Time for some fun.
If you could pick and choose from throughout the ages, who’d be in your all-time Bulldogs dream backfield? Would you try to get Trippi or Sinkwich in there with Herschel? Who’d play fullback? Quarterback?
For some unknown reason, I woke up with that question in my head the other day (beats worrying about the economy), so I put it to my brothers and a few other friends.
Particularly at running back, there’s an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. Besides the obvious No. 34, fellow Heisman winner Frank Sinkwich and his 1942 backfield mate Charley Trippi, there’s Willie McClendon, Musa Smith, Garrison Hearst, Kevin McLee, Jimmy Poulos, Rodney Hampton, Lars Tate, Terrell Davis, Glynn Harrison, Robert Edwards, Tim Worley and the recently departed Knowshon Moreno, just to rattle off a few.
Stellar fullbacks available include Bill Hartman (daddy of the former TV sports anchor, longtime assistant coach and Bulldog Club scholarship fund namesake), Theron Sapp (the famed “Drought Breaker” and the fourth player to have his jersey number retired, along with Herschel Walker, Sinkwich and Trippi), Ronnie “Bull” Jenkins, Brad Johnson, Keith Henderson, Mack Strong, Verron Haynes and recent Dog Brannan Southerland.
Then there are the wingbacks, flankers and others playing a position that is now more receiver but originally was one of the halfbacks, including the great Jimmy Orr, Horace King, Gene Washington, Andre Hastings, Brice Hunter, Hines Ward (who was technically a split end after playing tailback and quarterback but often lined up in the slot and still sometimes ran the ball), Terrence Edwards (who went back and forth from split end to flanker), Mohamed Massaquoi (likewise) and current star flanker A.J. Green.
Quarterbacks? Again, lots to choose from, depending on whether you want primarily a running attack (a natural inclination with those tailbacks), a passing attack or something more balanced like Mark Richt employs. Among your many choices: Johnny Rauch, Zeke Bratkowski, Fran Tarkenton, Larry Rakestraw, Andy Johnson, Matt Robinson, Ray Goff, Buck Belue, Eric Zeier, Mike Bobo, David Greene, D.J. Shockley and Maria Sharapova’s fave, Matthew Stafford.
So, who to choose?
My brother Jonathan, a true believer in the running game, said he would “run the wishbone with Herschel, Knowshon and Verron Haynes.”
My other brother, Tim, who thinks outside the box, would go back to the future by running the old wing-T offense (precursor to today’s “wildcat”) with Sinkwich taking the snaps at tailback (technically the quarterback was mostly used for blocking in that offense), Herschel at the other running back position and Trippi or Moreno at wingback. This actually would be a pretty balanced offense since “Flatfoot Frankie” threw for 2,331 yards and rushed for 2,271 yards during his three-year career, scoring 60 touchdowns — 30 rushing and 30 passing. Tim says if he needed a blocking fullback, he’d use the junior-year Southerland, and if Sinkwich were in a passing mode, “I’d have him throw to Hines and A.J.”
Tim’s buddy Van would run a more traditional Dooley-style offense with Herschel at tailback, “Pulpwood” Smith at fullback and Poulos as the other running back. His QB would be Andy Johnson, backed by David Greene.
My high school classmate Johnny, who actually favors defensive players, limited his choices to those he saw play but couldn’t limit himself to just four backs in his backfield. Among his choices: tailbacks Glynn Harrison (”when he was given the ball, Gliding Glynn did more with it than most other running backs at UGA”) and Garrison Hearst (”work horse with results”); fullbacks Ronnie Stewart from the 1981 team (”who do you think opened up those holes?”), Keith Henderson, Haynes and Southerland; and among his quarterbacks was his “personal favorite,” Andy Johnson (one of our Athens High School classmates). Moreno, Johnny said, “left the Dawgs too early to make the dream team.”
OK, now to my own dream backfield.
I’d alternate between the I-formation and more or less a pro set and, of course, Herschel would be a given at tailback. To spell him, I’d have Garrison Hearst, who ranks right behind Herschel in most of the Dogs’ rushing records. Just for fun, occasionally I’d load the backfield with both of them. My change-of-pace back would be the 5-10, 185-pound Sinkwich (especially good for halfback passes) or the 6-0, 186-pound Trippi. With the size of defensive players these days, I’d want to try to get them the ball in open space. My fullback would be Mack Strong, with Verron Haynes spelling him and giving me another running threat. And I’d have Hines Ward and Jimmy Orr rotating as my flankers. I’d cheat a bit by adopting the old Dooley two-quarterback system, with Andy Johnson directing my running attack and either Tarkenton or Greene chunking the seed, as my pal Carl used to say.
I think we’d score a lot of points.
Your turn. …