ATHENS – This is when Georgia’s starting cornerbacks have been noticed this season: Aaron Davis when he made a leaping interception. Malkom Parrish when he made any number of impressive open-field tackles, often for a loss.
Here’s when they haven’t been noticed: On a long completed pass.
That, for the Georgia football team, has been a very good thing, and a bit unheralded.
“I’m trying to remember of any deep balls that went for touchdowns,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. He couldn’t think of any.
“Most of the more explosive pass plays have been down the middle, it seems like. I can’t remember that were on the edges. Those guys are very involved in supporting the run. Overall I think they’ve done a very nice job.”
Richt also termed the play of Davis and Parrish as “solid.” In a season in which the coaches have been careful about praising their players that qualifies as a heavy compliment.
The fact those two sophomores are emerging so strongly as pass defenders is remarkable. Davis is a former walk-on. Parrish is a sophomore and first-time starter who hardly played most of last year.
“It’s kind of a funny thing out there at corner. You tend not to notice them until there is a big play,” said Jeremy Pruitt, the defensive coordinator and secondary coach. “So they both need to continue to improve. But the good thing is they do have some games under their belt and they’re learning how to play a little bit and what’s kind of expected in this league.”
It’s too early to call Davis and Parrish shut-down corners. It’s just been quiet on their sides of the field: The two best receivers they’ve faced – Louisiana-Monroe’s Rashon Ceasar and South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper – operated mostly out of the slot. That in itself is also a compliment.
Parrish has become known for his physical play, and has 10 solo tackles this season, tied for the second-most on the team. That’s unusual for a cornerback.
Davis has one of the team’s five interceptions, which came in the opener when the Warhawks tried to loft a sideline pass in his direction. He went up and grabbed it, and the Warhawks stopped trying in his direction.
This weekend comes Alabama, which doesn’t have Amari Cooper anymore, and whose passing game has been uneven. But freshman Calvin Ridley has a lot of raw talent.
“Just knowing Alabama, they always have a really great recruiting class year after year,” Davis said. “So I’m banking on them to have some pretty good receivers.”
Parrish was asked how he’d assess his season so far. He didn’t talk much about the start, just the finish.
“If you’re going to throw the first punch, throw the last punch,” Parrish said. “If you’re gonna start it that way finish it that way. Keep working hard and playing for those moments.”