SU Secondary Steps Up Again

When the typical Syracuse fan thinks of the secondary, names like Shamarko Thomas, Phillip Thomas and Kevyn Scott tend to come up. But in the big win over West Virginia on Friday, several other players stepped up in the biggest moments as well.

Four heaves into the end zone against man coverage; four incompletions. That's what West Virginia star quarterback Geno Smith saw while targeting receivers against Syracuse cornerback Keon Lyn on Friday. Still playing with a cast, though smaller and smaller by the week and off while sitting down with CuseNation.com, Lyn has been perhaps the team's best man-to-man cover-guy in 2011.

"I work real hard in man-to-man everyday," Lyn said after practice on Tuesday. "I just want to be the best in the country."

The familiarity the sophomore saw on the field may have helped. He played with both Smith and WVU receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney at Miramar High School in South Florida.

"I was telling Geno (Smith) to throw my way the whole game, so he kind of filled some of my needs," Lyn added. "He kept trying me, but they got the loss…it was great, the receivers were great."

"I was just trying to help my teammates get this win in each situation that they gave me."

Wilkes Redeems Early Effort

Jeremi Wilkes, who played well in relief of Shamarko Thomas earlier in the season, again saw extensive action against the Mountaineers this time because of the situation. With WVU spreading the Orange out, Wilkes played more of a deep safety role while Thomas stayed underneath.

The results were mixed early on, with Wilkes late a few times in helping out the cornerbacks over-the-top. He knows he needs to improve in the area, but admits that the transition from the cornerback position hasn't been as smooth as planned.

"I need to work on reading my keys," Wilkes said. "Getting back sometimes (with) over-the-top help. Sometimes I still use my corner mentality."

"It's definitely different than playing corner, so I just have to stay focused throughout the game."

But Wilkes came up big in a big moment in the second quarter. With the Mountaineers on the move and in the red zone with the threat to trim the lead to just five points heading into the half, he picked off Smith at the goal line. A WVU score may have permanently shifted the momentum considering how they stormed down the field on the first possession of the third quarter to trim the lead to five. Had they scored when Wilkes intervened, they would have taken the lead.

"I had a feeling he was going to come my way," Wilkes said. "So I just made sure that I read everything that I needed to do pre-snap and it just so happened that he threw the ball and I broke on it."

On to Louisville

Though the win was arguably the program's biggest in the last handful of seasons, both Lyn and Wilkes know the page must be turned with an opportune Louisville (3-4) team looming.

Another mobile quarterback will challenge the secondary considering he has the ability to extend plays which affords receivers more time to get open.

"He's a great quarterback," Lyn said. "Teddy Bridgewater; he don't play like a freshman. He's bringing a lot to the table so it's something new."

"They rotate a lot of their receivers."

Bridgewater is a 6-foot-3, 195-pund athlete from Miami (FL) who will make plays with his feet more so than Smith does for West Virginia.

"(We) definitely have got to stay disciplined with a quarterback who likes to run," Wilkes added. "He can get out of the pocket, (so we) got to lock on (to receivers). We have to stay on out targets."


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