said, "Just do our assignment." "It's really nothing big. Just play our base defense. Just go after ‘em. Go after 'em like they're another offense. Like we're outside practicing. Just go after them and just watch their speed ‘cause they are fast." Thomas has also been known for his speed, but there is another area of his game that he is honing in on today. "Technique. That's a big thing this week, ‘cause they're explosive. #2 (Robert Woods) and #9 (Marqise Lee), they're very explosive, and they run their routes crisp.
"Just technique really," Thomas went on. "Not going to think about coming up, hitting them hard. Just getting them tackled down, ‘cause they can make you miss. I was watching on film, they can make you miss, so just doing my assignment and just being a leader on the defense."
Thomas will also have the help from his teammates, including free safety Durell Eskridge, of whom Thomas spoke about before the match-up with USC.
"He can be a great playmaker," Thomas shared. "First game, had nine tackles. That's tremendous for a freshman, just his first game, so he can come out there and make plays when he's out there…when we get a little winded. He [can] come out there and make plays."
Also in the secondary, the cornerbacks will have to make plays on the ball against Woods, Lee, and the rest of the receiving core to capitalize on the defense. Thomas spoke highly of the corners going into the game against the Trojans.
"I'm confident in my corners," Thomas expressed. "They've got a different swagger this year. Definitely, I don't believe they're gonna get beat deep. I put it on their backs. I'm gonna be reading the run. They're gonna be reading the pass and locking it down, so I know they're gonna do well."
Syracuse takes on USC in New York's College Classic today at MetLife Stadium, beginning at 3:30pm Eastern.