it's no secret that the secondary for Syracuse University football has been inconsistent this season. It got off to a slow start but showed promise in its best effort against Rutgers only to take a step back by allowing over 300 yards to a sub-par Tulane squad.
Safety Shamarko Thomas returned for the Tulane game, and he made some plays right away. But the secondary was still missing an unsung performer, Orlando Fisher. Fisher has been out since after the season-opening win over Wake Forest with a lower body injury.
Fisher will line up as the dime back against No. 11 West Virginia on Friday, in what is considered one of the most important games for the program over the last handful of seasons. The availability of Fisher and the entire secondary against a speedy team that likes to spread the defense out could prove critical.
Fisher's impact doesn't show up in the box score, but defensive coordinator Scott Shafer stressed the importance of his return after Tuesday's practice.
"When you get into a dime package, it's nice to have six true defensive backs on the field," Shafer said. "It gives you the availability to run different things because they have played more techniques than a linebacker has further away from the ball."
Shafer compared Fisher to former SU safety Max Suter, who was considered an "under-the-radar" player who proved important to the defensive scheme.
"(He's) an unsung hero-type kid," Shafer said of Fisher. "Kind of a lunch pail type of football player that does a lot of things that go unnoticed (like) underneath drops (and) pressures that don't necessarily turn him loose but gives another guy an opportunity.
And he brings a good skill-set as a DB."
Time will tell if the two weeks of preparation will pay off for the Orange, but Shafer was quick to point out that Geno Smith and company also had an extra week to prepare for Friday.