ATHENS -- The Georgia Bulldogs didn’t seem awake in the first half of their noon matchup with the Southern Jaguars on Saturday. Sophomore cornerback Malkom Parrish helped the team snap out of that sleepwalk.
Parrish blocked a punt in the middle of the first quarter to give Georgia’s offense great field position on the Southern 27-yard line. The short field was enough for the Bulldogs, who scored their first touchdown of the game three plays later. The blocked punt gave Georgia a boost and served as the turning point in the Bulldogs’ 48-6 win.
“We had a block right and a block left (call),” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “We wanted the block left with (Parrish). We thought he’d get there, No. 1, and No. 2, if he got there late, he wouldn’t rough the kicker.”
The noticeable turning of the tide after the blocked punt was something running back Sony Michel pointed out after the game.
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“Every big play we have creates momentum,” Michel said. “That’s what we need from this team. We have to create our own momentum when we start slow. That was great.”
It wasn’t all Parrish accomplished in the game. He ended the afternoon with three total tackles and one tackle for loss in Georgia’s fourth victory of the season.
One of his biggest tackles came on Southern’s third drive of the game. After punting on their first two possessions, the Jaguars marched down the field and threatened to score. Southern attempted to run a wide receiver screen to Mike Jones with the hope of converting the second third down of the drive. But Parrish had other plans.
“It was man coverage,” Parrish said. “I saw (Jones) come out and go back in, so I had to make the play.”
Parrish blew up the screen and brought Jones down to the ground for a loss of 2 yards. The Jaguars attempted a long field goal but were unsuccessful.
Parrish’s effort offered a glimpse of his growth. Richt explained that it’s not just any player who has a chance to rush the punter. The consequences of roughing the kicker are severe by a head coach’s standard. Therefore, only players who proved at practice they understand how to do it correctly are given the chance come game day.
It’s evident Parrish passed the test.
“Malkom’s a very good football player,” Richt said. “He’s become a very reliable guy. We have a good trust factor with him. He takes care of business.”