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

AltamahaDawg

January 9th, 2011
1:52 pm

Good Luck AJ.

7576DAWG

January 9th, 2011
1:53 pm

harold
Auburn is a one year wonder because they have a freak, once in a life time player, running the offense. If Newton leaves , and he is a fool if he doesn’t , Auburn will lose at least 4 games next year and they would have lost at least six this year if they didn’t have Newton. Auburns defense was way worst than Georgia’s this year but didn’t get the coverage on just how bad they were because Newton was able to dominate ” Time of Possession “

UGA = SEC Joke

January 9th, 2011
1:54 pm

A mediocre program with mediocre coaching and mediocre recruiting. Good luck playing in Shreveport in December.

Coach Mark Rick

January 9th, 2011
2:06 pm

Coach Rick here,
I’ve been studying film, just watched “Remember the Titans.” Think I’ve come up with something to give us an edge. Remember how Denzel had his players hit their thigh pads with their hands and then raise them over their heads as they marched onto the field. It bllew the other teams mind, the Titans won the game and the state championship. We’re starting practicing this A.S.A.P. ! Boy, football is really getting fun again.

Nike vapor jet football gloves

January 9th, 2011
2:07 pm

Hard nosed Erk was a great man.

7576DAWG

January 9th, 2011
2:14 pm

The biggest problem that I see with CMR is: over the years he is treating his team more and more like a high school team. Florida played a lot of true freshmen this year and will be better off for it next year. Auburn let Newton run the entire offense in his first year at Auburn , no learning curve and he did just fine.Tennessee played three offensive lineman as true freshmen which will show huge benefits in 2011. I think CMR Red Shirts way too many freshmen because he doesn’t think they can pick up his system. CMR needs to let these kids play , they will be a lot more benefit to the team on the field than on the bench. CMR needs to stop worrying about them having to learn every blocking assignment and being in the perfect position on every play and let them learn on the field instead of practice. Some freshmen need to be Red Shirted but Georgia needs to have the best players on the field on every play whether they are freshmen or not.

needums

January 9th, 2011
2:18 pm

I hope for the best but I’m not holding my breath

AltamahaDawg

January 9th, 2011
2:21 pm

I think the point of the analogy Smith was making is not that Dooley/Russell did turn it around. It was they there were just as many fans in 1974 that were absolutely convinced they would not.

UGAFan

January 9th, 2011
2:36 pm

AltamahaDawg,

You seem to be thinking that Richt can turn it around. I think he can’t, although I hope he can.

If you are not just being contrary, tell me how you think he can win again against teams, any team with a winning record, because he hasn’t done it in a while.

UGAG is gitting the ncaa death penalty, he he ha ha

January 9th, 2011
3:08 pm

Does doggy poo stink? Then so does uga….

UGAG is gitting the ncaa death penalty, he he ha ha

January 9th, 2011
3:08 pm

Dawg Tired

January 9th, 2011
3:44 pm

AltamahaDawg – I get your point. However, another big difference in analogizing the two situations is the fact that UGA was not able to recruit nearly the talent back in the 70’s that Richt has recruited. Dooley, especially in the 70’s seldom has great recruiting classes. Richt has done less with more. That is why the turnaround seems so unlikely this year. Dooley’s staff was much better at coaching the fundamentals. As I watch these bowl games this year, I never ceased to be amazed when, like in the Cotton Bowl, the announcers point out that when LSU got an illegal procedure penalty with 18 seconds left in the 3rd quarter it was their 1st penalty of the game. Under Richt we have consistently been one of the most penalized teams in the country. That is a failure to coach fundamentals. Plus, we started this past season off with a team that obviously had not done the fundamental preparation of things like tackling. Of course, our inability to block is another fundamental we clearly don’t teach very well. Need I continue?

AceDawg

January 9th, 2011
3:52 pm

This year’s Colorado game was the true low point of the season and in Richt’s era. I’m pretty sure UCF would handle them with no problem.

edumacated

January 9th, 2011
3:54 pm

I still can’t believe there are folks on here supporting Richt. Talk about brain damage.

7576 Dawg, Kirby Smart is an unknown for sure, but he is young, full of energy, and has learned under the best in the business. I think he will be the guy, but at this point, I would take a lot of folks over Richt.

Trippin' Sinkwich

January 9th, 2011
4:31 pm

Boobie Bowden said: “Who cares? Dawgs are irrelevant, dumb, delusional, and probably drunk”….
The above obviously true, but nothing was worse than the Gators winning 52-17 between the hedges, noting even comes close to it, 20,000 Gator fans celebrating in an empty stadium the whole 4th quarter, that game couldn’t end fast enough and ten run Lindsay run victories wouldn’t make up for it! They’ve won 3 NC’s in the last 15 years, we’re still anging on to our only one from 31 years ago….

snoopy

January 9th, 2011
5:17 pm

Look – I love the Dawgs as much as any UGA fan…..

But – Please put the bong down & step away…

The SEC is so loaded with talented head coaches…

Love CMR, but the others (Saban, Miles, SOS, Petrino, Mullen) are not going to go “stupid” anytime soon…

If we go 8 – 4 or 9 – 3 next season that’ll be a HUGE improvement!

Coach Mark Rick

January 9th, 2011
5:38 pm

Coach Rick here
Don’t worry dawg fans,that’s why you pay me the big buckets. I’ve got everything under control. We are going to have a new way of doing the same old thing. I hope everyone is as excited as I am. Boise State better watch out, I’m ready to run our victory formation right now. I think I’ve told you all that’s my favorite play. Sometimes I run it in the second quarter just so the other team knows what’s coming.

jojo

January 9th, 2011
5:42 pm

Nebraska in the Sun Bowl. Should not have even been close to there, nor any bowl game.

AltamahaDawg

January 9th, 2011
5:52 pm

Not sure what you base Dooley not having the same talent to work with. I remember that he did. Certainly the level of talent is better now, but that means he didn’t have compete against the same talent either.

And there has been nothing consistant about the penalty issue. Got out of hand a couple of years there, but not before. And nobody had less penalties in the SEC than Richt’s team this past year. Not LSU. They were actually closer to the most, rather than the least. They are many top ranked team far more consitantly in the most penalized team than UGA in the past 10 years. LSU is one of them I believe. UF damn sure is.

They did have a big RB and a good O-line though. I am with you that what we are doing lately in the regard is not working. I’ve said that for several years. You just couldn’t hear me over the “its all willie’s fault” screaming.

RICHT MUST GO

January 9th, 2011
7:10 pm

All those who think that things will change at UGA while Richt is still head coach need to stop sniffing the glue.

ChainConsq

January 9th, 2011
7:39 pm

Of course Dawgs can turn it around…anyone that says otherwise is either lying or ignorant. Any student of college football knows how strange games/seasons can be. To give Richt full credit/blame for W-L record is a joke. Players actually play the game/perform on the field…same foolish attitude is currently a fad in education…blaming/crediting teachers for student performance…as if kids are robots/thoughtless automatons.

AltamahaDawg

January 9th, 2011
8:43 pm

Fan, to say a guy that for the overwhemliming majority of his career has had teams that have played at a high level, “can” do it again, doesn’t seem to me as being very contary. To say he “can’t” despite the evidence he already did before would much more difficult to defend factually. I would hope that if you know anything about me I am not exactly the type of guy to be unrealistic or delusional about anything.

But really, I think the discussion is WAY too centered on Coach Richt anyway. He ain’t the one on the field. The rightful debate should be if this team has the capability to play better. I just think the reasons they lost can be easily identified. They lost by very small margins, in some cases a matter of a play, so clearly an improved record is not any kind of stretch. I also don’t think beating teams with winning record is any big magic formula. I have about 3 things that I believe were major factors this past year, that I would expect to see improvement. Thats it. It’s that simple. Has nothing to do with trust or faith in Richt perse’ but yes I absolutely believe he can be the HC of an improved UGA football team next year. I am also encouraged that Greg McGarity believes that as well. He studied it in detail with a lot at stake, unlike me.

David

January 9th, 2011
8:56 pm

Ga people never have got it. Here is the secret. You have to hold your coach responsible. When is the last time he earned part of that three million dollar salary? But I don’t think you guys will ever get it.
Good.

Hairy Perry

January 9th, 2011
9:17 pm

No disrespect guys, but I think all this talk about Dooley and Erk and what they did is a waste of time.It is a different game now than it was in the seventies and eighties, it really has nothing at all to do with what it happenning now. I have no idea about what will happen next year, I think things will improve, I just don’t no how much. In my opinion any thing under a 10 win season is going to be crappy. I do know that we have wasted alot of talent that other teams would have won big with.

Hairy Perry

January 9th, 2011
9:21 pm

I don’t know what has happened to coach Richt. He has proven he can be a great coach, but what we have been seeing lately is mind boggling. The call in the 1st drive to kick a field goal on fourth and inches in the 5 yard line made my mouth drop. UCF took it from there.

Hairy Perry

January 9th, 2011
9:25 pm

I don’t know about you guys but I DO CARE about our basketball program and I was exited to see us take a big step foward by beating Kentucky. Get on board with this team because they are playing great basketball. It would mean alot to those players to see us fill the stadium.

doug

January 9th, 2011
10:06 pm

No. The talent pool is dried up at UGA and Richt cant command enough respect to attract a decent coordinator. Oh …and Richt cant coach. Checkmate!!!!!!!!

col fot

January 9th, 2011
11:31 pm

and tomorrow we’ll see scam newton and thug fairley as the auburn hood takes on the Oregon Duckies, as much as i would like the SEC win 5 in row i hope the Dcukies stomp th hood!

It is what it is

January 9th, 2011
11:35 pm

AS Bowden once said CMR is too nice of a guy to be a good head coach.. This ship is too full of water CMR has done nothing or said anything to make me believe that he can right this ship. Everyone has realized the CMR game plan and CMR refuses to believe it. Alabama knew it 3 years ago. They knew they were going to win before stepping into Sanford Stadium. Why didn’t CMR know? He will not fire BooBoo. Take a look at the record since handing the reigns to this guy. It’s over. Start the search for a coach now. Maybe O’Leary wants a pay raise.. If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em. One more thing..who would want to play for a school that can’t get up enough or out talent a UCF team?

UGA fans are so ....

January 9th, 2011
11:37 pm

October 28, 1995-Daddy Spurrier goes for half a hundred-52-17-tween the hedges
October 2006-After leading UT by 24-7, The Great Pumpkin leads the Vols on a 44-9 run to spank uga 51-33.

NVDawg

January 9th, 2011
11:45 pm

Yes, the players play the game but I feel the way I’ve seen our players play the game over the past 3-5 years now clearly shows some glaring deficiencies in coaching. I’m starting to focus less on the coaches themselves though and more on the whole situation itself. I think we have sort of a “like poles repelling” situation going on. We had some success in the early half of the 2000s which lead to better recruits wanting to come to UGA. Unfortunately I think that also led to getting some high caliber recruits that were coming to UGA with some misplaced sense of entitlement thinking something like “man, I’m going to UGA. They’ve been good recently. They’ll win, they have a good program with talent so I won’t have to work/practice/play as hard” (at least that’s the attitude I feel I see on the field on game day a lot). But then we have this emotionless, calm and cool coach that seems to not have the right kind of approach or attitude to reign entitled kids like that in and get 100% out of them every second of every practice and game.

Something has to give. They either need to change the recruiting approach or if they’re going to keep that status quo they need a coach/coaches that are a little bit more of a hard a** and can deal with those types of kids better. With Richt’s demeanor and attitude I think he’d be a great coach for a team full of “Rudy’s” that have a chip on their shoulder, will work really hard and have something to prove. The current coaching staff seems to be desperately lacking in the disciplinary skills necessary to reign in a bunch of lazy entitled kids.

Coach Mark Rick

January 9th, 2011
11:52 pm

Enter your comments here

Dirty Dawg

January 9th, 2011
11:55 pm

Since they didn’t give us a chance to comment on the bit about Auburn fans flocking to Arizona, thought I’d do it here.

What the piece made me think of is that whenever I ‘break down’ and buy a lottery ticket, the one moment of ‘enjoyment’ I get is imagining how I would react if I should actually win. Then, of course, I don’t and I just throw the ticket away and move on.

Now we have Auburn fans…here’s their chance to actually ‘play out’ their dream…go to Glendale…holler War Eagle…celebrate victory (or maybe not)…then come home with all those memories of having ‘won it all’. THEN, when the time comes – perhaps not later this year, but it will come – when they take it all away because you-know-who, took you-know-what, from ‘you know’, AU fans will actually ‘not’ have won the lottery, but they at least got to ‘actually’ experience it…see? Sorry guys, but this thing ain’t goin’ away…ever. There’s not enough ‘hush money’ to keep it buried for much longer. Somebody that knows will decide that they need the money and will write a book or sell their story to National Enquirer, or are willing to ‘fink out’ the AU ‘pay-for-play’ program in order to keep themselves out of jail or something, and the ‘truth will finally out’.

By the way, hope Auburn does win, I’ve got ‘em in my bowl pool – I never said that I thought Auburn didn’t know the value of good football players.

Micheal Adams

January 10th, 2011
12:01 am

Micheal Adams here.
You low life football fans are an embarrassedment to the academic community, here at UGA. I could care less about you losers, I’m an Ohio State fan and look forward to them kicking clueless dog butts.

Not the first

January 10th, 2011
12:03 am

UCF isn’t the first Conference USA team to beat Georgia. In the 1996 season – the first season of CUSA’s football existance – Southern Miss beat UGA in the season opener. That score (11-7 I believe) was almost the same as the UCF-UGA score.

IowaDawg

January 10th, 2011
1:30 am

The doom and gloom has to stop. I am a lifetime UGA fan and I will be until I die. I can remember the disappointment of the 1979 season. Look what happened the next year. Did Vince Dooley suddenly become a better coach in one off season? Since the head coach is responsible for everything that goes on in the program the what happened in 1979 was Vince’s fault. The Dawgs looked horrible… they gave games away. That sounds like slack discipline to me. Erk Russell tolerated that? What old school football minds were tolerating lax discipline?
Coach Richt isn’t as soft as you guys seem to think. Nor is he as dull as you think. How many people remember the Fastbreak offense he ran at FSU with Charlie Ward? How many remember that Dooley brought him here because of the productiveness of his offenses? How many remember that the famed mat drills were instituted to condition our players to run that offense? How many remember that rule changes took the teeth out of it and Richt scrapped it because everyone was saying it would never work in the SEC?
Coach Richt will add some wrinkles to his offense, perhaps allow Aaron Murray to do some Fastbreak like things with our existing playbook.
I think that our players need to play to win and stop worrying about making mistakes. They played tentatively this year. They played tight. They played not to lose. All those things add up to critical mistakes and giving games away. They need to see that their fans BELIEVE in them. These are young men. How can they have any confidence in themselves if their fans are constantly running them down? There is a crap load of talent in Athens. How about some support? How about letting them know that their best is all we ask for? You might be surprised what that can do.

Ol' Wayne

January 10th, 2011
4:19 am

Note to “Jan Kemp”.. Please go to ANY 5th grade English grammar book to find out about CORRECT punction! Your murdering of “its” is more embarrassing than a Georgia football loss. But, then, you dang “teachers” KNOW EVERYTHING! And you cannot – or will not learn jus the basic punctuation. Don’t criticize anything you know nothing about!

legionaire

January 10th, 2011
6:39 am

A rebound is possible if the O line can be improved. It was sure oversold last season and the results prove it. The D should continue to improve as Grantham’s system is out of the learning curve and guys are comfortable in it. Motivation has to come from Richt. UGA fans understand down years they will not tolerate games where the team is unprepared and unmotivated like CF.

tired of losing to UF

January 10th, 2011
6:57 am

How about 1990-2010 Florida games!!!!!

yearofthedawg

January 10th, 2011
8:31 am

The Auburn game where we were down 31-0 at the half during a huge recruiting weekend gets my vote.

The for sheer emotion in a supposedly meaningless game, the bowl game against Virginia where we finally took the lead right before the end and then handed it right back to them ranks up there too.

LifeLongDawg

January 10th, 2011
9:14 am

Worse loss for me is any to Tech. I hate those guys. I think deep down I know they are better than us, even when we win. Any win against Tech is basically luck. I have to call a Tech guy boss everyday, and I hate my life.

AltamahaDawg

January 10th, 2011
9:15 am

GOOD CALL! Had just defeated defending NC Florida, and AU had just lost to MissState. The Auburn fans were joking that night, hope we didn’t beat them too bad. They were terrible. Donnan had finally got us there. Game over before the second quarter. Crushedd any hopes of winning the SEC. FAR worse loss than this past bowl. By a longshot.

My buddies and I still laugh about that game…ok we score right away out of the locker room, hold em, score, hold em, score, hold em……..right back in it…… except, they scored to open the third quarter I think.

npgator

January 10th, 2011
9:23 am

This will be Richt’s last season at UGA.

Theo

January 10th, 2011
10:17 am

Richt’s idea of turning it around: Season long blackout!

PMC

January 10th, 2011
10:38 am

No, the work eithic isn’t there. You can’t just wave a magic wand and make players care about winning.

Either they want to prepare or the don’t. These guys don’t care enough.

Wrong about Miami of Ohio players in 74 Tangerine

January 10th, 2011
10:55 am

Miami of Ohio had a QB that was like a McPherson of Syracuse or a McNabb was. He was tall around 6′2′ and he could throw, he could throw while on the run or he could just flat out run. He had some NFL supporting cast too and their entire team had that David vs Goliath thing, even though UGA was lousy that year. We did not know whether we were a running team in the Veer with QB Ray Goff or a passing squad with Matt Robinson, also of Jets NFL fame. We had some big time talent that did develop in 75 and 76. Always, that particular group od Dogs under played their abilities. Goff was their spiritual and emotional leader in fist fighting and fun and sports. He was a rounder in them days. Ask him.

Their QB??Rod Sherman was his name and he played running back for several years in the NFL in the mid to late 70s and early 80s. He was a above average NFL running back or flanker sort of like a Hines Ward in talent. He was taller.

Attitude is everything and then, like in Memphis, UGA just had lousy attitudes. An old UGA roomate and I were going to fly in his plan up to Memphis and view the game and we had a free pad to stay in …………….. my son and I and my old pal said about the Liberty …………” I pass.” We knew what to expect. See the Tangerine in 74.

Too little and too late with CMR. TIME for a major change. Coaches need to move on after 5 – 7 years anyway, as it just seems to always grow stale …………like at UGA right now.

HanDAWG

January 10th, 2011
11:12 am

Easily the loss to the Gators when we finished 13-1. Pollack had been loose with a few footballs in his hands that day, but we made mistakes: penalties, missed field goals, poor tackling, DJ’s first half interception. And then, Terrence Edwards dropped the game-tying touchdown from Greene. We were quiet in the stands, my buddy Mike and I, for about 15 minutes after. It just hurt so bad to lose that year. And it eventually cost us a national championship. BTW: UCF would have been the best team we beat this season had we beaten them. We beat no good football teams – the Colorado (choke), Arkansas (choke) and Florida (choke) losses were in my many ways worse than the bowl.

HanDAWG

January 10th, 2011
11:12 am

HanDAWG

January 10th, 2011
11:14 am

missing word “opinion” (from above), “my opinion many ways”

Justin

January 10th, 2011
12:06 pm

You guys think Richt ends up in 4 weeks at Stanford or Michigan or LSU? My guess is Stanford.