ATHENS, Ga. — Cornerback Asher Allen might be the friendliest player on Georgia’s football team, often offering a smile and a handshake before and after interviews.
Midway through this season, however, that came to a halt.
Allen wouldn’t shake anybody’s hand, and his smile was forced. It wasn’t something that had been written or said about the 5-foot-10, 198-pound junior from Tucker, but rather a broken right hand he suffered Oct. 25 at LSU.
Staff Photo by Brett Davis
“I hated having to do that to you guys when I had to come in here,” Allen said.
Georgia’s players and coaches kept Allen’s injury quiet so opponents couldn’t take advantage, and Allen did his best to play as if it had never happened.
“Two or three times every game, I would just bang it, and I would have this glazed look,” he said. “You do stuff without thinking, but then you get your hands in there and you’ve got a pain running down your arm. You can be falling down and catch yourself with your hands, and I would feel it that way, too.”
Even so, Allen continued to be one of the bright spots on a defense that struggled down the stretch. He broke up two passes at LSU, had a tackle for loss against Florida and six total tackles at Kentucky, but he didn’t have a big statistical season because opposing offenses spent more time testing the other cornerback spot.
That continued after his injury, because nobody noticed.
“His stats won’t show it, but he’s had an outstanding season,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “You’ve got a guy who’s been playing with one hand for six straight weeks. He couldn’t grab. He couldn’t punch. He couldn’t jab, and no one knew that.
“He’s fine now and is the healthiest he’s going to be in the bowl game.”
LSU’s first offensive play against Georgia resulted in a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Darryl Gamble, but the Tigers took their next drive 72 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown. Allen hit his hand on a helmet during a cutback run by Keiland Williams the play before the tying score, and he said it went numb for a couple of minutes.
Then the throbbing started.
“I was just trying to figure out what was going on,” he said. “I thought I had sprained it and figured if I could move it that everything would be good, but later on when I took my glove off, my hand was huge. Then I was like, ‘That’s not good.’”
Two days after the 52-38 win in Baton Rouge, X-rays revealed the break. When asked why he was suddenly wearing a green, noncontact jersey in practice, Allen shrugged it off by saying he was fine.
And with no dip in his play, that questioning quickly stopped.
“He would sometimes wear this pad that made him look so non-athletic, but he pulled it off well,” backup safety Drew Williams said. “I couldn’t have pulled it off.”
Odds and ends
Georgia senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who was expected to return after tearing his ACL in the opener and redshirting, confirmed Thursday that he will come back. ... Today’s practice has been changed to a running and lifting session, so the Bulldogs will hold their final on-campus bowl practice Saturday morning. ... Five starters will be graduating today: receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, punter Brian Mimbs, defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and safety CJ Byrd.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...