After Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas suffered a brutal hit against Pittsburgh. It was quite amazing to see him on the field against Rutgers. Now that he's fully healthy again, he is ready to start the second half of the year.
Thomas believes the issues this team has had are on the players, and coach Marrone is shouldering the blame for them.
"He's (Doug Marrone) going to take all the blame man," the senior safety explained. "You get all this on the athletes with people saying we're not good. The offense isn't good, the defense is not good, special teams, whatever. But it's not about him, man. He don't step on the field, he coaches us. We have to go out there and do the work.
"Like I said, coaches are just coaches, man. I feel like Marrone's a great guy and it's not on him. It's on us to perform on Saturdays and Fridays. I respect him and what he says to the press. But it's really on us."
The game on Friday is a big game for Syracuse. Not just because of the return of Paul Pasqualoni, but because of what it means to the Orange season.
"It's not a sense of urgency, we just got to win," Thomas said. "That's the bottom line. We just have to come out there and win. We have to go out there and perform better than we did last week."
One of the issues the defense has had this year is failing to force turnovers. Shamarko says the team has worked on that in practice. In fact, he noticed something about Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer.
"He stares down his receivers," Thomas noted. "He's got two good receivers. Not a receiver, but a tight-end he uses as a receiver. Number 94 and number 8. He stares them down and it creates great opportunities for DBs to look into it.
"That's what we got practice for. Going to practice and work on the turnovers. Rip the ball out where we can do that against the running backs. Just do the little things and it'll help with the big things.
"Yeah, definitely (have worked on it in the past). It just ain't fall our way yet. But I hope it's coming soon."
Thomas says he is healthy and will not be limited as he was against Rutgers. Expect to see an aggressive defense Friday night that will look to force turnovers and give the Syracuse offense a short field.