Can 2011 Dogs pull a ‘Junkyard Dogs’ rebound?

Can the 2011 team emulate Erk Russell's Junkyard Dogs? (University of Georgia)

Can the 2011 team emulate Erk Russell's Junkyard Dogs? (University of Georgia)

We all know Georgia looked pretty bad against Central Florida in last week’s Liberty Bowl, giving the Dogs their first losing season in 14 years. But was it a loss of historic proportions?

My friend Mike thinks so. He e-mailed me the day after the game. Said Mike:

“My worst 4 losses:

Wake Forest ’79

33-0 to Kentucky in ’77

’78 Bluebonnet

This one.”

Admittedly, all those games were stinkers. But I told Mike I thought the 1974 Bulldogs’ 21-10 loss to Miami of Ohio in the Tangerine Bowl was worse than this year’s Liberty Bowl. The Dogs were coming off an absolutely humiliating 34-14 loss to Tech on a miserable cold, rainy day in Sanford Stadium when Georgia seemed helpless against Pepper Rodgers’ wishbone attack. At 6-5 most observers felt UGA really didn’t belong in a bowl game. (This was back in the days when you didn’t have more than half the teams in the country participating in bowls.)

And the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando — long before it morphed into the Citrus Bowl and then the Capitol One Bowl — was about as low as you could get and still be a bowl team. Originally reserved for small colleges like East Texas State and Kent State, it had only the year before started matching the second-tier Mid-American Conference Champion against an SEC also-ran.

But Georgia accepted the bid and before a crowd of about 20,000 proceeded to give the Redskins two easy scoring opportunities with fumbles (including one on the first play from scrimmage). Miami led 21-3 at the half and I couldn’t take any more, so my future wife and I spent the second half drowning our sorrows at T.K. Harty’s Saloon in Athens. The Dogs actually played better in that half, shutting out Miami and scoring a Ray Goff touchdown for a 21-10 final. But losing to Miami of Ohio in the low-rent Tangerine Bowl was a pretty sorry way to cap off a mediocre 6-6 season.

Of course, things got better after that, as Vince Dooley re-emphasized fundamentals, put the Dogs through a punishing spring practice, and Erk Russell recast his defense as the “Junkyard Dogs” and got the Redcoat Band on board, playing the Jim Croce song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” from which the phrase came.

Georgia turned things around in 1975 with a 9-3 season, as Loran Smith pointed out in a column this week drawing a comparison with the losing season just completed.

“Sometimes it is difficult to ferret out the issues with a team that finds a way to lose,” Smith wrote. “This current Georgia team had that in common with the 1974 Bulldogs. Teams lose their edge, their killer instincts, but they can regain those intangibles.”

Dooley’s Dogs were able to do that by embracing hard-nosed football; it remains to be seen whether Mark Richt can pull off a similar feat.

So, anyway, while we’re wallowing in our misery, feel free to share your own nominees for Georgia’s worst games.

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254 comments Add your comment

Snellville Dawg

January 8th, 2011
11:45 am

2008 Tech game certainly wasn’t a high point. Also, the 2006 loss to Vandy was pretty bad.

stendek

January 8th, 2011
11:46 am

Uh, no! STENDEK

sad dawg

January 8th, 2011
11:54 am

he cant do it, mark richt just is not able to motivate the whole season–maybe a game or two at most. our players fell his goodness and dont worry about repercussions from stupid acts and not giving it their all. if richt ran a business , he would go bankrupt. it is obvious to everyone–well almost.

ronald

January 8th, 2011
12:00 pm

WE CAN DO IT

1979

January 8th, 2011
12:02 pm

What about the 1979, 31-0 loss in Sanford to Virginia? Pretty terrible loss. Then, remember what happened in 1980?

DawginOH

January 8th, 2011
12:03 pm

If that bowl game didn’t send a shock to the system, then I don’t know what will. We can only hope that it provides the necessary motivation for a colossal turnaround in 2011.

Chuck Uga

January 8th, 2011
12:06 pm

1942 loss to cheatin’ Auburn, 1992 loss to UT in Athens, 1983 loss to Penn State, 52-17 loss to Florida in Athens, 2009 loss to UK in Athens, 1981 loss at Clemson, 1985 tie at Vandy, 2008 loss to Vandy at home, 1995 loss at UT, 2006 loss to Vandy at home, 1988 loss to Auburn, 1979 loss to Wake Forest, 1978 loss to Stanford. this year’s loss to UCF, and both 1998 and 1999 loss to Tech due to referee errors.

Chuck Uga

January 8th, 2011
12:07 pm

Oops, I missed on that 2008 loss to Vandy. It was 2006, not 2008.

Beast from the East

January 8th, 2011
12:16 pm

Afraid it’s gonna be another tough year for the Dawgs as well as my Gators. I would think 9-3 would be a GREAT season for either team. South Carolina better enjoy it while they can!

LADawg

January 8th, 2011
12:16 pm

This is what our blog is reduced to with no light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing to get excited about from the Richt press conference, recruiting and on and on. Perhaps we should pay Fox 3 mil and become a basketball school. We’re going to beat that KY jelly team!

DirkDawggler

January 8th, 2011
12:18 pm

2008 Alabama blackout game. This game is a benchmark for how unprepared Georgia football has been since the final second ticked off in that contest. We were never in it. Alabama was more physical and punched us in the mouth from the beginning. Until our team becomes more physical, we’re still going to stagger around like a punch drunk boxer against anyone we face, including UCF. It’s not enough to have great athletes. You’ve got to have great athletes who are at least, physically, on-par or better than the guy across the line of scrimmage. Until our Dawgs get meaner and stronger, we’re going to continue to struggle.

Frank Lane

January 8th, 2011
12:19 pm

Stanford has already proven it can be done. Worst to first has happened many times to many teams.

If you think you can, you have a chance to be right. If you think you can’t, you will always be right.

Chin up for champions.

AltamahaDawg

January 8th, 2011
12:21 pm

Motivation, discipline, intangible, are all great for banter and filling out columns, but there are very definable areas on the filed that are a lot easier to qualify and much less subjective.

WILL THEY rebound, especially if you are talking about transforming from this past edition to what we all really want to see, champions, in one season. Yet to seen.

CAN THEY rebound and have a much better record, is not even a legitimate question. Any one of us could find 1 or 2 very obvious areas to have even a marginal improvement in, that would have completely changed a season, even this past one. Nor would it be hard to find a lot more examples of that than the one listed.

stendek

January 8th, 2011
12:26 pm

Hi Bill. I must respond to misguided apologists. Losses are part of sports. They happen. I have been sports enthusiast/reporter for half a century. Please bear with me. Mark Richt can no longer motivate players. This has never been more evident than over the last two seasons. The true downward spiral began prior to Oklahoma State disaster. Opponent disrespected Bulldogs by stating victory by outrageous margin. Any decent head coach would have been able to motivate team out of its head. Unmotivated Bulldogs of MR embarrassed themselves in Oklahoma. That embarrassment has stretched over the last two seasons at least. Know when Bulldogs actually played like Bulldogs all of us know and love? Think about it. Against Hawaii. Seems like centuries ago. If MR wants to be another Billy Graham I wish him nothing but the best. I want a Bear Bryant at Bulldog football helm not an evangelist. Bulldogs now win close against untalented teams but get blown out by upper echelon squads. Okay for a technical school or junior collegew but not for a proud institution like the one in Athens. There is no optimism in Bulldog Nation any more. Fans, whether they admit it or not, do not EXPECT the Bulldogs to win. I certainly do not. Tennessee Tech. Probably. Vandy. Maybe. Any upper tier SEC team. Forget it. This should be unacceptable to those in charge in Athens. It is not. That is what frustrates me more than anything else. Stick with the status quo. For more defeats like ones to Colorado and (insert team here). Truly sad. STENDEK

LADawg

January 8th, 2011
12:29 pm

DirkDawgler is right; the Tide in 08 was the worst! I remember sitting in the theatre at the student center watching the Gators go down to Ole Miss. The Dawgs controlled their destiny in the SEC and National Championsip. The crowd had never been more pumped. Unfortunately, the 12th man was the only player to show up. Two teams passed one another that night going in different directions. Alabama had its coming out party in Sanford Stadium where our team had learned to play and frolic on the sideline like school children DURING FREAKIN GAMES!

Jesup

January 8th, 2011
12:31 pm

Every Florida loss..

Rick

January 8th, 2011
12:37 pm

dawgfan

January 8th, 2011
12:44 pm

Any hope of a dramatic turnaround in 2011 is nothing more than wishful thinking. That’s not to say it won’t happen. There’s just no evidence that it will. The rational thing to do is to expect the same kind of sloppy uninspired football that we’ve been seeing the past couple of years. That’s my expectation. I used to be the most delusional glass is half full homer in the world but I’ve sure as hell been cured of that. The writing was on the wall that something was wrong when we got absolutely blasted by Bama and Florida in ‘08, but what did Richt do? Absolutely nothing. Why start now?

Big Canoe

January 8th, 2011
12:45 pm

I remember all of those stinkers. I also remember they all occurred under Coach Dooley.

Brad

January 8th, 2011
12:45 pm

The ‘79 Wake loss will always stand out to me. I was a budding Dawg fan only 7 years old and growing up in Winston-Salem. I think we were the only Dawg fans in town. We went to the game. I have never seen my dad dread a return home so much. It was warranted, believe me, because upon our return we found black and gold streamers decorating every tree in the yard so thick you could barely see the house and an old discarded toilet in the front yard with the words “Georgia Got Flushed” written on the seat. My mother had a sense of humor about it but my dad being a diehard serious Dawg that he is still to this day has a strained friendship with the folks that paid us a visit.
Wow, I hope this time next year we are talking about all time great VICTORIES and not worst losses. Come on DAWGS!

GATA

January 8th, 2011
12:47 pm

Like Lance Guidry said in his now infamous pregame speech to Miami Ohio the other night, we got to put that chip back on our shoulder and play for aaaalllll four quarters!! Come out the gate and run our race!! Let’s go get our damn trophy!!

Bill

January 8th, 2011
12:48 pm

I saw all of those miserable games…in person. The Tangerine Bowl was so bad the bathrooms consisted of portable toilets located in the endzones. Very appropriate.

XXX

January 8th, 2011
12:48 pm

OUR GUYS CAN SWIM!

DawgByte

January 8th, 2011
12:49 pm

Q:
Can Georgia make a comeback next year?

A: Yes. Look at Miami of Ohio this year for a good example of turnarounds.

We’re going to need a stellar recruiting class that meets ALL of our needs. We’re going to need each and every player on this team to reach deep inside and question their commitment level.

Macclenny_dawg

January 8th, 2011
12:49 pm

@ Jesup I TOTALLY AGREE!!!

The worst losses are in this order
Dec. 31, 2010 UCF L 10-6
Nov. 13, 2010 at Auburn (CBS) L 49-31
Oct. 30, 2010 at Florida (CBS) L 34-31
Oct. 2, 2010 at Colorado (FSN) L 29-27
Sept. 25, 2010 at Miss. State (FSN) L 24-12
Sept. 18, 2010 Arkansas (ESPN) L 31-24
Sept. 11, 2010 at South Carolina (ESPN) L 17-6

Because they are the last games we played!!!! That is what matters!!!!

Although most of us on this blog has no real room to hire and fire a guy, I shore think Fran Tarkenton’s comments should mean something to Adams!!! He should carry at least the third highest voice that matters behind Walker, and Dooley!!! One more season Richt SEC CHAMPIONSHIP OR BYE BYE!!!

7576DAWG

January 8th, 2011
12:51 pm

LADAWG
That’s what has frustrated me the most. For our players to celebrate like they have just seen God when they do something like score a touchdown or intercept a pass. Sometimes we get a penalty or we have to hurry the next play because nobody stays focus on the end results which is to win the game. A great example is the lost to LSU last year. If we don’t have to kick from the 15 or 20 yard line LSU starts their last drive at their 20 and we are able to run out the clock and win the game.
I can’t stand somebody to use a saying like FINISH THE DRILL, and nobody,player or coach, knows what that means or how to accomplish it.

Ted Striker

January 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

Chuck Uga — I ditto your list.

And I add the 1985 loss to Bama (20-16) at Sanford Stadium in Athens, with Mike Shula leading the Bama comeback. UGA perhaps didn’t deserve to win the game but it sure appeared that they had it.

Now that I’m thinking about it the 1984 loss to Florida was a pretty miserable experience. Trip good, game bad.

Borat

January 8th, 2011
12:54 pm

When I first became Georgia fan the players cooked good, made good sexy time and was strong on plow. Over the years my team has grown hair on chest, their voices have gotten deeper and their vajeen now hangs down like sleeve of wizard.

Ron Roberts

January 8th, 2011
1:01 pm

The Florida ***-whooping three years ago, when we were out-playing them in the first half, and let INTs and fumbles doom us to an all-out WAXING; that game stands out, as do the two losses in 2007 that shouldn’t have happened (and would have made us consensus #1 in the BCS).

Imagine it; those two games – the USC letdown and the pasting we took at Tennessee – before the Dawgs and Richt found their way, not only deprived us of a national title (or at least a shot), but it may have set this program off-course, period.

All in all, what this program lacks is big-boy swagger; bear with me.

We’ve spent so much time effort and energy trying to build a “speed” defense to counter the spread an option offense that we just don’t have beef on our lines. Our offense, though a pro-style offense, has lacked a bruising running back since Musa Smith. We get all the “flashy” guys at skill positions, but no workhorses.

I’ll take workhorses and above-average QBs and WRs in the college game any day.

still a dawg fan

January 8th, 2011
1:03 pm

The Vandy game in 94 or 95

JT

January 8th, 2011
1:07 pm

I wasn’t around for those ’70’s losses, but there have been plenty of bad ones since. Let’s start with the ’90’s. I nominate the 1996 season opening loss to Southern Miss at home in Donnan’s first year. Soaking rain and we lost 11-7. And also the ‘94 loss to Vandy at home. The home-and-home ‘94 and ‘95 Florida games (the only thing worse than Saturday night in Jax after a loss is being in Gainesville). The ‘98 Tennessee game at home (I think Gameday was in Athens for that one).

GATA

January 8th, 2011
1:08 pm

I think Richt needs to look at some of the big games UGA has WON over the years and see what was happening then, and what has changed. Obviously losing Van Gorder and the demise of the strength and conditioning program are key. But there are those intangibles that are hard to define that Richt has to get back. Maybe Grantham can channel Erk and bring back a Junkyard Dawg mentality, and get back to freaking fundamental, hard-nosed football. I know it is the age of the prima-donna athlete that seems to be doing a program a favor by selecting them to play for, but hell other programs are getting it done. You think TCU has the recruiting base that we have every year? Yet watching those guys play that have that “it” that goes beyond x’s and o’s. There was a time when UGA had that, even under Richt. I guess we’ll see next year.

still a dawg fan

January 8th, 2011
1:09 pm

Good news DS just committed to the DAWG.

DIT

January 8th, 2011
1:13 pm

Is there really any comparison with Erk to CTG.? I don’t recall CTG having blood on his head. Plus, Dooley was an old fashion, get the team working hard, kind of coach. Don’t think CMR has that edge.
The seniors of this coming year’s team better take the bull by the horns and set the example. Good leadership on the team will go a long way. If anyone gets arrested, not only should CMR be more stricter, but the Seniors should take that individual out to the wood shed, then make an example out of him during practice.
CMR needs to lead the team, but the seniors need to be aggressive and lead the team as well. I don’t know of one Dawg Alumn that can go through another year like we just had.
Congrats to LSU for showing us how to “get it done”!

Dawg 39

January 8th, 2011
1:15 pm

TA&M, Maryland, & Miami of Ohio have shown that it can be done. I still don’t see that happening in 2011 for the Dawgs. Until we can win at the LOS on O & D, the Dawgs will have the same problems that they have had the last 2 years. Hope the new S&C will help with that & with the lack of success in the 4th Quarter.
My 3 worst losses under Richt are GT in 08, & COL. this year, with the worst being UCF in the bowl game. Things have to get better bacause they can’t get any worse.

J Clay

January 8th, 2011
1:16 pm

2007 at UT – which was the true beginning of the UGA decline, although masked as UGA went on to beat Florida that year and won Sugar…I was at that game, was prepared team I’ve ever seen….Followed closely by 2008 at home against Bama (blackout game)…UGA was about as unprepared but Alabama at least went on to bigger and better things (unlike UT year before)…Also agree with JT, game in 96 against Southern Miss bad – my 1st game as a student, pouring rain the whole game

bruce mac

January 8th, 2011
1:16 pm

I was a senior at UGA in 1974 and my buddies and I decided to go to the Tangerine Bowl. Dawgs accepted the invitation before the embarrasing mawling by Pepper Rogers wishbone team in a pooring rain. The Tangerine Bowl stadium didn’t sit more than 20K and we sat in metal bleachers at the 35 yard line, a glorified high school stadium. Tickets were $15. We got killed and in my life nothing is worse than that loss. Miami of Ohio was nothing more than a division 1AA team at that time. There was not one player on the team that could go to any SEC team or so the experts said. No loss to Alabama or Kentucky or even Vandy can compare to it as fas as humiliation. GO DAWGS

J Clay

January 8th, 2011
1:20 pm

I meant “worst prepared team I’ve ever seen” above in reference to 07 game at UT

DIT

January 8th, 2011
1:29 pm

UCF was the most embarrassing loss that I can recall during the CMR era. Most unprepared and undiscipline games would be:
UT in 05. Just spanked NC LSU is a great display of talent and came back flat against UT. No reason to lose that game. I remember UT fans were upset with us because it kept fuller around another 2 years.
UT & SC in 07. Win one of those games and we are in the SEC CG. Win that and we win the NC
Tech 08 and even though we won this year it was a game I felt we lost because of the way we played. I was not bragging over that win.

Ed (The Original)

January 8th, 2011
1:38 pm

Definitely the ‘33 loss to USC in LA. 31-0. We were 8-1, having lost only to Auburn (a recurring theme in Georgia history), and thought we were special and would show them California boys how we played in the Deep South. They whipped us like yard dogs.

Dirty

January 8th, 2011
1:51 pm

6 of the 7 losses were not played in Athens….

Gatormeat

January 8th, 2011
1:54 pm

Can the dogs rebound. Absolutly not. You will be lucky if you can keep enough players out of jail to field a team. You are a disgrace to the SEC

Jan Kemp

January 8th, 2011
1:56 pm

Does the Pope wear a funny hat?

Can a UGA mascot live past it’s 4th birthday? Seriously, hillbillys. The continued inbreeding of that genetic freak of a dog amounts to animal cruelty.

Gatormeat

January 8th, 2011
1:58 pm

Good one Kemp. Your screen name is very apt, she showed the country what a corrupt and classless operation the dogs are. You have to remember inbreeding is the way the dogs roll

BWELL

January 8th, 2011
2:01 pm

Bill we will turn it around in 2011, trust me okay! We are in the hunt for SEC next year, ala and aub are going down, LSU looks to be the team to beat next yr from the West conf. and Fla and SC won’t challenge us, Coach Richt understands he has to win now or never and with the new AD yeah CMR knows it win now, and the storm will be over, he will have the same fire he once had since he will be freed up to ACTUALLY COACH NOW!!! GO DAWGS……….. Beating Boise will set the tone.

bart

January 8th, 2011
2:03 pm

I really, really hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see us improving much in 2011. It would not surprise me if we start off 0 and 2. We could easily end up with 4 or 5 losses, maybe more.

dwdawg

January 8th, 2011
2:09 pm

I think the most important thing of all for any team is a winning attitude. The coaches must have it. The players must have it. The student body must have it. If you have dedicated players who believe in themselves, you don’t need a lot of talent.-Bear Bryant

Cuz

January 8th, 2011
2:13 pm

Worse loss, gotta be Virginia at Homecoming in 1979, 31-0. I had to get my date to carry me home because I drained my licquor in the second half. Good thing I was dating a girl that grew up on a Dairy Farm. She was used to toting two hay bales and I probably weighed less than that at the time.

Destin Dawg

January 8th, 2011
2:14 pm

do we have the same coaches back for 2011 ??? kick a field goal with 4th and 1 foot at the 3 yard line ?????? same old predictable play calling… out of shape linemen ????? please someone wake up coach Richt !!!!!

Boobie Bowden

January 8th, 2011
2:25 pm

Who cares? Dawgs are irrelevant, dumb, delusional, and probably drunk.