Opening game may be Dogs’ toughest since another Georgia-Clemson clash

georgia-clemson flagWith Clemson the media pick to win the ACC, Georgia the media pick to threepeat as SEC East winner, both teams likely to have preseason Top 10 rankings, and a national television audience watching, the Aug. 31 game in Death Valley between the Bulldogs and Tigers may well rank as UGA’s toughest season opener ever.

A win by the Dawgs might well put the game up there with all-time favorite openers ever for UGA, alongside Herschel Walker’s debut at Tennessee in 1980 and the shocking flea-flicker upset of defending national champion Alabama in 1965.

Of course, there’ve been other very tough openers for the Bulldogs, including big games Georgia hasn’t won. Besides the more recent examples of the debacle in the Power Rangers uniforms against Boise State in the Georgia Dome in 2011 and the 2009 team’s flop opener on the road against Oklahoma State, there was the opening game of the first “Junkyard Dawg” season in 1975, when the Bulldogs faced Johnny Majors’ Pitt Panthers and running back sensation Tony Dorsett in Athens. Georgia lost that game 19-9. (In three games against Dorsett, the best Georgia could do was a 7-7 tie in his first collegiate game in 1973, another season opener.)

But in order to find a Bulldogs season opener that ranks with this year’s in terms of media hype and the teams’ stature, you have to go back to 1982 and, ironically, another Georgia-Clemson clash.

Herschel Walker's injury added to the drama of the 1982 game with Clemson. (University of Georgia)

Herschel Walker's injury added to the drama of the 1982 game with Clemson. (University of Georgia)

The two teams had agreed to meet on Labor Day night at Sanford Stadium, and the nationally televised game, which took place at the height of the storied Georgia-Clemson rivalry, matched the two previous seasons’ national champions. It marked Georgia’s first night game in Athens in many years under newly installed lights.

The Bulldogs came into the game ranked No. 7 nationally and the Tigers were either No. 9 or No. 11, depending on which poll was cited. Jim Nabors was on hand to sing the national anthem, and adding to the drama was the fact that the Dawgs’ star tailback, Walker, had an injured thumb and wasn’t even certain to play.

When Walker entered the game as a decoy in the second quarter, the Tigers’ focus on him allowed Tron Jackson to score on a 41-yard reverse, though the score was wiped out by a penalty. But the Georgia defense rose to the occasion, intercepting Athens native Homer Jordan four times and blocking a punt that turned into a touchdown for the Dogs. And Kevin Butler kicked two field goals. The Dawgs won 13-7.

A classic Georgia-Clemson game and one of the Dawgs’ greatest openers ever.

Will we see another one this year?

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167 comments Add your comment

DawgieStyle

July 24th, 2013
10:10 am

Go Dawgs! Beat Clem’s Son!

I want to see Gurshall run wild.

Dawg_Mike

July 24th, 2013
10:17 am

Colin Cowherd ” You know, Coach Richt, you could have scheduled Yale” “You did’nt have to open with Clemson”…

If we lose this game and run the table it wont matter but all things considered – I wish we opened with Yale.

Dawgjohn

July 24th, 2013
10:19 am

You have to remember the all American linebacker Dan Benish’s dream before the game! Hershel turned that dream upside down on Electron’s run. See if someone can remember the episode ….. One of the best Hershel stories and he didn’t touch the ball

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
10:30 am

We will see how it ranked in the big picture..but as far as ‘toughest” openers, recently , that would be Boise State. We went into that game with a defense (players and coaches) still trying to learn what to do, and an offense that had been completely revamped over the offseason. And very young. And it showed.

This openers is simply who wants to win more.

bham dawg

July 24th, 2013
10:31 am

@Dawgie Style… Let’s refrain form using Gurshall. Gurley and Marshall don’t like it and Richt has said that we shouldn’t use this.

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
10:34 am

Altamaha
The Boise game wouldn’t be classified as the toughest IMHO, we weren’t competitive and I don’t recall if we were even ranked in the top 20

Class of '98

July 24th, 2013
10:45 am

Y’all can hate on the Power Rangers uniforms all you want, but those helmets were sharp and original. I’d like to see us wear those more often, though I know it will never happen simply because we lost that game.

USC JIMI

July 24th, 2013
10:52 am

It will be hard to win a championship with an opening game loss! Even tougher if the game is one sided. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a great atmosphere and certainly a hostile crowd.

Owen Scott, III

July 24th, 2013
10:56 am

Bring it on!

Tatman

July 24th, 2013
11:02 am

Agreed Class of ‘98, I’d love to see those helmets used more.

Columbus Dawg

July 24th, 2013
11:02 am

I was at the 1982 game in Athens, and what an atmosphere it was! Now there was a LOT of alcohol consumption in Sanford Stadium in those days, and the crowds were regularly rowdy at all big games, but that Clemson game was one of the loudest and most hostile home crowds I have ever seen in Athens. The Sanford crowd for the Carolina game on September 7th 2013 needs to be just like that!

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
11:09 am

So playing a #3 opponent, wouldn’t be a tough game for an unranked team?

( I think we were ranked, incidentally)

BulldawgDave

July 24th, 2013
11:12 am

Let’s see…Clemson has a great offense and mediocre defense. The Chic fil a Bowl win against LSU proved nothing because LSU’s offense was AWFUL the whole year. Florida State shredded their defense and so did South Carolina. Boston College and Ga. Tech put up 31 and NC State scored 48. I don’t think they can stop UGA’s offense. Problem is, it may be the same exact thing when Clemson’s offense goes against our defense. TN and KY ran up and down the field on UGA. In my heart, think UGA’s defense will be MUCH better than advertised, but that remains to be seen. I anticipate a shoot out with UGA coming out on top.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
11:16 am

I would pick that 2011 Boise team to beat the 2013 Clemson team in an opener. Or at least, I’d say it wouldn’t surprise me at all. And Clemson is in worlds better shape than we were at the time.

I-DOG

July 24th, 2013
11:22 am

Off topic, but interesting stories out of Florida about Urban Meyer’s time as it relates to Hernandez. Hernandez was suspended for a total of one game during his three year career with the Gators. A recent story sites that Hernandez failed six drug tests while at Florida. UF officials have denied that there were six failures, but didn’t site the real number. Was it four, five or even seven failures? Hernandez was also alleged to have assaulted a local restaurant owner breaking his ear drum when the owner presented him with a bill for his food and alcoholic beverages (he was 17). Meyer and Florida decided that he should not only remain with the team, but that a grand total of 0 games should be missed.

It is now being reported that Hernandez and two teammates were under investigation for the shooting death and injury of two individuals while playing for the Gators. Can anyone imagine a Georgia player under investigation for murder not being IMMEDIATELY dismissed from the team. Hernandez was given absolutely no suspension from this situation. Does anyone remember reading about this Florida athlete being investigated for a shooting death while he was playing for the Gators? Me either. When Caleb King drove his scooter without a license, we were treated to multiple news stories about the details. Are Athens and Gainesville really that different?

Also interesting that Meyer just happened to resign from Florida as a young man at the top of his profession the same month that Hernandez announced he was leaving FL early for the NFL. He cited serious health issues as the reason. Luckily, he had a very speedy and complete recovery from these issues over the next year (while the Hernandez incidents seemed to remain a non-issue) and he felt comfortable taking the Ohio State job. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg about what was going on at Florida during Meyer’s time there. Meyer seems particularly prickly when he is asked anything about Hernandez time at Florida.

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
11:24 am

Altamaha
I think in the context that Bill King is using, the “toughest” opening game would be where we were evenly matched or even an underdog, a hard fought game where we where competitive. None of that description was the Boise game. What were we ranked?

I hated the Power Ranger unis and helmets. Nothing but bad memories

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
11:25 am

“I would pick that 2011 Boise team to beat the 2013 Clemson team in an opener. Or at least, I’d say it wouldn’t surprise me at all. And Clemson is in worlds better shape than we were at the time.”

I don’t disagree with that. I’m not convinced Clemson is equal to all the hype. I think (more hope) we beat them soundly

BigDawg

July 24th, 2013
11:39 am

I remember all of the games mentioned in Bill’s article but actually there are two games that stand out in my mind- the 1965 Alabama and 1980 Tennesee games. 1965 because it announced that Georgia was relevant again and 1980 because it set the stage for a National Championship.

Desert Fox

July 24th, 2013
11:45 am

Season openers for the dawgs have not impressed as BK has pointed out above. Add last seasons game vs Buffalo which they did win but it was ugly early on (especially for the def front) and arguably an omen of things to come in the SECCG. This is a really good Clemson team, especially the offense. The dawgs very young and inexperienced D will have their talents tested early on. Just have to hope the O is on right out of the gate and doesn’t let up regardless of how the D is playing. GA cannot afford those notorious 3 and outs and hand the ball back to Boyd and what will surely be a tired D.

It makes for an exciting matchup for openers with two teams w/high expectations and a lot of questions marks especially GA’s talented (?) but young D. Hope they show up and surprise us.

davedawg

July 24th, 2013
11:54 am

UGA has enough offensive talent to put up a ton of points against any defense, but cannot try to sit on the ball and run the clock out when they get a little lead. That is one thing that always gripes me about this staff. And what about punt returns? Did we even have positive yards on punt returns last year? I only remember fair catches except for Mitchells blunders. we’ve got to put the pedal down and not let up for sixty whole minutes. Finish the drill and all that. Go Dawgs!!

davedawg

July 24th, 2013
12:06 pm

As far as the uniforms go, I like the traditional uniform but a special one for a special game is ok as long as it respects the G. That stuff is for the players not the fans. Let them have their fun, they work hard.

I-DOG

July 24th, 2013
12:06 pm

Off topic, but the developments that have recently come to light about Meyer’s time at Florida as it relates to a certain TE that caught passes from Tim Tebow are incredible.

This is a player that served a total of a one game suspension during his three year’s at Florida. The allegations during those three years are remarkable.

Bulldawg35

July 24th, 2013
12:25 pm

We will if the o-line can hold their blocks longer in the running game! Plus we have to have some turnovers in the game to win! I just don’t see us stopping a chad Morris offense…I think we will lose..hope I’m wrong

I-DOG

July 24th, 2013
12:33 pm

Agree with Bulldawg 35. I don’t feel good about the opener on the road with the young defense. I do think we beat South Carolina the following week, especially if we commit to the running game.

I think the offense will move the ball against Clemson, but that there will be some miscues with it being the first game, and we might miss a field goal or extra point and think they burn us deep a time or two with the young secondary.

I too, hope I am wrong, and we find a way to win.

Kim

July 24th, 2013
12:37 pm

“as it relates to a certain TE that caught passes from Tim Tebow are incredible.
This is a player that served a total of a one game suspension during his three year’s at Florida. The allegations during those three years are remarkable.”

Pathetic, will yougag let go of Tebow’s jock FINALLY????!!! Yes, Aaron Hernandez is looking like quite the NFL scum. What allegations are you making about his time @ UF?

WDE

July 24th, 2013
1:18 pm

Lets just line up and hit someone on opening day and then only good things will come our way !! Man it is Great to be a Georgia Bull Dog !!

corkylovesbeer

July 24th, 2013
1:35 pm

I suggest our out of conference schedule to include ga southern, ga tech, and ga state so we can run this state!!! some years, we need to furman

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
1:59 pm

We believe we were ranked: most ugly and shiny.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
2:04 pm

Kim, I believe his membership in the Circle of Trust is fairly undisputed.

BTW, when you make a joke about hanging on to somebodies jock, It means they over idolized a guy. I d If you are going to attempt use a sports metaphor, at least use it in context.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
2:10 pm

I believe everybody is completely over estimating Clemson’s ability to come out firing on all cylinders. I don’t see them feeling loose and just having fun, in that pressure cooker. A couple of quite (UGA) scores and they will be purple faced.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
2:10 pm

lots of believing above.

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
2:21 pm

Altamaha
Yeah I don’t either. For some of the talking heads, this is only the first game of the season for UGA, with Clemson having played several already I suppose. Yes, our defense is young but their defense is down right embarrassing. Offense for Offense, pound for pound, I’d take Georgia’s any day of the week. I could be reading this one wrong but, I don’t think so. I think we win it handily although not to pretty

GTBob

July 24th, 2013
2:27 pm

The Boise St game was much tougher than this Clemson game. Just like before that game though UGA fans will claim Clemson is overrated and that they will beat them soundly. I think UGA fans do this before every out of conference opponent.

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
2:37 pm

You’re panties are showing Bobby

mgdawg

July 24th, 2013
2:38 pm

I hope UGA has another great game, but I don’t think the score will be near 13-7, I think more like 53-47.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
2:38 pm

I think we have to make a lot of mistakes on defense to give up enough points to lose. I don’t think they can say that.

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
2:40 pm

Clemson’s claim to fame has been beating up on some less than mediocre opponents in the ACC. That squeaker against LSU is hardly something to hang a hat on but, you go right ahead believing and stating whatever you think will bring the most ire of Georgia fans.

ARdawg

July 24th, 2013
2:52 pm

Alt
The key is not going to necessarily be our D as I see it. Rather the offense. If the offense is clicking and it should be, the defense will be able to make some learning curve mistakes. Ideally, they will both be on but hey, it is the first game of the season.

Murray is the key, move the ball, get up a score or two and take the crowd out, Georgia wins that game.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
2:52 pm

The more he hates us, the more he makes up visions of what we think, the more we are entertained by his obsession with us.

Rick

July 24th, 2013
2:55 pm

First 2 games will be a losses for the Dawgs

I-DOG

July 24th, 2013
2:58 pm

Kim,

Here are just some of the allegations, WHILE AT FLORIDA (not NFL).

First, it is alleged that he assaulted a local restaurant owner his first month at UF who had the audacity to give him a bill for his food and alcoholic beverages (he was 17 at the time). The owner suffered a ruptured ear drum. No suspension from Meyer and Florida

Second, it has been reported there were SIX failed drug tests by him while he was a Gator. UF officials recently were quoted as saying this isn’t true. There weren’t “SIX.” They wouldn’t say if that number was four, five or even SEVEN?? Very specific in their statement that SIX was incorrect. He served a one game suspension.

There is a report that he and two teammates were under investigation for their involvement in the shooting death of one individual and injury of another. Zero disciplinary action taken by UF and Meyer.

I love Florida fans. He is only a “scum” as you put it for his NFL crimes. He was a choir boy at FL.

I don’t think this story is going away.

Wait and See

July 24th, 2013
2:59 pm

Honestly, I think Georgia will win this game by 7-10 points but there are so many different things that could happen that it is just hard to know for sure. Clemson has a prolific passing game but they play in the ACC, so it is hard to know if they can handle a physical team like Georgia. While I was impressed with their win over LSU, I think Clemson won because they wanted it more than LSU and because Zach Mettenberger wasn’t good enough to move the chains late in the game, giving Clemson the chance they needed to get the ball back and eventually win.

Then again, Georgia has played horrible in some season-opening games and we have to go another month and a week without any of our players getting themselves suspended. But I think Gurley will be the x-factor for us to win in a shootout.

I-DOG

July 24th, 2013
3:00 pm

Kim,

Here is the report from the Wall Street Journal. I got one immaterial fact wrong. It was an employee and NOT the owner that he allegedly assaulted:

According to WSJ.com, Hernandez showed up at a Gainesville, Fla., restaurant called The Swamp on May 4, 2007, only months after he had enrolled at Florida. He was 17 at the time.
The police report said Hernandez ordered two “alcoholic drinks,” after which he was presented a bill by a restaurant employee named Michael Taphorn. Hernandez refused to pay, leading to a “verbal altercation” between the two.
Eventually, Hernandez was asked to leave and was escorted out of the restaurant by Taphorn. Hernandez told police Taphorn “got in his face” and began yelling at him. As Taphorn turned to walk away, Hernandez punched him in the side of the head, rupturing Taphorn’s right eardrum.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
3:02 pm

I’d agree.. I think our offense will score , with or without their defensive mistakes. (and nothing leads me to believe they won’t make any or those too).

I’m not sure they have an offense that can score at will, without blown assignments, straight up.
Obviously they can have a big hand in forcing a lot of blown assignments. I think that’s their game.

At worst, the defenses are a wash.

I-DOG

July 24th, 2013
3:03 pm

Here is the story about UF being very cagey about the number of drug tests that he failed. Why can’t they just state that he failed only one drug test if that is the fact?

In a more specific denial, Steve McClain, senior associate athletics director, texted al.com: “I would go on record saying he didn’t fail six drug tests (at Florida).” That raises an obvious follow-up question: If he didn’t fail six drug tests, how many drug tests did he fail? That question remains unanswered by Florida officials.

Wait and See

July 24th, 2013
3:08 pm

If my fellow Georgia fans are sick of the idiotic trolls on here, then stop responding to their posts!! It’s that simple. Bob will post regardless but others will be discouraged and leave.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
3:08 pm

Now how on earth would you have expected Kim to have known any of that?

Stop burning Tebow’s jockstrap. Or is it hanging it out to dry? I don’t know, something, something, about a jock strap.

AltamahaDawg

July 24th, 2013
3:15 pm

Steve McClain turned to his associate and whispered “The jokes on them, ….we just gave up after 5.”

aaron in arizona

July 24th, 2013
3:24 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Clemson’s def coord was in his first yr last season? So, they may be improved on def just by having a yr into their new “system” on defense.

however, when I see scores and games against teams like ga tech, which was close til latter end of 4th qtr, and their schedule was not that difficult last yr, I still wonder if it’ll be the Clemson team that we’ve seen over past number of yrs that let’s games get out of control and lose games they should not be losing– especially defensively.

we’ll see how our defense responds to the challenge. Clemson runs that type of spread option/fast paced offense that we never seem to do well against.

anything I’m missing? GO DAWGS!

PigIron

July 24th, 2013
3:29 pm

This game benefited both Clemson and Georgia so far as pre-season predictions were concerned. Sports reporters want to pump up interest in this season opener. The media has a record of making the correct pick only about 20% of the time anyway.

At any rate, it was a good call for both programs to schedule a serious opening game. Too bad only one of them can benefit from it.