September 25, 2013
September 20, 2013
|Even the great Junkyard Dogs struggled|
against the itsy bitsy Spiders in 1975.
During the week of Halloween in 1975 and leading up to Georgia's eighth game of the season, there was a lot going on – what some would call distractions – involving the Bulldogs' football program. James Brown's Dooley's Junkyard Dogs was officially released at a press conference in Atlanta, while some UGA students caused an uproar demanding that the school's marching band revive another song, Dixie, which hadn't been played by the Redcoats during games for several years. Because of such diversions, plus, high-powered Florida fast approaching as Georgia's ninth opponent, hardly anyone noticed the University of Richmond was coming to town.
The Spiders traveled to Athens with a perfect record – a perfect 3-0 record in conference play, that is, as part of the soon-to-be Division I-AA Southern Conference; they were 1-3 in non-conference games.
Back then, Las Vegas wouldn't even release a line on a game matching a formidable team with one considered lower tier; however, at most of the local books, the Bulldogs were laying nothing less than four to five touchdowns versus Richmond.
Georgia would be without the services of its starting quarterback, Ray Goff, who had an injured shoulder, but it didn't seem to matter. Matt Robinson, the starter from the year before, would be filling in, although speculation was that he would be off the field by halftime as the Bulldogs emptied their bench during an expected rout. According to a local sportswriter, the only chance Richmond had for victory was if the Bulldogs ate "so much candy [from Halloween] that they can't get out of bed." He concluded by predicting a 47-7 Georgia victory.
The only person seemingly concerned about the Spiders was UGA coach Vince Dooley; nevertheless, those of us that remember the Dooley era recall that the then-head Bulldog of them all would have fretted if his team was to play the Little Sisters of the Poor. "I just call 'em as I see 'em...Sure, I'm worried about Richmond," he said a few days prior to the game. Grasping a little at straws, Dooley then cited Tennessee's upset loss the week before, ironically, to what was then known as "North Texas State." Also, Vince's brother Bill's North Carolina team had recently been beaten by East Carolina, which had lost to Richmond earlier in the season.
Informing the media why Richmond possibly could play inspired football at Sanford Stadium, Dooley explained, "It would be like us playing Ohio State or Notre Dame or Oklahoma. We may not win, but we [would] sure try too."
Here's the best part of the story – an anecdote a then-UGA defensive assistant still tells to this day. In preparing for Richmond early in the week, the assistant coach approached Dooley and asked if instead of solely Richmond, the defense could also prepare for the biggest distraction of them all – the 11th-ranked Gators, who were sure to be double-digit favorites when they faced Georgia in Jacksonville the following week. Dooley was reluctant but gave in, allowing the assistant to primarily prepare his troops for a game more than a week away while somewhat neglecting the lowly Spiders. However, within minutes of the opening kickoff, forgotten Richmond exhibited it had a surprise in store for host Georgia, and the Spiders were not one to be overlooked.
On the first possession of the game, Richmond marched more than 70 yards in a whopping 17 plays to kick a field goal. The Bulldogs quickly responded with a touchdown, but then the Spiders regained the lead with a touchdown of their own. Spearheaded by running back John Palazeti and quarterback Larry Shaw, the Richmond offense had its way with Georgia's acclaimed Junkyard Dogs defense, and the Spiders entered intermission with a 17-14 lead.
At halftime, a reporter indicated that Dooley was obviously incensed with his team's first-half effort, and closed the doors to the locker room off to everyone but players and coaches. It was noted that even the youngest Dooley, 7-year-old Derek, was shut out from his father's halftime fury.
As he tells the story, the aforementioned assistant believed during halftime his coaching career at Georgia was literally hanging on by a string. Surely, he thought, if the Bulldogs happen to lose to the Spiders, Dooley would perhaps be looking for a head or two to roll, beginning with the one head that talked him into looking towards the following week.
Fortunately for the UGA defensive assistant, the Bulldog offense was able to counter Richmond's Palazeti, who finished with 130 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, and Shaw, who completed 12 of 19 passes for two touchdowns. Georgia's terrific rushing trio of Glynn Harrison, Andy Reid, and Kevin McLee each gained at least 75 yards on the ground. Off the bench, Robinson completed 5 of 9 passes while adding two touchdowns rushing.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in a true seesaw battle of eight lead changes, Georgia was knocking on the door at Richmond's 14-yard line, trailing 24-21. McLee took a pitch from Robinson, cut through the defense, and ran the final five yards untouched into the end zone "waving the ball jubilantly" in celebration it was said, as if he was scoring the game-winner against the likes of Ohio State or Notre Dame or Oklahoma... and, I guess, Richmond.
|Dooley leaves the field exasperated, |
but relieved after the Richmond win.
Following the game, an angry, but relieved Dooley declared, "Today, we tried to come out there and beat somebody by just showing up. There is no way we can do that." The coach then admitted that he mistakenly "took time to look at Florida's wishbone" offense during the week's practice.
The former UGA assistant chuckles today about what nearly wasn't a laughing matter 38 years ago. Above all, a valuable lesson was learned by him and many others: don't get caught looking ahead because, like Georgia in the 4th quarter against Richmond in 1975, you might suddenly find yourself behind.
September 17, 2013
|Whether for the great UGA backs who ran through |
his opened holes, or the numerous people off the
field, Adams (No. 75) touched the lives of many.
September 13, 2013
|Against top 10 foes, Murray's career passer rating |
is numero uno in UGA history, while his record
is actually not nearly as bad as some make it out.
Beginning in 1945 with Johnny Rauch, or essentially the first season the quarterback position was the Bulldogs' primary passer – the post-single wing era, if you will – through Saturday's game, Georgia has faced 104 AP-ranked top-10 opponents, defeating just 32 while tying two (although I'm guessing the Bulldogs' .317 winning percentage in such circumstances is likely just as good as most major programs). During this time, six Georgia quarterbacks besides Murray started at least five times against top 10 opposition, but only two have a better top-10 winning percentage than him:
A closer look at Murray's contests against top 10 teams reveals, granted, he didn't have a good game in his initial win (#3 Florida in 2012), but most of his six losses were hardly his fault. In fact, of the nine top passing games in UGA history versus top 10 foes, three belong to Murray, including two of which resulted in losses.
Ranked according to passing efficiency and needing at least 10 pass attempts to qualify, Georgia's top 10 passing games versus the top 10 (notice Murray's performance of 17 of 23 passing for 309 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions against the 'Cocks is tops, besting Rauch's game vs. Tech from nearly 70 years ago):
And, even entering the South Carolina game, Murray's career passer rating vs. the top 10 was second in Georgia history, only behind Stafford, and ahead of notables Greene, Bobo, and Zeier.
So, after the recent passing clinic he put on in Sanford Stadium, I think the idea that Murray doesn't play well against top 10 foes should be put to rest. Further, if the senior quarterback has another fine performance two weeks from this Saturday in the same stadium against a likely top-10 LSU team, maybe then the notion will be put to bed for good.
September 6, 2013
|Former starter John Lastinger came off the bench |
against the 'Cocks 30 years ago, paving the way
for an unforgettable finish to a senior year.
Now, check this out... Williams plays the entire first half and into the third quarter against the 'Cocks, and performs well, gaining 113 total offensive yards in 13 plays; however, Georgia is deadlocked 10-10 in a contest it entered as two-touchdown favorites. With the Bulldogs possessing the ball on the Gamecock 36-yard line, Williams suddenly goes down with a bruised thigh. Thereupon, Lastinger, the starter-turned-reserve, returns under center for Georgia.
On his first play since his dismal effort at Clemson, Lastinger connected with tight end Clarence Kay for 32 yards. Three plays later, he found Kay again for a 4-yard score, giving Georgia a touchdown lead. The next two times the Bulldogs had possession, Lastinger engineered touchdown drives, resulting in three touchdowns the first three times he had the ball after being benched for what amounted to nearly an entire game.
Playing less than half of Georgia's 31-13 victory, the fifth-year senior finished with an un-Lastinger-like 10 completions on 14 attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown, while adding 51 yards rushing and a touchdown on just three carries. Following the contest, Dooley stated, "I've never been prouder of an individual than I am of John Lastinger."
You can't help but feel somewhat sorry for Williams... He was never really the same after the South Carolina game of '83. After missing two entire games because of the injury, Williams returned to the bench. He would open his junior campaign as the Bulldogs' starting quarterback but would be sidelined again during the 1984 season with an injury -- on two occasions. By his fifth year, the one-time honorable mention national All-American in high school and starting Georgia quarterback as only a sophomore was the Bulldogs' third-stringer in 1986.
Lastinger, on the other hand, would never relinquish his starting role at Georgia after his memorable performance against the Gamecocks. And, just think, if Williams doesn't go down with a thigh bruise versus South Carolina, Lastinger likely doesn't lead Georgia to its epic 10-9 win over Florida later that season, or has one of the greatest moments in Bulldog history in the Cotton Bowl (Again, what time is it in Texas?).
As Cotton Bowl color analyst Pat Haden said, "This
September 4, 2013
|Since the start of his tenure, Richt's teams are|
the 2nd-most penalized in the entire SEC.
RICHT: 7.1 for 59.6
DONNAN: 5.8 for 44.9
GOFF: 6.6 for 55.1
DOOLEY: 5.0 for 44.4