By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield form one of the SEC’s best cornerback tandems, having recorded a combined 19 career interceptions.
So their position coach, Melvin Smith, has been understandably reluctant to take them off the field.
But last week he was convinced that Darius Slay, an ICC transfer, was ready for action.
With Broomfield limited by a broken thumb suffered three weeks prior, Slay logged his most extensive playing time of the season. He returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown, made three tackles (one for a loss), and forced a fumble.
Slay’s performance gave Smith some self-validation.
“It’s just a feel, and what I found out, I told coach (Dan Mullen), I’m just going to play them all a little more,” Smith said. “If you watch our game, five of our corners played, and we missed (Marvin) Bure in special teams because he was hurt, but those six guys have to do things in the kicking game and on defense for us to play good.”
The other two corners to get playing time were senior Damein Anderson, a longtime reserve, and redshirt freshman Jamerson Love.
Playing like he practiced
Smith said Slay had been “second-guessing” his decision to come to MSU. After all, he was stuck behind Banks and Broomfield, and as a juco transfer has a small window to make an impact.
But defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said Slay has not shied away from competition and was well prepared for Georgia.
“The biggest thing that stood out is, it’s cliché, but the way he practiced was exactly the way he played,” Wilson said. “We saw him doing those things in practice, and there was a lot of carryover.”
Slay said after the game – a 24-10 Georgia win – that he was surprised by the amount of playing time he got. If Smith keeps his word, he and the other corners should get ready for more of the same.
“If somebody researched me as a coach, they know that if I play a lot of corners, I’m not really sure who my corners are,” Smith said. “And if I’ve got two corners, I don’t play a lot of people, I play them. And it makes me have to rethink and look at how I do things.”