Olivero: Hope you’re ready Locker, Orange defense will test you

first_img Published on September 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm Here comes the haymaker. Jake Locker better be ready. The Washington offense better be ready. All of Seattle better be ready. Come Saturday, it will be best vs. best. The Syracuse defense truly believes that. SU’s defense feels — no, it knows — that it can stand toe-to-toe with Locker and Co. It’s a blasphemous belief spewing from the SU defense, if you were to ask the majority of the nation. The SU defense will provide a true test to Locker and Washington? And they might get the better of him? Really? Yes. The numbers, but more importantly, the proven mentality, fail to lie.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text That’s because, when the whistle blows, the SU defense has one intention. Sure, it may be malicious, it may be crass, but this is the game of football. And this is the way the Orange defense plays the game of football in 2010. It did all summer. No room for flowers and rainbows. No matter if you are Patrick Nicely or Jake Locker. The Syracuse defense is not nice. Far from it. ‘Contain him and hit him in his mouth,’ safety Shamarko Thomas said. ‘First play, hit him in his mouth.’ Jake, here they all come. And this just might be the best defense you will play in 2010. The Nebraska Blackshirts and the BYU defense that defeated you last week, included. Here comes the ‘swag.’ And for the first time in a long time, the SU defense has ‘swag.’ A whole lot of it. It will be validated Saturday, whether Syracuse wins or loses. This defense is for real. This ‘swag’ is for real. It’s a word and a mentality being thrown around all the way from Doug Marrone and Scott Shafer at the top to Thomas and defensive end Chandler Jones in the flanks. ‘I’m not going to say it is cockiness. It’s swagger,’ Thomas said. ‘Marrone and Shafer always talk about our ‘swag.’ … We don’t fear anybody, we will play whoever is in front of us and we are going to grind.’ Jake, here comes the grind. And here comes the camera. The Camera Club, that is. It’s an actual entity which stems from the game to the game tape where SU defensive coordinator Scott Shafer mandates that, depending on the situation, seven or 11 of SU’s defenders are within the focus of the camera by the end of the play. The Camera Club is a mentality. It goes hand in hand with that Marrone and Shafer professed ‘swag.’ ‘Swagger is huge, as far as the defense,’ Jones said. ‘Coach Shafer has asked for all 11 guys to be in The Camera Club. … We make a tackle to intimidate the offense.’ Here comes the intimidation. Intimidation is a word that surfaces with this defense. It is about changing minds. Changing the opposition’s minds. And ultimately, changing America’s mind. Even though it should be changed already. This is an SU team that returns 10 starters from a unit that finished first in the Big East in rush defense last year. This is a unit that is ready to make another jump after leaping from triple digits nationally in rush defense, tackles for loss and sacks to the top 15 in all of those categories in 2009. But numbers lead to speculation. And though pregame talk can lead to speculation as well, there is one huge difference between speculation from numbers to speculation from players. The verbiage of the members of this defense comes directly from their mouths, and their minds, just days prior to the actual game. ‘Why can’t we be the No. 1 defense in the country?’ Thomas said. ‘We watched BYU on defense. I think we are better than them on defense. We fly to the ball better, we cover better.’ Jake, here come the droves. Here comes the Camera. Here comes the ‘swag.’ Sure, Thomas and company believe Locker is a ‘smart’ quarterback, the best they have faced since arriving at Syracuse. The respect is there. But the respect isn’t there for this SU defense, yet. Come Saturday, it finally will be. Here it comes: the change in the minds. And the punch in the mouth. The SU defense doesn’t even have to think about it. It took Thomas all of six seconds on Wednesday to settle on a point total for the Huskies: 14. There it is, Jake. Now, here they come. Better brace. Said Thomas: ‘We are going to hit him: sacks, smacks, knock him out of bounds. ‘Change his mind.’ Comments Tony Olivero is an assistant sports editor at The Daily Orange, where his column appears occasionally. He can be reached at [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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