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September 25, 2013

More Than Just A Pretty Face(Mask)

As we're all aware, one of the leading stories for the Bulldogs this early season has been the emergence of sophomore fullback Quayvon Hicks his powerful running, pass-catching prowess, punishing blocking and, perhaps the most distinguishable feature of the fan favorite, his predator-like facemask.  Although similar varieties are worn around college football, Hicks' unusual facemask has been the only one of its kind at Georgia, ever.  
A year or so ago, I compiled the UGA Football Helmet Project an ongoing display of every kind of helmet worn by the Bulldogs, and every featured decal in their history.  While undergoing this project, I came across some rather unique facemasks donned by a number of Bulldogs of old a few you could say are as notable as Quayvon's full-cage mask.  Therefore, I have assembled my top five pre-Quayvon Georgia facemasks of all time. 
Whereas Hicks has indicated he believes his particular mask looks "kind of intimidating," the appearances of my top five, plus an honorable mention, seem nearly as unusual, I acknowledge, as someone actually taking the time to rank a program's all-time facemasks.  Regardless, without further adieu...
#5  CRUMLEY'S EXTENDED TWO-BAR: When placekicker and Athens-native Steve Crumley came to UGA in 1985, he arrived with an uncommon kicking style, plus a facemask preference for a variation of an old stand-by.  Crumley, the school's first primary placekicker to kick straight on in 13 years, elected to go with a tight two-bar mask a common protector amongst UGA players during the 1960s and 1970s, and fitting for a kicker.  However, no Bulldog had ever wore a mask quite like this as Crumley's two bars seemingly extended out five feet from his face.  After 46 career field goals the third-most in school history at the time Crumley departed Georgia following the 1988 season; his kicking style  and mile-long mask having never been seen in Athens since.   
#4  THE IRON MASK: He was Georgia's first pure drop-back passing quarterback; his 38 career wins as a starting signal caller stood as an NCAA record for 30 years; he rushed for 16 touchdowns, scored three receiving, and even intercepted a then-UGA-record 13 career passes playing defense; yet, Johnny Rauch broke his cheek bone during his sophomore season, of all things, while returning a kickoff.  For five entire games in 1946, Rauch was equipped with a mask made of spring steel covered in leather to protect his injury.  During this time, the media dubbed him "The Man in the Iron Mask," or since Rauch would often play nearly all, if not the entire 60 minutes of a ballgame, the "Iron Man in the Iron Mask."
#3  ONE-BAR MASK: Introduced during the early-1950s, the simple one-bar facemask was essentially the first mask to be widely worn by the Bulldogs.  Primarily skilled-positioned players donned the one-bar until around the mid-1960s when it was mostly reserved for placekickers and punters.  Joey Hester (1986-1989) was the last Bulldog punter to wear the one-bar, and finally in 1990, the mask made its last appearance on a Georgia gridiron by All-SEC placekicker and eventually the NFL's all-time leading scorer, John Kasay (photo).  
#2  O'MALLEY'S NOSE MASHER: While some of his teammates are sporting the one-bar mask during the 1954 season, senior end Joe O'Malley introduces some sort of nose guard/mask for protection.  Whether it was protecting an injured nose, or worn to keep O'Malley from injury, the nose protector evidently did the overall team captain some good.  Known as a defensive terror, and one having a knack to block kicks, O'Malley suddenly becomes a pass-receiving threat as well while wearing the mask.  The Scranton, Pa. native ends his UGA career earning All-SEC recognition for the second time in three seasons.
#1  THE VERY FIRST?: Fullback Louis Woodruff was never in the limelight as a member of the Georgia varsity (1939-1941).  Back when one had to see significant playing time to even earn a letter, Woodruff never lettered while at Georgia, although he was instrumental in a win over The Citadel in the 1939 season opener.  In 1941, Woodruff entered his senior campaign as merely Georgia's third-string fullback (out of the team's three at the position).  However, through all the archives I've searched, it appears then while posing for preseason photos and although the mask is attached to a dark, practice helmet or one worn in games prior to 1941 (Georgia first donned silver helmets that season), Woodruff evidently unveils the first standard facemask in UGA football history.  And, wouldn't it make sense for the very first mask to rank first on this list?  
Honorable Mention:  THE CAGE: Frank Sinkwich broke his jaw during the second game of the 1941 season against South Carolina following a 50-yard run when the Gamecocks committed unnecessary roughness on the All-American halfback.  Despite his jaw wired shut and unable to breathe freely, Sinkwich refuses to be sidelined.  He also refuses to wear the pictured eyesore made of steel, which was laced up in the back, specifically designed for the Georgia star.  Instead, for the remainder of the season, Sinkwich would wear a simple chin strap of metal, covered in leather.  Described as a "cage," making Sinkwich appear as a "creature from another world," the metal contraption was interestingly not worn by the eventual Heisman Trophy winner because of its appearance, but because Sinkwich "couldn't see through the bars so well."

September 20, 2013

Don't Get Caught Looking Ahead

Even the great Junkyard Dogs struggled
against the itsy bitsy Spiders in 1975.
On the eve of Georgia's game against 33-point underdog North Texas, and with an all-important meeting with LSU looming, I thought it would be appropriate to post a historical lesson of sorts: to not overlook the opposition, no matter how inferior it appears, or how much more imperative the following week's contest may seem.

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.  
Once again, having to take the field was the Junkyard Dogs a defensive unit which had entered the season given little chance as a small, inexperienced group, but was instantly transformed into a feisty band of Bulldogs with a bend-but-don't-break philosophy.  Still, Richmond appeared to have discovered the remedy to finally break that defense; hence, no Georgia lead was safe.  However, on the Spiders' final three offensive possessions, the Junkyards stepped up, allowing Richmond only 10 combined yards after yielding 350 prior to the final quarter.  The Spiders final threat ended at their own 28-yard line with lineman Jeff Sanders batting down a fourth-down pass to preserve a 28-24 win for Georgia a difference of merely four points in a game that was supposed to end with at least a four-touchdown margin.

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.  
After what nearly resulted in the biggest upset loss in UGA history, life went on with the Bulldog football program as normal, or as expected:  Dooley's Junkyard Dogs became a huge hit within days of its release, while despite a near-uprising from some students, Dixie rightfully remained excluded from the Redcoats' play list.  The following Saturday, thanks to a miracle and the Junkyard Dogs, Georgia defeated Florida, which was normal, and expected back then, as well.  And, a defensive assistant coach still had his job.

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

Top Dawg #75

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.
As many of you are likely aware, Scott Adams passed away suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday in Oconee County.  The former standout UGA offensive lineman was just 46 years old and leaves behind wife Tishara and a young daughter, Dyllan.
When I think of Adams, I first recall how instrumental he was in paving the way for some of the best Bulldog backs of all time.  The Lake City, Florida native started 24 regular-season games over three seasons (1986-1988) and at three different positions 16 starts at left tackle, six at right guard, and two at right tackle, while opening holes for 1,000-yard career rushers Lars Tate, Rodney Hampton, Tim Worley, Keith Henderson, Larry Ware, James Jackson, and David McCluskey.  Standing at 6-foot-6, Adams was also always one of the taller Bulldogs on the team, if not the tallest.
Entering his final collegiate campaign, Adams was one of just five Bulldogs elected by his peers to serve on the team's "seniors committee."  The team leader responded by earning All-SEC honors for the 1988 season.
After a stint in the World Football League, the undrafted Adams made the Minnesota Vikings team in 1992 as a 26-year-old NFL rookie; he was starting for the Vikings the very next season at right guard.  Adams saw playing time in the league with New Orleans, Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta through the 1997 season.
I also knew of Scott Adams, who worked in the mortgage business while living in Watkinsville, because of his involvement in the local community.  However, I didn't know him never even met the man.  Therefore, I felt compelled to reach out to someone who did, and contacted one of the great Bulldogs backs Adams once blocked for and knew well Tim Worley, an All-American tailback in 1988.
"Scott Adams was a versatile warrior," Tim told me.  "He could play any position on the offensive line.  Scott was a major contributor to my success as an All-American running back at Georgia.  Without Scott and the offensive line that I ran behind at UGA, I could have never accomplished what I was able to accomplish.  Scott was also just an awesome human being that people loved to be around.  He was full of life, full of energy, always revved up in the huddle and whenever you saw him, you were ready to play.  Scott was also one of the most talkative lineman I've ever played with on the field.  And, he backed up what he talked.  But the most important thing about Scott is that he was a man of God.  I love you Scott.  You will be missed.  Top Dawg #75."
In searching for old articles on Adams, I discovered one that especially grabbed my attention.  In 1995, the city of Athens hosted a benefit for the American Cancer Society for those living with the disease.  And, even though he was playing in Chicago with the Bears at the time, Adams, whose father had died of cancer, was an integral part of the event.
Adams had experienced firsthand what the terrible disease does to its victim and family.  "We just wanted to do something to raise some money for the families," Adams had simply stated.
Scott Adams will be missed dearly by those close to him, and even by those who didn't even know him.  However, I have a feeling there were plenty of those anxiously awaiting his arrival in the next life, including a father he hadn't seen in decades.  Adams was the epitome of a true "Top Dawg," whether on the gridiron, or off it. 

September 13, 2013

Murray's Woes Against Top 10 Foes?

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. 
You can finally put that notion to rest, at least, in comparison to Bulldog signal callers of yesteryear.
As we are all fully aware, prior to last Saturday's South Carolina game, there had been much discussion about Aaron Murray's failure to perform well in, and win, the "big game."  Entering the 2012 season, I had even questioned if Murray was a "gamer."  However, I found it amusing when his "lowly" record against highly ranked opponents was the sole focus of fans and the media.  As a caller to a radio show declared only a couple of days ago, "Even after beating South Carolina, [Murray] is still just 2-6 against top 10 opponents!"
Caller, here's a little secret...  Historically speaking regarding UGA football, a 2-6 record against top 10 opponents actually ain't too shabby; even Murray's 1-6 mark entering the game versus the Gamecocks wasn't all that terrible as some proclaimed.  For instance, quarterbacks Mike Cavan, Andy Johnson, and James Jackson arguably, Georgia's top three quarterbacks from the period stretching from the late-60s through the decade of the 1980s were a combined 1-7 versus top 10 opponents.  In addition, Eric Zeier never was Georgia's starting quarterback in a win over a top 10 opponent, while Quincy Carter won just once in six tries.  However, I don't seem to recall any of the aforementioned quarterbacks ever being called out by fans or the media for not winning the big game, or against a highly ranked opponent.

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:

.500 - Matthew Stafford (3-3 starting record vs. top 10 opponents)
.400 - David Greene (2-3)
.250 - Aaron Murray (2-6)
.200 - Mike Bobo (1-4)
.167 - Quincy Carter (1-5)
.083 - Eric Zeier (0-5-1)
.000 - Zeke Bratkowski (0-6)

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):      
244.2 - AARON MURRAY vs. #6 S. Carolina, 2013 (17-23, 309 yds, 4-0)
231.2 - Johnny Rauch vs. #7 Georgia Tech, 1946 (9-11, 117 yds, 2-0)
206.3 - Matthew Stafford vs. #9 Florida, 2007 (11-18, 217 yds, 3-1)
183.4 - D.J. Shockley vs. #3 LSU, 2005 (6-12, 112 yds, 2-0)
178.5 - Matthew Stafford vs. #5 Auburn, 2006 (14-20, 219 yds, 1-0)
177.4 - Quincy Carter vs. #6 LSU, 1998 (27-34, 318 yds, 2-0)
170.8 - Aaron Murray vs. #2 Auburn, 2010 (15-28, 273 yds, 3-0)*
158.1 - James Jackson vs. #7 LSU, 1987 (8-17, 170 yds, 2-1)* 
155.6 - Aaron Murray vs. #8 Clemson, 2013 (20-29, 323 yds, 0-1)*
150.2 - David Greene vs. #6 Tennessee, 2001 (21-34, 303 yds, 2-1)
* Georgia lost game
Murray's spectacular performance Saturday boosted his career passing efficiency against top 10 teams to the top of the seven Georgia quarterbacks with at least five starts versus the highly ranked.  The top five by passer rating: 
126.6 - Aaron Murray (8 games/8 starts vs. top 10)
124.5 - Matthew Stafford (6/6)
113.2 - David Greene (5/5)
112.4 - Mike Bobo (5/5)
111.6 - Eric Zeier (7/6)

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

A Tough, but Right Decision

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.
After the Clemson loss, I posted on my Facebook author page a photo of Georgia's Mike "Jumbo" Weaver, without a helmet, chasing South Carolina quarterback Allen Mitchell during the Bulldogs' 31-13 win over the Gamecocks in 1983.  Similarly to the present, the Dogs were coming off an unsatisfactory performance at Clemson back then with a senior quarterback some folks were starting to question.  (By the way, if you haven't done so already, please visit and "LIKE" my author page.  As you'll notice, I'm lacking in the "LIKE" department.)
I received a couple of emails from visitors, asking what senior quarterback some folks were starting to question was I speaking of...  Thirty years later and on the eve of Georgia-South Carolina, I thought it would be appropriate to post about one of the most ironic twists of fate in UGA football history.
He wasn't flashy and his numbers could be downright dreadful, but if quarterback John Lastinger could do anything, it was simply win.  However, in games against UCLA and Clemson to start the 1983 season, Lastinger was not only a combined 7 of 18 passing for just 68 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, but the Bulldogs had just endured their first regular-season "non-win" in two entire years, as well. 
Late in the third quarter against the Tigers and with Georgia trailing 16-6, Coach Dooley benched his starting quarterback for sophomore Todd Williams.  Rallying the Bulldogs for the 16-16 draw, Williams passed for 169 yards, 157 of which were in the fourth quarter alone.  Back then under Dooley's three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense, 169 yards passing in a game got one's attention; 157 yards passing in merely a single quarter was unthinkable.
"The Monday morning after Clemson, I met with Coach Dooley and he said that if I wanted to start the next game against South Carolina, he’d start me — I had earned that right – but he wanted to discuss it first," Lastinger informed me for my latest book.  "Thinking of the team first and the fact that we needed to start rolling offensively, Coach Dooley and I decided together that Todd should start.  It was a tough decision for me to make, but the right decision."
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 Georgia team has character, and nobody has more of it than John Lastinger; he is going to find a way for his team to win."  It was a win perhaps only made possible more than three months before when a head coach and his starting quarterback made the tough, but right decision for the signal caller to go from starter to reserve.

September 4, 2013

Flag on the Richt Regime

Since the start of his tenure, Richt's teams are
the 2nd-most penalized in the entire SEC.  
Glancing over the reviews of Georgia's  disappointing performance at Clemson, a quote from Aaron Murray got my attention on Sunday: "Our biggest challenge was dealing with the crowd noise and penalties. We killed ourselves with penalties tonight."
I concur about the crowd noise; they might as well call that place Deaf Valley.  Attending my first game at Memorial Stadium, sitting right smack in the middle of the orange-clad Tiger faithful, I don't think I've ever been to a louder venue in my life, and I'm including all the concerts I've seen.  A few days later, I swear I still have a ringing in my ears. 
As far as Georgia's penalties, our quarterback is right on those, which totaled 9 for 84 yards, did "kill" the team and could be considered as perhaps the Bulldogs' biggest detriment Saturday night.  Still, is an abundance of flags thrown on Georgia, particularly in a big game, really all that surprising to those of us who have followed this program for some time?  Against Clemson, the penalties were definitely a "challenge," as Murray mentioned, but they're a challenge the Bulldogs have faced many times too many times, in fact  during the Coach Richt regime.
Starting with the Vince Dooley era, I figured the per-game average number of penalties committed (for the number of yards) by Georgia during the tenures of each of the last four head coaches:

RICHT:     7.1 for 59.6
DONNAN:  5.8 for 44.9
GOFF:      6.6 for 55.1
DOOLEY:  5.0 for 44.4

Now, one could certainly argue that comparing penalty statistics, or any football statistic for that matter, from decades ago to today is like apples and oranges.  However, from what I've observed in the past, penalty trends over the last 10, 20, and even 50 years have actually changed little in college football.  In fact, there's some evidence that penalties were actually committed a little more frequently on the whole in the sport back in Dooley's day than since Richt has been at the helm. 
What cannot be argued is that as soon as Richt took over following the Donnan years, Georgia started winning more that's what's most important  but, in the process, the Dawgs promptly began committing more penalties than before.  Regardless, what better way to compare Richt's teams than with their "peers" during the exact same period of time.  Beginning with the 2001 season through the first week of 2013, the most penalized I-A/FBS teams:
 1) FLORIDA: 7.9 for 61.4
 2) OREGON STATE: 7.75 for 70.7
 3) TEXAS TECH: 7.73 for 68.3
 4) SOUTH FLORIDA: 7.71 for 64.6
 5) FLORIDA STATE: 7.64 for 66.7
 6) MIAMI (FL): 7.63 for 63.3
19) GEORGIA: 7.1 for 59.6
Over the past 12+ seasons, Georgia's 7.1 penalties per game are the 19th-most of all FBS teams, ranking approximately in the top 15 percentile in the nation.  The 7.1 penalties are also the 2nd-highest of all current SEC members, trailing only the most-penalized Florida Gators, while Texas A&M (24th in FBS), LSU (27th), and Arkansas (41st) round out the most-penalized conference members.  Interestingly, four of the top six most-penalized teams in the FBS are located in the state of Florida, while three of the top four least penalized teams are the military institutions Navy, Air Force, and Army.  The least penalized SEC team since the start of the 2001 season is Vanderbilt, which is the 10th-least penalized in the entire FBS.
After once being perceived as a disciplined program under Coach Dooley has Georgia actually become a program lacking discipline with Richt as head coach?  Based on the number of flags that have been thrown on the Bulldogs the last dozen seasons, and this trend has evidently continued with the start of the 2013 campaign, to some degree, I would think so.