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October 29, 2010

99 Yards to a Sixth Straight Win Over the Gators

I probably would have gone and jumped off that bridge (over the St. John's River) if [Florida] had...won.
- Bulldog QB John Lastinger following Georgia's 10-9 victory over the Gators in 1983

There are a handful of notable 90-plus-yard scoring drives of 10-plus plays in Georgia football history (including a game-winning one against Florida in 1981), but none are probably more meaningful or significant than the 16-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that defeated the Gators in 1983.

The game was of the utmost importance: Georgia and Florida were meeting for only the second time in history both ranked in the AP's top ten, plus, the rival teams were battling, along with Auburn, for the top spot in the SEC.

Underdogs for the first time in a regular-season game since Tennessee in 1980, Georgia was anticipated by most to finally fall victim in Jacksonville to the more talented Gators. 

It was reported in a Florida newspaper that Georgia's own Herschel Walker, who had departed for the USFL nine months earlier, had even said the Gators would win.  Come to find out, they probably should have...   



At the time of cornerback Darryl Jones' interception, giving the Bulldogs the ball at their own 1-yard line with 5:44 remaining in the third quarter, Georgia was being outgained 318 to 97 in total yardage but trailed Florida by only six points.

After nearly three quarters of unsatisfactory play (nearly three entire years some would argue), quarterback John Lastinger promptly put on quite a performance in guiding Georgia the entire length of the Gator Bowl field.

What's noteworthy about the long drive is, if you take out the 25-yard Lastinger-to-Clarence Kay pass and the added-on 15-yard penalty, 59 of the 99 yards came on 15 plays (less than an average of four yards per play); a true three yards (or four) and a cloud of dust, smashmouth exhibition that was often characteristic of the Coach Vince Dooley era. 

Also, the Bulldogs converted two of three critical third-down plays during the drive and the one third down that wasn't converted, Georgia picked up the first down on the subsequent fourth-down play. 

Finally, after 16 plays, 99 yards, and 7:26 burned off the clock, Barry Young scored from a yard out with 13:18 remaining in the game.  Kevin Butler's PAT gave Georgia a 10-9 advantage - a lead the Bulldogs would not relinquish.  However, Florida did provide a bit of a late scare...

For the sixth time in the ballgame, the Gators drove inside Georgia's 25-yard line; nonetheless, for the third consecutive trip deep into Bulldog territory, Florida came up empty when kicker Bobby Raymond missed a 41-yard field goal with 9:49 left in the contest.

In the one-point victory, the undistinguished Lastinger was suddenly celebrated as he was voted the team's MVP of the game, despite gaining just 104 yards of total offense (55 passing, 49 rushing) on 30 plays - a paltry 3.5 yards-per-play average.  Disregard "the drive" and the senior quarterback's figures - 47 yards on 23 plays, 2.0 average - are near horrifying.

But, for anyone who remembers John Lastinger, you'll recall his passing skills, or statistics, would never be confused with those of Bulldog greats Eric Zeier, David Greene, or Matthew Stafford; his versatility nowhere comparable to a Quincy Carter, D.J. Shockley, or Aaron Murray.

However, as he would exhibit a second time (by the exact same score) a little less than two months later, Lastinger was able to accomplish what counted the most - simply win ballgames, including a perfect twice in two tries against the rival Gators.  

October 28, 2010

Where's A Harvey Hill When We Need Him?

I was sitting around with a group of my friends last night, discussing Coach Richt's recent move to bring in guest speakers prior to games for motivational purposes - an action that seems to be having a positive effect on the team.

"It has to be a good speaker for the Gators," said one of my friends.  "Bring in Buck Belue!  I don't think he ever lost to Florida."

"Buck would probably charge Richt a speaking fee," joked a pal.

"We need a guy like Eric Zeier," said another friend.  "Someone who never beat Florida, who can deliver to the team the pain involved with never defeating maybe your biggest rival." 

"I doubt Eric wants to recollect the 1994 beatdown he endured in Gainesville," I quickly responded.

Nevertheless, my friend's suggestion did remind me of perhaps the greatest Georgia football pep-talk story of all time, when a former Bulldog did recall the pain he experienced to an arch rival.

This speech took place almost exactly 30 years ago and would probably be best retold in four weeks when Georgia plays Tech.  However, with the Bulldogs, for a variety of reasons, desperately needing a victory this Saturday over the Gators, I can't pass up recalling Harvey Hill's pre-game talk to the 1980 team, which, like today's squad, was in dire need of a decisive game. 

Harvey Hill was by no means a star football player for Georgia, but he did have his moments.  In his first varsity game, coming in a 33-6 loss to Alabama in 1926, Hill pounced on a blocked punt in the Tide's end zone late in the contest, preventing the Bulldogs from being shutout by 'Bama for a fourth consecutive season.

Playing a reserve role at fullback and halfback, Hill rushed for two touchdowns, passed for another, and converted a couple extra points during the 1927 and 1928 seasons.  It was during Hill's junior season when he was part of Georgia's acclaimed "Dream of Wonder Team." 

Regarded as one of the best pre-World War II teams of college football, the 1927 Bulldogs, who had gone 5-4 the year before, breezed through their first nine games of the season, winning them all by an average of nearly 25 points.

Entering the regular-season finale against Tech, it seemed Georgia was undoubtedly headed to the Rose Bowl.  All they had to do was get by the underdog Yellow Jackets and the Bulldogs would be off to Pasadena to play for a national championship.

However, Georgia suffered what still remains arguably the most devastating loss in its football history, falling to the Jackets by a 12-0 score.  There would be no Rose Bowl in 1927 and no national title.

Fifty-three years later, Coach Vince Dooley asked Hill to speak to his team prior to its game against Georgia Tech.  In 1980, the Bulldogs were in a similar situation to the 1927 squad; although Georgia was heading to the Sugar Bowl to play Notre Dame, an upset loss to the Yellow Jackets would ruin any chances to play for a national championship.

The following is an excerpt from the book Glory! Glory! and an absolute classic: 
Imagine the scene: Harvey Hill, his voice quivering with emotion, lecturing the youngsters who are hanging on his every word:

“We should have won that game against Georgia Tech,” he began. “We were upset, and we had to live with it the rest of our lives. It bothers me today. I’ll never forgive, nor will I forget.”

He is pounding his fist into his hands as he talks:

“I don’t want what happened to us, to happen to you. You’ve got be ready for those &&%%$#! You’ve GOT to be ready. I want you to give it back to them! You are No. 1, and you MUST STAY NO. 1! Make ’em pay!”

He was on the verge of tears as he repeatedly reminded the 1980 Georgia team, “You are going to have to live with this the rest of your lives. Don’t let them ruin your season.”
The rest, as they say, is history... Georgia jumped out to a 17-0 lead over Tech before finally defeating the Jackets, 38-20.  A month later, Notre Dame also fell by the wayside and the Bulldogs, as Hill commanded them, stayed No. 1Although Hill had suffered a heart-breaking loss to the Bulldogs' biggest rival as a player, he inspired an all-important victory over the same school more than five decades later.

In 2001, a 93-year-old Hill passed away after a stroke.  At that time, his son Frank recalled his father's speech and its message to the 1980 team: "Stay focused." 

This Saturday, as Georgia faces a Gator team that has dominated this series the last 20 years and  a coach that has been nearly unbeatable following an open date, the Bulldogs will hopefully receive and follow a similar message to Harvey Hill's from 30 years ago, whomever their guest speaker might be.

October 27, 2010

If you Take Away the Takeaways?!?

Speaking on Georgia's performance at Kentucky, yesterday, I heard a disgruntled Bulldog fan on a sports-talk radio show declare:  
We didn't even gain 300 yards against a bad defense and, if you take away the 4-to-0 turnover margin, we lose!"
Very true and probably true...

However, there's something to be said about not gaining an abundance of yardage but scoring a significant amount of points, as Georgia did Saturday night in gaining only 290 yards of offense but tallying 44 points.

I discovered that since 1966 - the first Georgia football season where game yardage totals are readily available - the Bulldogs had averaged nearly 500 yards of total offense (497.3, to be exact, or greater than 200 yards more than Saturday's output) in the 69 previous games Georgia had scored 42 points or more.  

In fact, the 290-yard offensive output is Georgia's lowest over the last 44+ seasons when scoring 42+ points.  Of those 69 games, only one other time did the Dogs gain less than 300 yards (295 yards in 48-13 win over W. Kentucky in 2006) and on just seven other occasions were less than 400 yards gained by the Bulldogs.

If a team is scoring points but not necessarily gaining yardage, it most likely is having success in its return game, forcing turnovers, and/or committing very few turnovers (if any) - all of which Georgia accomplished versus the 'Cats. 

For the third consecutive game, the Bulldogs did not commit a single turnover.  Do you know how rare that is?  For Georgia, like any other team, extremely rare.

I found that since 1980 - the first Georgia football season where turnover totals for individual games are readily available - or a span of 373 games, only one other time have the Bulldogs gone three consecutive games during a season without losing a turnover (1997 vs. Tennessee-Vanderbilt-Kentucky).  There has been just one other three-game, no-turnover occurrence if merging seasons are considered (Georgia Tech-Michigan State in the final two games of 1988, Baylor in 1989 season opener).         

Since the Bulldogs, like most every other team, committed turnovers with more frequency on a yearly basis prior to 1980 than afterwards, it's safe to say the aforementioned three 3-game spans of no turnovers are probably the only such times in Georgia football history.

While the Dawgs haven't been losing the ball, they've certainly been getting after it, forcing nine turnovers in the last three games combined. 

Remember all the discussion a year ago concerning Georgia's poor turnover margin?  This year, the Bulldogs currently rank second in the SEC and 18th in the nation with a +0.88 margin.  No SEC team and just nine FBS squads have committed fewer than Georgia's 8 turnovers for the entire season.

The bottom line is a win is a win, whether a team has many or few offensive yards, and turnovers are a part of the game of football - a very big part.  Winning the turnover battle should never be discounted. 

Georgia is displaying signs of winning in a manner that has been unconventional for the Dogs the last few seasons.  After much hope, they are FINALLY starting to force turnovers while not committing any, while discovering you don't necessarily need a lot of yardage to outscore your opponent.

October 24, 2010

Ealey's Modern-Day Mark

Late last night, a reader emailed me asking how Washaun Ealey's five touchdowns against Kentucky could have tied a school record when, "...you say Bob McWhorter scored 7 touchdowns in a game in 1910," in one of my books. 

Good question.

Not to take anything away from Washaun's high-scoring performance last night against the Wildcats.  His five touchdowns in one game, tying a modern-day Georgia record, is five more than I've ever scored in a Bulldog uniform... 

However, when UGA, or most every other college program, indicates a team or player broke, set, or tied a record, it's obviously amongst only the records the school has on hand. 

In Georgia's case (like most schools), for definitive statistics (i.e., yards, attempts, individual scoring, etc.), most of these records are primarily from the 1940s to the present, or modern-day or modern-era records/statistics.  Statistics before this era, like any touchdowns scored by Bob McWhorter (1910-1913), are considered "unofficial."

As one can imagine, finding team or individual totals for yardage, attempts, returns, etc., from the 1940s and before are quite difficult, if not impossible.  And if they are discovered, their accuracy can often be questioned.  For example, some early college football statisticians did not consider negative gains when tallying yardage.

However, for nearly every Georgia football game since the program's beginning in 1892, individual scoring is researchable.

While conducting research for one of my books, I nerdily decided to go back and gather all of the scoring for every available Georgia game in history.

Based on my findings, and including Ealey's performance against the 'Cats, below is a listing of the most touchdowns scored by an individual in a single game in UGA football history - the entire history:

7- Bob McWhorter vs. Gordon (1910)
6- Bob McWhorter vs. Alabama Presbyterian (1913)
5½- Frank "Si" Herty vs. Mercer (1892)
5- Bob McWhorter vs. Locust Grove (1910)
5- Robert Edwards vs. South Carolina (1995)
5- Washaun Ealey vs. Kentucky (2010)

I've been of the opinion for some time that although Herschel is the greatest or most outstanding UGA football player of all time, and Charley Trippi is the best all-around, Bob McWhorter is probably the most valuable player ever at Georgia.  The above listing might be some indication of why I think so.

Also, you may wonder, how the heck does someone score half a touchdown? 

I have no idea but apparently halfback Frank "Si" Herty - the cousin of 1892 head coach Dr. Charles Herty - did (along with five whole touchdowns) against Mercer nearly 120 years ago, when "[Henry] Brown and Herty scored the last touch-down, making the score 50 to 0," according to the Atlanta Constitution.

As I've posted a few times before, the final score of the 1892 Georgia-Mercer game reportedly should have actually been 60-0 but the official scorer made two trips to the Broad Street Dispensary during the contest for "refreshments," missing two touchdowns (counting 4 points each back then) and a successful PAT (2 points).

Just think, if the game's scorer hadn't gone to go get his drink on during the very first Georgia football game, Frank Herty might be credited with as many as 7½ touchdowns - an individual mark that would still remain a UGA record, whether pre-modern or modern day, for touchdowns scored in a game.

October 22, 2010

Return to a Onetime Ritual in Lexington

Ask many of the long-time followers of the Bulldogs what their favorite road trip use to be and you'll often hear about the journeys to Lexington to watch Georgia play Kentucky at night.  Georgia fans would watch horse races at Keeneland during the day and their Dogs at Stoll Field, and later Commonwealth Stadium, in a nighttime affair.



From 1965-1996, Georgia played in Lexington 17 times, 14 of which were night games.  Of the three games that were played during the day - 1972, 1984, and 1988 - two would have been played at night if television hadn't interfered and moved the start time.

Since 1996, however, all of the Bulldogs' games at Kentucky have been played during the daytime, that is, until tomorrow night when the teams kickoff under the lights - a return to a onetime, every-other-year ritual for Georgia football and its fans.

There are a handful of memorable plays I recall from the nighttime Dawgs-Cats clashes in Lexington:

Tom Saunders' late fumble recovery securing a 24-20 Georgia win in 1974, [of course] Rex Robinson's last-second field goal to nip the Wildcats four years later, Buck Belue's 91-yard scoring pass to Amp Arnold during the national championship season of '80, Carlos Yancey intercepting a late 'Cat pass in Dog territory for a 34-30 victory in 1994, and Herschel's great run after the catch for a 64-yard touchdown in 1982.  

The '82 meeting was suppose to be anything but a struggle for Georgia.  The Bulldogs entered the game undefeated and ranked third in the country.  The Wildcats, on the other hand, had a winless 0-5-1 record, were averaging merely eight points per game, and were a three-touchdown underdog at home to Georgia.

Early in the second quarter, Kentucky was shocking the Bulldogs by a 14-3 score, having tallied more points in the first 17 minutes of the contest than the Wildcats would in any game that entire season.

And then, as he had done several times before, Herschel saved the day.  His Bulldog teammates rallied as well, scoring 24 unanswered points for a 27-14 win.

"Who knows," offered Georgia offensive line coach Alex Gibbs following the victory, "this is just a crazy football team."  Indeed, it was a crazy football team, that got a scare in Lexington by a dreadful squad, but would eventually be playing for a national title a little over two months later.

It wasn't the first scariness or craziness a Bulldog coaching staff had to endure on an excursion to Kentucky.  

Immediately after the 1974 team's chartered plane from Atlanta landed in Lexington, the FBI and the airport's bomb squad quickly boarded the airplane.

In mid-flight, apparently renowned defensive coordinator Erk Russell went to relieve himself.  However, the coach got much more than he bargained for in the bathroom when he observed writing on the mirror, in soap, indicating there was a bomb on the plane.    

Erk promptly alerted the flight staff, who relayed the coach's message to the airport's Blue Grass Field security.

With the passengers still aboard and not allowed to leave the grounded plane, a thorough search was conducted of the vessel and passenger interrogations administered by the FBI. 

Regardless, no one in the traveling Bulldog party or anyone else confessed then or has since of scribbling the threat, "There is a bom on this airplain"... and I don't blame them. 

October 19, 2010

Consecutive Defensive Conquests

In reading about Georgia's 43-0 victory on Saturday over Vanderbilt, I observed much praise for the Bulldogs defense and many a mention of their first shutout versus an SEC foe in over four years.

Notwithstanding, what currently stands out in my mind is not just Georgia's fine defensive play against the Commodores but the defense's accomplishment of consecutive notable performances - an oddity indeed for this team since the end of the 2007 season.

I did some digging and discovered that in the back-to-back games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, the Bulldogs yielded or forced all of the following combined consecutive-game lows over the last two years:

* 67 rushing yards - lowest since 2008 S. Carolina-Arizona St. (22)
* 3 fumbles recovered - most since 2007 Georgia Tech-Hawaii (3)
The 3 fumbles recovered by Georgia the last two games are more than the Bulldogs had the entire 2009 season and the same number recovered the previous 18 games combined.  
* 409 total yards - lowest allowed to FBS teams since 2006 Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech (377)
* 14 points - lowest since 2006 UAB-Colorado (13)
* 20 first downs - lowest since 2004 S. Carolina-Marshall (16)

I know, I know... it's a bit of a stretch.  In defending the Vols and 'Dores, Georgia was fortunate enough to be facing the two worst offenses in the conference (Tennessee is 11th in the SEC in both scoring and total offense, Vandy is 12th in both categories).

However, both games were against SEC competition, and to achieve the aforementioned consecutive-game defensive milestones - all five of them - is rather noteworthy.

In addition, of Tennessee and Vandy's 12 combined games this season, besides perhaps their efforts versus LSU, their worst offensive performances have both come against the Bulldogs.  And, by the way, LSU defensively ranks first in the SEC and in the nation's top eight in rushing, passing, and total defense. 

Maybe, the Bulldog defense is starting to figure out Grantham's system and finally beginning to comprehend opposing offenses. Just maybe...

Regardless, come Saturday, they'll undoubtedly need some sort of comprehension when they attempt to defend the Wildcats.  Contrary to Georgia's previous two opponents, Kentucky has one of the SEC's best offenses, ranking amongst the conference's top three in scoring, passing, and total offense.

October 15, 2010

A Signing Before the Ceremony

I wanted to post a quick mention of a "Meet and Greet" book signing I'll be attending prior to tomorrow's game from 9:00 to 11:00 AM at the UGA Bookstore.  I'll be signing my newest book, Historic Photos of University of Georgia Football, and one or two of my other books will likely also be available.

Charley Trippi and author Robbie Burns will also be there meeting and greeting.

Burns' book Belue to Scott! was recently released and, in case you don't have a copy, it's about the obvious and a book every Bulldog fan should purchase.  I read my copy on the flights to and from Colorado a couple weeks ago.  I was going to post a favorable review of Burns' book until I noticed Tony Barnhart did a much better job than I could have done a couple months ago.

Regarding, Trippi...  Well, the Bulldog legend certainly needs no introduction...

So, prior to your walk to the stadium to see the passing of the collar (and, yes, as an emailer reminded me, the Uga VIII ceremony is BEFORE the game and not at halftime), stop on by the bookstore.

And for those of you who can't come by, don't forget to holler "Damn Good Dog!" when we welcome our newest Uga...

October 12, 2010

Murray Making His Mark


Back in August, if I had seen the future and observed Aaron Murray's statistics through this season's first six games - 62% completion percentage, nearly 1,500 total yards, 14 touchdowns, and only three turnovers - I would've predicted a 4-2 record at this point for the Bulldogs, at worst, maybe as good as a perfect 6-0.  

If you would've told me one of Georgia's victories would be by 27 points over Tennessee (although I knew the Vols would be average, at best), I would've made plans to be at the Georgia Dome in early December, and maybe even Glendale, Arizona, a month later.  

Unfortunately, the Dogs are far, far from making it to Atlanta's SEC title game as their record stands at 2-4 overall, 1-3 in the conference - the only unfavorable data amongst a set of stellar statistics for quarterback Murray.

Murray's 152.1 passing efficiency through the Tennessee game is currently the fourth-best ever at Georgia for a single season, only behind John Rauch in 1946 (174.3), Mike Bobo in 1997 (155.8), and Matthew Stafford in 2008 (153.5) of every Bulldog who has attempted at least 75 passes in a year.

At Murray's current rate, and there's not much reason to believe he can't keep up his pace (Georgia's first 6 opponents have yielded a combined passing efficiency of 129.4; the final 6 are allowing only a little less at 124.1.), Murray's total offensive yardage would rank 5th in Bulldog history while his total touchdowns would rank tied for first with D.J. Shockley (28 in 2005).

Besides his arm, much to the surprise of many, including Coach Richt, Murray has exhibited he can also be effective running the ball, proving to be perhaps the best running quarterback at Georgia in more than a decade.  

Murray has rushed for four touchdowns at the halfway point of the 2010 regular season.  No Bulldog signal caller has scored more on the ground in an entire season since Quincy Carter rushed for five in 1999.  Murray's two touchdowns rushing against Tennessee was the most by a Georgia quarterback in a game since Carter scored the same amount versus Florida in '99.

Murray's current gross and net rushing yardage - 221 and 122 - are both on pace to be regular-season highs for a Dog quarterback since, you guessed it, Carter again in 1999 (441 gross, 255 net).

Whether by air or ground, Aaron Murray has proved to be one of only a few bright spots for the Bulldogs during a disappointing year.  As a matter of fact, Murray's play has remarkably been this season's high point following a preseason when the redshirt freshman was the team's biggest question mark.  

October 8, 2010

When the Vols Didn't Mind Kissing Their Sister...

Nearly four months ago, I posted first-half highlights from Georgia's season opener versus Tennessee in 1968.  On the eve of the 2010 Bulldogs-Volunteers game and during a season of bad breaks and misfortune, I thought posting the second-half highlights of the '68 game - a contest with perhaps the most controversial and disputed ending in Georgia football history - would be appropriate.

The clip is just a narrative version and almost 13 minutes long (I couldn't resist including Jake Scott's remarkable 90-yard punt return towards the beginning).  The controversial Tennessee touchdown occurs around the 10:30 mark and, from this clip, it's difficult to determine whether Volunteer receiver Gary Kreis catches the game-tying scoring pass or drops it. 

Notice narrator and Tennessee's John Ward makes no mention of how the pass might have been dropped.  Also, checkout the Volunteers' jubilation following the game - maybe the biggest celebration ever by a team following a tied game.



Leading 17-9 late in the game, Georgia, attempting to run out the clock, committed a five-yard penalty, forcing a Bulldog punt by Spike Jones.  Following a kick into the end zone, Tennessee started from its own 20-yard line with only 2:41 left in the contest. 

Quarterback Bubba Wyche, who would pass for six of his 14 completions on the game's final drive, began moving the Volunteers towards the Bulldogs’ goal.  Tennessee faced a second and goal on Georgia’s four-yard line with approximately 30 seconds remaining; however, successive eight-yard sacks by Bill Stanfill and Billy Payne pushed the Volunteers back to the 20-yard line.  An upset victory for Georgia over 9th-ranked Tennessee was all but clinched.  

Wyche dropped back in the pocket, set himself, and fired a pass over the middle to Gary Kreis.  Just as Kreis tried to make the catch near Georgia’s goal line, cornerback Penny Pennington hit the receiver, jarring the ball loose.  Kreis rolled into the end zone and in the process, gained possession of the football. 

To the Bulldogs' disbelief, officials ruled a Tennessee touchdown.  With time expired, Wyche passed to tight end Ken DeLong for a two-point conversion to end the game in a 17-17 tie. 

The Vols celebrated on the field, acting as if it had won the game.  Head coach Doug Dickey later stated that he had never been prouder of a team in his life. On the contrary, several Bulldog players were brought to tears as the team felt as though it had suffered a defeat.

Kreis had been instructed in the huddle to simply “get into the end zone.”  On the receiver's pass route, he ran downfield and came back across the middle where he was thrown the ball and then greeted by Pennington.  Kreis later admitted that he did indeed bobble the ball as he was being tackled, but he had not dropped it as he rolled into the end zone. 

Two days later, it would be revealed that Kreis was inaccurate in his assessment.

Rumors and unconfirmed reports were disclosed the following Monday morning that Kreis had actually trapped the football as he rolled over Georgia’s goal line.  Members of the media examined game film and concluded that Wyche’s pass definitely bounced from Kreis’ hands to the turf and then rebounded directly back into his arms as he rolled into the end zone. 

As Pennington and Kreis rolled over the goal line, the receiver was still trying to gain possession.  Four officials had mistakenly taken victory away from Georgia; what was ruled a touchdown was actually an incomplete pass.

When Georgia's Vince Dooley was told what the game film revealed, he simply responded that "games are not won on Sunday"; looking at film after a game was not going change its outcome.  

Part of this post is an edited version of a story from my book, "The 50 Greatest Plays in Georgia Bulldogs Football History".

October 6, 2010

RICHT vs. BOBO

Two days prior to the 2006 Georgia-Georgia Tech game, Coach Richt told Mike Bobo that he was turning over the play calling to the young offensive assistant - a change Richt said he had thought about making "for a while."  

Soon afterwards, some of the Bulldog Nation were already questioning the move.

Now, three-and-a-half years later, many Bulldog backers feel Bobo's play calling is a major reason for the football team's recent downward spiral.

Even The Smartest Bulldog online trivia game is getting in on the discussion, asking the other day in its Daily Question, "Who should be calling Georgia's offensive plays?"  At the time I played the game, only 13 percent of those that answered believed Bobo should be running the offense while "Coach Richt" was selected by an overwhelming four times Bobo's amount.

Over the last couple years, I'm often asked the exact same question and, somewhat unsure of my answer, usually don't have a response. 

I decided to conduct a statistical comparison between Richt and Bobo as far as the production of their offenses, which I realize (and let me emphasize)doesn't necessarily equate to each coach's play-calling prowess

This past Saturday at Colorado was Bobo's 46th game calling the plays.  I thought a fair comparison with his tenure would be Richt's final 46 games as the Bulldogs' play-caller, which began with the 2003 Alabama contest until the Tech game of 2006.

Admittedly, I was rather surprised with the results I found.

Apparently, Bobo's offenses have averaged more yards per play - both rushing and passing - than Richt's, while scoring 15 percent more touchdowns and settling for less field goals:

*Off. TDs (Rush/Pass): RICHT- 137 (67/70); BOBO- 158 (76/82)
*Field Goals: RICHT- 75 of 96; BOBO- 65 of 82
*Yards per Off. Play (Run/Pass): RICHT- 5.66 (4.01/7.73); BOBO- 5.96 (4.42/7.89)

With Bobo calling the plays, the Bulldogs have committed less turnovers and been sacked less frequently, while the number of times settling to punt is near equal, but still in Bobo's favor:

*Turnovers (Int/Fum Lost): RICHT- 80 (37/43); BOBO- 73 (41/32)
*Pct. of Pass Plays resulting in Sack: RICHT- 6.26; BOBO- 4.42
*Punts: RICHT- 204, BOBO- 200

Bobo's offenses have been more efficient converting on both third down and when third and fourth down are combined.  And, although Richt's offenses made more trips into the opposition's red zone, Bobo's is much more productive, scoring more points per red zone visit.  The average time of possession is nearly identical: 

*3rd Down Eff.: RICHT- 39.9%; BOBO- 42.0%
*3rd/4th Down Eff.: RICHT- 41.5%; BOBO- 42.8%
*RZ Visits/Points Per Visit: RICHT- 185/4.68; BOBO- 160/5.24
*Time of Possession: RICHT-29:47; BOBO- 29:38

I often mention YPP (yards per point) and how an offensive YPP is a good indicator of how hard a team had to work to score its points.  Although a team's defense and special teams unit certainly play a role in the same team's offensive YPP, the ratio is an excellent representation of an offense's overall efficiency.  The lower the offensive YPP, the better:

RICHT: 13.53
BOBO: 12.62

An argument could be made that my analysis is like comparing apples to oranges; the Richt and Bobo offenses faced different defenses and armed with different talent, including the extraordinary Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford while primarily Bobo was calling the plays.  

However, in my opinion, the opposing defenses faced by and offensive talent present for Georgia during the two 46-game spans was presumably at or near the same level.  Remember, Richt's period includes David Greene's senior season and most of his junior year, and D.J. Shockley's senior campaign of 2005 - perhaps, the best season ever [statistically] by a Georgia quarterback.

Nevertheless, perhaps the main criterion for an offense's production should be the end result - whether the game was won or lost.  This is the one measurement where there was a decided advantage - by 3 games overall, 3 1/2 games in conference - when Richt was calling the plays:    

RICHT: 35-11 overall, 21-9 SEC
BOBO: 32-14 overall, 16-11 SEC

Notwithstanding, an argument could definitely be made that this difference in results was hardly the fault of the Bulldogs' recent offenses.

I'm not necessarily arguing Mike Bobo should continue to run the offense;  however, the numbers don't lie.  It is apparent Georgia's offensive production while Bobo has been calling the plays appears to have been just fine, at least comparatively speaking.

Alas, after conducting my analysis, I still remain undecided on who I believe should be calling the Bulldogs' plays.  Part of me now feels that perhaps Bobo has been used as a scapegoat for the entire team's demise.

On the other hand, it's almost understandable why 35 percent of players at The Smartest Bulldog answered the Daily Question not selecting Bobo or Richt, but "NEITHER."