ATHENS — It looks as if Jacob Eason isn’t the only key Georgia player to get injured and then have trouble getting back his starting job.
When Malkom Parrish broke a bone in his left foot during the preseason, it was seen as a blow to Georgia’s secondary. The senior cornerback had started 25 games total as a sophomore and junior and was the best pure tackler in the secondary.
And when Parrish returned to action after missing three games, the fact he was only playing off the bench in dime coverage was also seen as just a step toward eventually reclaiming a starting spot.
But three games into his return, Parrish is still playing only in dime formations. Sophomore Tyrique McGhee has played well enough to maintain one of the two base-defense cornerback spots, along with incumbent starter Deandre Baker, a junior.
Parrish’s injury isn’t still a factor, coach Kirby Smart said when asked on Monday.
“Malkom’s back, he feels good, he’s playing. Tyrique is playing good,” Smart said. “It’s similar to every position we’ve got: We’re going to play the guys that are playing the best. I don’t feel like Malkom’s being held out of anything for any reason. He’s back, he feels good about his foot.”
Conditioning is one thing that may still be an issue for Parrish, according to Smart. Parrish missed about five weeks total of practice, while McGhee and Baker and the other defensive backs have “earned the right” to play every snap.
“So we’ll continue to do that week to week, based on practice,” Smart said.
Parrish did get beat on three passes by Vanderbilt on Saturday, though it may be a bit unfair to single him out when he’s coming on the field exclusively for passing downs. But Georgia’s pass defense has fared well since the season began.
Georgia ranks first in the nation in fewest yards allowed per pass attempt: 4.8. The Bulldogs’ pass defense ranks 10th nationally and fourth in the SEC, yielding 156.7 yards per game.
When the season began, Georgia originally put senior Aaron Davis at left cornerback, Parrish’s spot, with sophomore J.R. Reed playing safety. But McGhee has played well enough that he’s at cornerback, and Davis has moved to star.
“It’s just a statement to the DBs as a collective,” Davis said. “One of our key players from last year going down and being able to corral the whole defensive back group and telling guys that we’re going to have to step up in his absence. Pick him up as a collective and not just any individual.”