To Be A Georgia Bulldog

We are accused of being endlessly optimistic. We are labeled as unreasonably proud, considering our lack of national championships during a decade when seemingly every SEC program has (at least) one of those crystal footballs. We are proclaimed as arrogant, normally with a remark that ‘yes, but (pick one: LSU, AL, AU, TENN, FLA) are worse.’ In a world where everyone can easily voice an opinion via the web, tweeterverse, blogging, and of course, countless forums and discussion forums, what is a Georgia Bulldog fan to do? Ignore them all, I say.

Our Strength Is Our Commitment
I used to marvel at my Mississippi State friends for their optimistic cow bell clanging. South Carolina fans (I have only one friend who is USC alum, and I keep his heritage secret…for his sake) were/are endlessly optimistic. Yet, as the years roll on, I realize that to be a Dawg is also to persevere…to endure…yes, to stay the course.  I believe (and I have wavered on this point) that we have the right coach, so long as his heart remains in the hunt.  I believe our teams play their hearts out.  I believe, and truthfully, I have no other choice.  We may view the summit of our goal…tantalizingly close yet blocked by Saban or Spurrier, but the true journey is the journey itself.  Each and every one of us, whether we speak of college football or life must stay the course.  We only lose when we quit.

To be a Georgia Bulldog is to keep climbing the mountain – keep knocking on the door.  I am so proud of these 2012 Georgia Bulldogs. They believed in themselves when nobody else did…and now?  Well…if you want more from this bunch of Dawgs, then you should fly a different flag, my friend.

Dawg Forever: 2012 SEC Championship – Georgia-Alabama

End of the road…for now.

Mythic Battle
By now, the ending is clear, 32-28 in favor of Alabama.  It seems every third article I read following the battle for the 2012 SEC Championship called it a ‘game for the ages’.  I am bound to agree, and what a wondrous, magical football game it was.  Right before the nation’s eyes, football played by the toughest conference was elevated for three four glorious hours into something mythic.  At the end, how could one not just stare wide-eyed at the gift bequeathed to football fans by the University of Georgia and University of Alabama football teams?  To describe the action is pointless…if you haven’t seen the game, go watch it.  If you have seen the game, then you know of what I speak firsthand.

Georgia/Alabama – Heart of a Lion
Whatever we say about one team must be said of the other.  Resilience. Character. Courage. Grace Under Pressure.  All this and more is referential, and of which team do we speak?  Both teams, of course.  Aaron Murray can win the big game…I always believed this, as it is clear Murray’s troubles are due to a young offensive line more than lack of heart or ability.  To describe Murray or Richt as ‘not. being. able. to. win. the. big. one.’ is unfair in a league as uncompromising as the SEC.  Do you believe Mark Richt has lost his passion?  Then consider that while you and I woke up Sunday to most likely recover from the previous evening’s affairs, Mark Richt and his coaching staff were visiting recruits…one day after the biggest game of the year.  Non-believers check out this AJC story on the subject of Mark Richt’s sunday.

I Remember 1980
I was fourteen the year Georgia last won a national championship.  All I recall of that game was Larry Munson’s gravelly voice and that I cried the day Georgia won against Notre Dame for the national championship.  From where those unexpected tears flowed I did not know, but after a lifetime, I suspect that I understood, even then, that life rarely follows the easy path. For a moment, the promises made by my elders were fulfilled, as I watched my favorite team win it all.

For the first time in thirty years, this past saturday I cried again (twice), sobs really.  I don’t know why I care so much, but I do.  The SEC is tradition and it is rivalry and it is in our roots, our heritage.  Did I shed these tears out of sorrow you may wonder.  Heartbreak perhaps?

No…those were tears of pride my friend.  Play like a champion.

Georgia vs Florida Football Classic – The History

The Bulldogs will have to fight for every yard.

Georgia Versus Florida for First Place in the SEC East
This Saturday afternoon promises to be a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, as the Georgia Bulldogs try to turn back the gridiron challenge of the undefeated Florida Gators. Florida is the number two ranked team in the Bowl Championship Series, and the Gators are arguably the hottest team in all of college football right now. Conversely, Georgia is coming off an uninspiring victory against the Kentucky Wildcats. On the bright side, the Bulldogs are once again in control of their fate in the SEC East after the Gators chomped on the South Carolina Gamecocks last weekend.

The Florida-Georgia Classic
The artist formerly known as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” underwent a name change in light of all the drunken debauchery that has taken place in Jacksonville over the years. There is no specific trophy given out to the winner of the game, but maybe a prize should be given to the university that has the least amount of students arrested.

The History of the Georgia-Florida Football Classic
The Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators have shared a mutual disdain on the football field for almost 100 years. The rivalry began in 1915, where it played out in a number of different locations in Georgia and Florida respectively. The game has been permanently held in Jacksonville since 1933, and has been contested there every year with the exception of ’94 and ’95 because of stadium remodeling.

Georgia needs to hit Florida hard to set the tone on Saturday.

The two universities cannot even be civil long enough to agree on a series record because Georgia counts a game contested in 1904, even though Florida argues they were not established as a university until 1906. Since we are a Georgia blog, we will stand by the Bulldogs’ claim of leading the overall series with a record of 48 wins, 40 losses, and two ties.

 1942: Widest Margin of Victory in the History of the Georgia-Florida Series
The most one-sided affair in the history of this match-up occurred way back in 1942. At the time, Georgia featured a supreme backfield of Frank Sinkwhich and Charley Trippi.  As for Florida, the Gators  lost the majority of their most experienced players that year because they were serving in World War II. Georgia dominated the game, mauling Florida by a final count of 75-0. Frank Sinkwhich captured the 1942 Heisman Trophy, and Charley Trippi is universally remembered as one of the best athletes in the history of Georgia football.

1964: Vince Dooley Brings Georgia Consistent Success in Clashes with Florida
Upon becoming the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs in 1964, Vince Dooley inherited a team that had lost ten out of its last twelve football games against the Florida Gators. At the beginning of his coaching tenure in Athens, Dooley was only able to achieve moderate success against the hated foes from Florida, as his record started with a pedestrian three wins, three losses, and one tie during his first eight seasons between the hedges. However, Coach Dooley found a way to change his fortune against UF, as the Bulldogs would feast on the Gators in 14 of the remaining 19 games that Vince Dooley was patrolling the sidelines.

1980: Georgia Wide Receiver Lindsay Scott Runs for His Life
The Georgia-Florida football game has produced some of the most unique moments in Georgia football history. 1980 in particular provided what is quite possibly the most unforgettable play-by-play in Georgia history, as incomparable Georgia announcer Larry Munson pleaded with Georgia wide receiver Lindsay Scott to keep running after then Bulldog quarterback Buck Belue completed a pass to Scott as the Dawgs were trailing by a point with 90 seconds left in the contest. The result saved Georgia’s season, as the Bulldogs prevailed by a final score of 26-21.



The meeting in 1980 also featured a superhuman effort from legendary Georgia running back Herschel Walker. Walker carried the ball 37 times during the game, for a whopping total of 287 yards, which may explain some of the reason that Lindsay Scott found himself so open on that fateful play.



1985: Georgia Strips the Gators of the Number One Rank in the Nation
One of the most satisfying aspects of defeating a bitter rival is crushing their championship aspirations en route to the triumph. This was precisely the case  when the Bulldogs met number one ranked Florida in in this chapter of the storied feud. In what is hopefully a sign of things to come, Georgia had two first freshman tailbacks (Tim Worley and Keith Henderson) carry the ball for over 100 yards in a 24-3 stunner over the previously unblemished Gators. The loss kept Florida out of national championship consideration, as they finished #5 in the Associated Press poll. (Note: The weather was rainy during that ball game. Does anybody know a good rain dance?)

1997: Georgia Finally Beats a Steve Spurrier Coached Football Team
As the Bulldogs began the 1997 season, Florida head coach Steve Spurrier had been torturing the Georgia Bulldogs since he started as the Florida Gators head football coach in 1990. This included an instance in 1995 when Spurrier’s Gators put 52 points on the scoreboard in Athens because Spurrier wanted to be the first visiting coach to accomplish that. Spurrier stated, “We heard no one had ever done that before.”

Steve Spurrier has never called a play he did not like.

When these two teams squared off in 1997, Bulldog Nation was desperate to shut the brash Gator coach up. Dawg fans finally had their day on November 1 of that year. Former Georgia quarterback and current offensive coordinator Mike Bobo led Georgia to a 37-17 win over Florida. According to Sports Illustrated, this game was Florida’s worst regular season loss in nearly five years. Even coach Spurrier had to admit that the better team won that day as he remarked,  “Mike Bobo had some good passes and they blocked better than we did. I don’t know what else to say except they were better than us.” 1997 was the only year that Georgia ever beat Steve Spurrier while he was the coach at Florida.

2007: Georgia’s Impromptu End Zone Celebration
When Florida and Georgia renewed their annual rivalry in 2007, the Bulldogs had just one victory over the Gators since 1997. Mark Richt and his pack of Dawgs had grown tired of being Gator bait, and Georgia was ravenous for anything that may change their luck in Jacksonville. When Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno scored a touchdown at the six minute mark of the first quarter to give the Bulldogs the lead, Bulldog Nation proceeded  to party like it was 1980. Thankfully, Georgia maintained their momentum and found a way to win the football game, because losing after all those shenanigans would have been embarrassing. (Celebration highlighted at the 2:12 mark.)



All Aboard the Mark Richt Mediocrity Express
The forthcoming battle with Florida will determine the fate of the 2012 Georgia Bulldog football team. Either the Dawgs will bite, scratch, and claw their way to a win, or Georgia will simply roll over as the Bulldogs take yet another signature loss, allowing the Gators to clinch the SEC East. Regardless of what happens for the rest of the regular season, this one game will define the legacy of this Georgia football team.

In order for the Bulldogs to be victorious, the Mark Richt mediocrity express must come to a screeching halt this Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville. If Georgia is able to pick up the victory, it will be the first time in over two decades that the Bulldogs earn consecutive wins over Florida.

Herschel Walker Debuts Against UT 1980 (Look at the Blocking)

Below is a wonderful video highlighting Herschel Walker in his debut against the Tennessee Volunteers in 1980.  Really well done, as I was thinking about Herschel after seeing him at the 2012 Tennessee game in Sanford Stadium.  Herschel was indeed impressive, but note the holes that open as the Georgia line pushes the UT defense around…a nice contrast to what happened in Columbia this past saturday night.

Georgia must have strong offensive line play.

Pre-Game Sights and Sounds: UGA-Tennessee 9/29/2012

Quick video collection of some of the pregame sights and sounds we saw prior to the UGA-Tennessee game. Tennessee band…UGA band marching, my wife Angela ringing the chapel bell (an incredible tradition we will write about another time) and some good old chanting. Also…Herschel Walker was on the field at the game…still huge and looks like he still does lots of pushups!

Thanks to Chris and Teresa Davis!

Georgia Traditions: Kick-off Barking

Admittedly I barked a little harder and louder when I was younger (and had most likely entered Sanford Stadium with a flask of a little something to “keep me warm”)…but in the right situation, kickoffs at UGA games still prickle the hairs on the back of my neck.  Many thanks to Chris and Teresa Davis for these amazing seats at Sanford Stadium!

 

 

Dawgs Stick Together: A New Era Begins with Russ…the New UGA.

Dear Russ,

I am a big yellow lab, and you may not know me (yet), but I have watched your story with interest (and a little drooling…I am a dog after all). Russ…on behalf of your canine pals everywhere in the great state of Georgia, I want to take this opportunity to let you know we are proud of your official swearing in tonight as the new UGA.

It has been a long road for you, and truthfully, you had to earn the right to be UGA. We watched as the humans argued and carried on, but finally…finally they did the right thing. Heart of a lion, face of a true dawg, I will look forward to watching you prowl the sidelines (or rest on a bag of ice) for years to come.

Whatever glory comes or doesn’t come for those guys chasing that strangely-shaped piece of leather all over the grass while all of those humans look on in a frenzy (or in mystification), all of your dog friends will celebrate for you.

The dawgs will bark in Georgia tonight…may you receive the game ball.

Your friend,

Chance

Georgia Bulldog Football – Pro Style Offense A Recruiting Asset.

Matthew Stafford threw for over 5,000 yards in 2011.

Players like Matthew Stafford do not come along very often. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper predicted that Stafford would be the first pick taken when he entered the NFL draft before Stafford even made his first start as a Georgia Bulldog. While Matthew Stafford’s father is a Georgia alum, Bulldog Nation possesses an X-factor that helps bring standout offensive players to Athens, the pro style offense.

Georgia’s offensive attack allows players to get a taste of what they will be expected to do if they make it to the NFL. The Bulldog offensive repertoire has helped springboard tremendous athletes such as Terrell Davis, Garrison Hurst, and the recently retired future NFL Hall Of Famer Hines Ward to playing on Sundays.

In an era of college football where fast paced, no-huddle offenses are en-vogue it is refreshing to see the University of Georgia staying with what brought them to the dance. While teams such as Oregon and Auburn have adopted a hurried approach to moving the football, Georgia rarely deviates from their playbook. Although when the Bulldogs do throw a curve ball it is usually effective. Such was the case last season, when defensive back Brandon Boykin scored Georgia’s first touchdown of 2011 on a 70 yard touchdown run.

With national signing day growing in spectator popularity each year there is more emphasis on where a particular athlete chooses to play college football than ever before. Quarterbacks who choose to come to the University of Georgia know they are likely to learn a system similar to what they could end up running if the NFL comes calling. Georgia is currently loaded at the signal caller position with starter Aaron Murry, while Hutson Mason, and Christian LeMay compete for the back-up role. Hutson Mason plans to redshirt in 2012, in hopes of having the opportunity to run the Georgia Bulldog ship when Aaron Murray’s UGA football career comes to a close.

Ultimately Georgia runs a pro style offense because it is what gives them the best chance to win. The Bulldogs are looking to get to the top of the Southeastern Conference, and the obvious way to do that is to be better than the competition. The pro style offense helps entice high profile recruits to enroll at UGA because they know that being successful in Athens will likely translate to a successful football career long after their Dawg days are over.

Maddawg’s Play of The Day College Football Week 9 – (October 30, 2011)

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Georgia's Defense Mauled the Gators

Week nine of the 2011 college football season yielded jubilation in Jacksonville for Georgia Bulldog Nation. At times the game was bowling shoe ugly, but, in the end the Dawgs dropped the Gators by a final score of 24-20. Georgia has won six games in a row, while Florida is left to pick up the pieces having lost four straight. However, there won’t even be a crocodile tear shed here.

The latest chapter in the “Florida vs Georgia Football Classic” was not about a singular moment or key play. Ultimately, It was about a Georgia football team and their fan base being desperate for redemption after almost two full decades of torture from a despised rival. In the post-game interview on CBS, Georgia head coach Mark Richt echoed that sentiment when he said that he was not thinking about the SEC East at the moment, he just wanted to enjoy the win with his football team.

Georgia was far from perfect in victory, but the Bulldogs answered the bell at every key moment. On the first play from scrimmage, the Dawgs chased down Jeff Demps and prevent him from scoring on a 72 yard screen pass. As a result of their effort, Georgia was able to force Florida kicker Brad Philips into a 38 yard field goal try that he missed.

In the second quarter the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves in desperation mode. The Dawgs were down 17-3 and needed a score to help the dwindling morale of players and fans alike. On fourth down with five yards to go, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit wide receiver Michael Bennett with a 20 yard touchdown pass that gave Bulldog Nation hope. Georgia headed into halftime trailing only 17-10.

Turnovers sealed Georgia’s fate in the previous visit to Jacksonville, but, this year it was Florida’s turn to fumble their lead away. Gator receiver Frankie Hammond coughed up the football on the Florida 18 yard line and the Bulldogs were there to pounce on the gift. It took all four downs, but, Aaron Murray found wide receiver Tavarres King with a 14 yard touchdown pass on fourth down to tie the game and send Bulldog Nation into a frenzy.

With Georgia trailing 20-17 entering the final frame, the game began to resemble that of a heavyweight title fight in the late rounds. Both teams were battered and each was trying to land a decisive blow. To the delight of Dawg fans, the knockout punch came in the form of Richard Samuel, embattled running back who had struggled to identify his role on the team.

Richard Samuel took it upon himself to do his part in helping the Georgia offense as he ran through tackles, and, pounded the tired Gator defense into submission. After a pass interference penalty kept a Georgia drive alive early in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs rode on the back of Samuel as he scored on a four yard touchdown run. Georgia Bulldogs 24, Gators 20.

Georgia denied Florida’s attempts to take back the lead as they were determined to leave Jacksonville, Florida on a high note. When Georgia got the football back with 5:32 left to go in the game the Bulldogs knew they could not give the Gators another opportunity. Following a surprising 18 yard throw to wide out Chris Conely, Georgia was poised to run out the clock.

Georgia’s season defining battle with Florida had some of the key elements of Bulldog success that have been highlighted by this blog. Mark Richt made two gutsy fourth down calls that led to euphoria, Georgia executed a textbook drive before halftime that gave them momentum, but, there is apparently something wrong with kicker Blair Walsh.

Maddawg’s Play Of The Day belongs to Richard Samuel. It is dedicated to every member of Bulldog Nation that believed Georgia would turn their Jacksonville fortune around. For those that stand by Mark Richt for as long as he is our football coach, yesterday was a small measure of vindication. If we can get a little help from the Razorbacks, or even the Gators, maybe the Georgia Bulldogs can shock the college football world by taming the LSU Tigers, or turning back the Alabama Crimson Tide.



What is Wrong with UGA kicker Blair Walsh? (Nothing)

Much is being made of Blair Walsh’s early season troubles.  In the 2011 Georgia-Ole Miss game Walsh missed three field goals (of which if he had made just a couple, colleague Scott Davis would have been almost money on his prediction of the final outcome of the 2011 Georgia-Ole Miss game).  Two of the field goals Blair Walsh missed were from 48 yards, and while it is true UGA’s Walsh is a tremendous kicker, we need to refrain from assuming 48 yard field goals are anywhere close to automatic (even for a kicker of Walsh’s stature).

The incomparable Larry Munson calls THE KICK in UGA history (100,000 miles).



It is true that considering Walsh’s track record, it is more than reasonable to expect better performance even from 50+ yards, but lever-actioned mechanical sports (such as golf and placekicking) require a relatively complex set of motions that must follow in the proper sequence.  If one of those sequences is out of whack, things can go south in a hurry.

The wonder for me is not that Blair Walsh misses a kick or two, but that any kicker can be as deadly accurate over time as Mr. Walsh has been.  I fully believe that Walsh will return to form in the coming weeks as the fundamentals of his craft are tweaked and reviewed.