ATHENS — For someone who was thought to be questionable going into the game against UT-Martin, cornerback KAmari Lassiter left no doubt about his availability moving forward.
The starting Georgia cornerback returned to the lineup after battling a foot injury for all of fall camp. He wore a black, non-contact jersey at practice in a way to preserve his availability for the season.
Lassiter’s 36 defensive snaps were the most of any Georgia cornerback. Lassiter didn’t record any stats in the win, but that’s not a bad thing for a cornerback. UT-Martin threw the ball 33 times for a paltry 128 yards.
The junior cornerback acknowledged he and the Georgia secondary weren’t tested on Saturday. But it still felt great to be back out there.
“For me personally, when it comes to hitting and tackling, that’s something that I itch to do,” Lassiter said. “Coming out of that black jersey, it was like a burden let off me. Finally being able to let loose and play football the way I’ve always played.”
Georgia got a long look at the other cornerbacks on Saturday. Daylen Everette got the start opposite Lassiter, with Julian Humphrey also working with the first-team defense at cornerback. AJ Harris and Nyland Green saw the field later in the game.
The only points surrendered by Georgia came when UT-Martin beat Harris in coverage. There was little the freshman cornerback could’ve done, as he seemed to be in step-for-step coverage.
Lassiter knows what that is like, as he remembers his first game as a Bulldog.
“It’s really just the next play mentality. You go to the film room and see what you could’ve done better,” Lassiter said. “There is always that one little thing that you could’ve done better. You could’ve moved you feet a little bit quicker, you could’ve stepped a little faster. So you learn from that and just keep moving forward.
Harris and the other Goergia cornerbacks will continue to compete for that other starting spot. Due to the lack of downfield passing attempts, Georgia really didn’t get a chance to see what its secondary could do. Add in the strong play of Malaki Starks, Javon Bullard and Tykee Smith at safety and star, there’s a less clear picture of how good the other cornerbacks are.
Outside of Lassiter, of course.
“There has not been a large separation. There may have been in this game, I’ve got to go watch the tape,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said on Saturday. “But they’ll continue to compete every day in practice. Kamari knows he’s got to play well too…. It’s never done. It never is at our place.”
Lassiter was in agreement with his head coach when it came to finding an every-down running mate. Georgia may not face a great passing offense for the foreseeable future, but even against lesser competition, there are some clear areas of improvement with this group.
“I think those guys played pretty well. We came and played fast and physical. We were technically sound,” Lassiter said. “We have a lot of things to clean up but I think that we played well to that. We have a lot of things to build off of.”
Lassiter knows that better than anyone in the position group. He is the most experienced cornerback Georgia has on the roster, as he has now started 16 games in his Georgia career.
Given he spent most of fall camp wondering when he get a chance to play and start again, it’s something he isn’t taking for granted as Georgia readies for Ball State this week.
“I would say fall camp was tough for me just because I was more so away from the game I love,” Lassiter said. “I’ve never really had to miss out on a lot of time and not being out there, just watching other guys battle through fall camp, fight hard, go through those practices was more challenging than the injury to me.”