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November 1, 2013

Walker, Worley, and tomorrow Gurley?

With 100+ rushing yards tomorrow,
Gurley would join an elite class in
Georgia-Florida lore.
The other day, I was reminded by a sports-talk radio show of Todd Gurley's 118-yard rushing performance in Jacksonville a year ago, prompting me to identify Georgia's all-time individual 100-yard rushing games in the series.  Resulting against what would rank as the fourth-best rushing defense in the entire nation,  notably, Gurley's feat versus the Gators in 2012 was the 25th 100-yard rushing performance by a Bulldog against Florida.  
 
Gurley's 118 yards as a freshman also setups the possibility in 2013 for him to be added to a very short list of Bulldogs, currently consisting of only Herschel Walker and Tim Worley, who faced Florida at least twice in their UGA careers, and rushed for 100+ yards in every one of their games against the Gators.
 
Ranked by yardage (followed by rushes and rushing TDs), the following are Georgia's 25 individual 100-yard rushing performances in the series.  Below the rankings is somewhat of a "history" of the Bulldogs' great rushing feats against the Gators, and the slight controversy regarding who should actually sit atop the rankings: 
 
239-25-3: Charley Trippi, 1945
238-37-1: Herschel Walker, 1980
219-35-3: Herschel Walker, 1982
198-30-0: Kevin McLee, 1976
192-47-2: Herschel Walker, 1981
188-33-3: Knowshon Moreno, 2007
162-10-2: Willie McClendon, 1977
145- 9- 2: Keith Henderson, 1985
142-31-1: Frank Sinkwich, 1941
135-22-2: Tim Worley, 1988
135-26-1: Ricky Lake, 1970
131- ?- 1: Jack Roberts, 1931
127- ?- 1: Billy Rutland, 1944
124-17-3: Ray Goff, 1976
124-26-4: Robert Edwards, 1997
123-12-3: Cy Grant, 1932
121-29-2: Rodney Hampton, 1989
118-27-1: Todd Gurley, 2012
113- 8- 1: Frank Harvey, 1992 
106- ?- 0: Bill Hartman, 1937
105-11-0: Bill David, 1932
104- 7- 1: Tim Worley, 1985 
103-18-0: Rodney Hampton, 1987
103-18-0: Danny Ware, 2004
100-22-0: Musa Smith, 2002
 
In the 11th game of the Georgia-Florida rivalry, Jack "the Ripper" Roberts became the first identifiable Bulldog to rush for 100 yards against Florida, gaining 131 in a 33-6 rout over the Gators in 1931.  A year later, Cy Grant and Bill David became the first of three Bulldog tandems where each player in the duo gained 100 yards. 
 
In 1937, Bill Hartman became the first of five Bulldogs to reach 100 in a loss to Florida; however, this was followed four years later with Frank Sinkwich's spectacular performance where he not only rushed for 142 yards, but also successfully kicked Georgia's only made field goal in what would be a span of about 30 years.
 
In a 34-0 blowout over Florida in 1945, according to the Atlanta Constitution, Charley Trippi "carried the ball 25 times for a total of 239 yards, an average of 9.1 yards (although, according to my calculator, that's actually an average of 9.6 yards).  Regardless, Trippi's 239 yards officially remains the most by a Georgia player against Florida and would be a school record against any team for 35 years--well, for the most part--until Herschel rushed for 283 versus Vanderbilt in 1980.
 
Here's where things get weird...  In 1976, Kevin McLee and Ray Goff rushed for 198 and 124 yards, respectively, in a memorable 41-27 comeback victory in Jacksonville.  Only a couple of days later, and although Trippi's 239 rushing yards against Florida in 1945 was listed as the school record, UGA announced that, in fact, Glynn Harrison (172 yards vs. Vanderbilt in 1974) had been the actual record holder, and now McLee's 198 was the new school record.  Reportedly, "research revealed that [Trippi's 239] total included [73 in] pass receiving yardage."  Evidently, Trippi 's rushing yards totaled 166 against the Gators.
 
Just a week later at Auburn, McLee rushed for 203 yards and seemingly broke his own school record only recently established.  However, UGA again stepped forward, curiously declaring another mistake had been made--upon further research, Trippi did indeed rush for 239 yards against Florida in 1945 and the school record was his and had been for more than 30 years.
 
(Personally, I'd like to know what research was revealed.  The NCAA has no official stat sheet from the 1945 Georgia-Florida game and it seems Trippi's 239-yard mark is based on the statement from the Atlanta newspaper.  I believe the discrepancy may come from the fact that it appears Trippi gained a number of yards during that game on shovel passes, including 22 resulting in a touchdown.  The shovel-pass yardage might be included in his 239 rushing.  Interestingly, I've seen where Trippi's 22-yard score from a shovel pass is recognized as a rushing touchdown by some, but a receiving touchdown by others.  Who knows... I am certain the UGA record keepers actually did not.)
 
Speaking of curious, Willie McClendon rushed for 153 yards on 9 carries in 1977 against the Gators in the first half alone; the Bulldogs took a 17-10 lead into halftime.  However, McClendon was handed the ball just once in the second half, and Florida would rally for a 22-17 victory.
Worley vs. Florida in '85--his first of two 100-yard
performances, resulting in two games vs. the Gators,
separated by three years (Wingate Downs).

From 1980 through 1982, Herschel rushed for a whooping 649 yards against the Gators--the most collectively gained against the eight common opponents he faced in his three seasons at UGA.  During the 1980s, Tim Worley and Rodney Hampton also had multiple 100-yard rushing games in Jacksonville.  Hampton's two 100-yard performances (1987, 1989) surrounded a subordinate role to Worley in the 1988 game.  Worley's two are intriguing in that the first (1985) came as a true freshman over the top-ranked Gators, while the second (1988) followed not playing in the '86 game due to an injury and attending junior college in 1987, resulting in two 100-yard performances in two games versus Florida, separated by three years. 
 
Rushing for an 80-yard touchdown on Georgia's first offensive play of the 1992 game, Frank Harvey is the last Bulldog fullback to gain 100+ against the Gators.  Whereas the last 15 years have produced remarkable performances by Georgia tailbacks versus Florida, particularly, Robert Edwards in 1997, Knowshon a decade later, and of course Gurley a season ago.
 
As far as Gurley joining Walker and Worley with multiple 100-yard rushing performances in the same number of games against Florida, I like his chances if he's healthy: the banged-up Gator defense is allowing 3.7 yards per rush--the same average Georgia is yielding--while their last two opponents have featured a 100-yard rusher (Jeremy Hill of LSU and Henry Josey of Missouri). 
 
Last year, the Bulldogs wouldn't have won without Gurley's 100-yard rushing game against the Gators.  Tomorrow, they'll likely need a similar performance from the sophomore tailback to avoid defeat in Jacksonville for the first time in three years. 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tim Worley may still be the 2nd best running back to play at Georgia. Quite a talent.

Anonymous said...

Cool post, Patrick. Hard to believe your able to come up with all the facts/stats you find. Keep it up, it makes your blog the only one like it on the Bulldogs.