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November 9, 2009

Below Ground Zero

On Saturday against Tennessee Tech, for only the eighth time in Bulldog history and for the first time since the 2008 Sugar Bowl against Hawaii (Photo: Rebecca Hay of GeorgiaDogs.com), Georgia yielded minus yards rushing in a single game.

I was generally pleased with Georgia's 38-0 showing on Saturday against Tennessee Tech despite, once again, the Bulldogs' proneness to penalties and inability to force turnovers. 

For the third time this season, the Bulldogs did not gain a single turnover; in all nine games this year, Georgia has forced zero or just one turnover.  Also, with their 11 penalties against Tennessee Tech, the Bulldogs have been penalized nine or more times in 15 of their last 27 games.

However, the Dogs had their best rushing outing in 31 games (2007 vs. Ole Miss), gaining 304 yards and averaging nearly eight yards per carry.  More impressively, Georgia allowed the Golden Eagles just 55 yards of total offense, including minus-13 on the ground.

Granted, these totals came against Tennessee Tech, an FCS squad who had minus-19 yards rushing against Kansas State earlier this season.  Nevertheless, I don't care who one plays; rushing for over 300 yards, 198 of those by halftime, and allowing negative yards rushing and just 55 total, is mighty impressive.

Despite what you might have read (record-low 39 yards by The Citadel in 1953--a mistake in UGA's official football records--Georgia did not even play The Citadel in 1953), Tennessee Tech's 55 total yards was the least amount against a Georgia defense since yielding 39 to The Citadel in 1958

In a 76-0 victory over The Citadel in '58, the Bulldogs had 520 total yards of offense, including more than 300 rushing, while allowing minus-20 on the ground.  Including Saturday's game, it was the second of only eight known occasions in Georgia's "modern history" (since 1940) an opponent was held to minus yards rushing:
-50 yards (24 att.)- Kentucky, 1999
-49 yards (22 att.)- V.M.I., 1967
-23 yards (31 att.)- South Carolina, 1971
-20 yards (n/a att.)- The Citadel, 1958
-13 yards (31 att.)- Tennessee Tech, 2009
-10 yards (36 att.)- Texas Christian, 1980
- 7 yards (n/a att.)- Oglethorpe, 1940
- 5 yards (18 att.)- Hawaii, 2008 Sugar Bowl
Interestingly, when Georgia has held an opponent to negative yards rushing, besides the 2008 Sugar Bowl, its offense has rushed for more than 265 yards.  In five of the eight games listed above, the Bulldogs' offense rushed for 300 yards or more.

The three non-300+ rushing games include 267 rushing yards against Kentucky in '99 on just 42 carries.  The 49-34 win over the Wildcats was especially memorable because of the play of true freshman Charles Grant.  The defensive end recorded seven tackles, five for loss, and three of Georgia's school-record 11 sacks.  He also saw time on offense, rushing for 44 yards on three carries and two touchdowns.

Against Oglethorpe in the season opener of 1940, Georgia was led by a pair of sophomore backs in a 53-0 victory.  In front of 12,500 spectators at Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Park, "Long" Jim Todd and Lamar "Racehorse" Davis paced the Bulldogs to 296 team rushing yards. 

Let me add, Georgia's defense, while allowing minus-seven yards rushing, also did not allow the Petrels to complete a pass.  Georgia's minus-seven yards of total defense against Oglethorpe in '40 unofficially ranks as the second-best in SEC history.

Georgia's "minus-yards rushing allowed/300+ yards rushing gained" games include a 56-6 victory over the Virginia Military Institute in 1967.  The Bulldogs yielded minus-49 yards to V.M.I. and only 112 total, 73 of which came on a single pass play.  On offense, seven Georgia players rushed for 35 yards or more, including three quarterbacks--Kirby Moore, Paul Gilbert, and Donnie Hampton, for a team total of 371.

In a 24-0 win at South Carolina in 1971, quarterback James Ray, "the best second-string quarterback in America," according to Vince Dooley, replaced starter and sophomore sensation Andy Johnson late in the first quarter when Johnson suffered a thigh injury. 

Playing in his hometown of Columbia, SC, Ray rushed for 151 yards (the most by a Bulldog in 20 years), including runs of 84 and 56 while leading Georgia's ground game to 346 yards.  The defense not only gave up minus yards rushing to the Gamecocks but recorded its third consecutive shutout and fourth in six games.

One of Georgia's best performances by its rushing defense in  the modern era was by the team with its best final record in history.  Georgia's 34-3 victory over TCU in 1980 featured a defense that allowed only 99 total yards--led by senior defensive end Pat McShea, who had five tackles for loss, broke up three passes, and recovered a Horned Frog fumble.  In addition, despite a first-quarter injury to freshman phenom Herschel Walker, Georgia offensively rolled up 334 yards rushing. 

In 36 games at Georgia, Walker's 69 yards on nine carries against TCU was only one of four games during his collegiate career Herschel did not solely lead the team in rushing.  Can anyone name the other three?  Maybe that's another post for another day. 


Anonymous said...

is it Clemson 82, Tennessee 80, Ole Miss 80?

Patrick Garbin said...

The 4 games of 36 Herschel did not lead Georgia in rushing:

1980 TCU (Barry Young led team)
1980 Ole Miss (Carnie Norris)
1980 Auburn (Norris, Buck Belue, AND Herschel each had 77 rushing yards)
1982 Clemson (Young)

*Also, in 29 of his 36 games, Herschel led both Georgia AND its opponent in rushing.