Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 70 Days to Go

70: Lynn Hughes, Quarterback/Safety #16 (1964 – 1966)

The road to an All-American career at safety for Lynn Hughes did not begin on the practice field covering receivers and tackling running backs in the secondary. Instead, Hughes began his Georgia career at quarterback during Vince Dooley’s first season at Georgia in 1964. Splitting time with Preston Ridlehuber, Hughes ended up the Dawgs leading passer in ’64, throwing for 408 yards. His best game came against Clemson, when he not only ran for a touchdown, but also scored on an interception return.

During the 1965 season, Hughes switched his main position from quarterback to safety. Hughes would enjoy a successful season in ’65, a year which he was also named an Academic All-American. During his senior season in 1966, he would be a key member of Vince Dooley’s first SEC Championship squad. His ability to play both offense and defense was on display, as he made key plays in two SEC come from behind victories displaying all of his talents.

During the homecoming game against Kentucky, Georgia trailed the Wildcats 15-14 at the half. When starting quarterback Kirby Moore went down with an injury, Dooley called on Hughes to help lead the Dawgs to victory. He capped a long scoring drive with a 10 yard touchdown run and the Dawgs would go on to the victory. With the score tied at 10 a few weeks later against the Gators, Hughes intercepted a Florida pass and returned it for a touchdown, leading to another Georgia victory.

Following the season, Hughes was named to the first team All-SEC and All-American teams. After playing in the NFL with the New York Giants, he returned to the SEC as an assistant at Vanderbilt and later back at Georgia.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 71 Days to Go

71: Bill Krug, Safety #42 (1975 -1977)

During Bill Krug’s sophomore season in 1975, Georgia would finish with a 9-2 record on the strength of Erk Russel’s defense. The group earned the name the Junkyard Dawgs and Krug was named to the All-SEC team for the first time.

In 1976, Krug and linebacker Ben Zambiasi returned to lead another strong Georgia defense as the Bulldogs would win the SEC Championship. In Georgia’s 21-0 victory over Alabama, Krug was named the Sports Illustrated defensive player of the week. For the season, Krug totaled 75 tackles (4th on the team) and had 2 interceptions. From his rover position, he was a surprise team leader in sacks (with 9)as well. He was named to the All-SEC for the second straight season.

Krug would enjoy a successful senior season in 1977, earning All-American honors in addition to his third straight year on the All-SEC team. He would total 73 primary tackles (second on the team to Zambiasi) and made a huge play during his final regular season game for Georgia. With the Dawgs tied at 10 against Georgia Tech, Krug recovered a fumble in Yellow Jacket territory that would eventually lead to a game winning field goal.

Bill Krug made the All-SEC squad each of his three years he suited up for the Red and Black. He was named to the AJC’s Deep South Best 11 and was a key member of some of the 1976 SEC Championship team that led the nation in scoring defense.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another Reason to Hate Soccer: The Vuvuzela

As a Georgia fan, I hate anything remotely related to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. This includes the annoying buzz sound that the Nerds like to make. Does it sound really stupid? YES. But does that make it any less annoying? NO.

So, it was an unfortunate surprise to find out that Georgia Tech fans had infiltrated the World Cup and taught everyone their mating call. Or so I thought. Come to find out, the annoying noise you hear during World Cup games comes from this:

This is a vuvuzela, or more commonly known as a stadium horn. These instruments have been played traditionally at soccer games in South Africa and have been introduced to the world this summer. Like it or hate it, these things will be coming to American sports arenas over the coming months. The Florida Marlins ran a promotion last week giving away modified versions of these things. The noise was so loud (despite a typical small Marlins crowd) that Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez and the umpire had a miscommunication on a double switch. The Marlins ended up losing the game and Gonzalez has now lost his job.

SEC football stadiums are loud. Our fans are passionate about the teams we support and, when combined with a days worth of tailgaiting and drinking, can often make enough noise to register as an earthquake (see LSU at night). Do we need another way to make the crowds louder? No. But apparently, the SEC does not plan to stop fans from bringing these instruments into games. From the SEC's statement:

The vuvuzela, along with any artificial noisemaker, will fall under the revamped guidelines of the Mississippi State cowbell, according to SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom. Fans are only allowed to use the cowbells (or vuvuzelas) during pregame, between quarters, halftime, timeouts, after scores and during possession changes.

Yeah, we'll see how that flies at LSU. You want to be the person who tries to wrestle a vuvuzela away from a Cajun who has polished off a fifth of Jim beam for playing his noise maker during an Alabama possession? BE MY GUEST.

Once again, soccer is trying to upset the peaceful order of things in sports in this country. Football fans are rowdy because they are passionate and drunk, not because of damn noise makers. Soccer, take your "beautiful game" and annoying noise makers away, and leave football alone!

The Countdown 2010: 72 Days to Go

72: Kevin McLee, Tailback #39 (1975-1977)

Kevin McLee, a Damn Good Dawg, was one of the dynamic offensive football players in the SEC during the 1970's. McLee came to the University of Georgia in 1974 from Uniontown, PA and wasted no time becoming a force in UGA's run heavy offense, earning 2nd team All-SEC and Newcomer of the Year honors in 1975 while playing with the great Glynn Harrison. He ran for 1,058 yards and 6 touchdowns the next season, helping the Bulldogs to the 1976 SEC Title and the National Championship game. While he didn't have the same type of season in 1977, getting 717 yards, he surpassed Frank Sinkwich as Georgia's all time leading rusher with 2,581 yards.

McLee was a big time player, as evidenced by his 198 yards rushing against Florida in 1976 when the Cocktail Party boasted both teams with top 10 rankings, earning him a place in the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame in 2005. He followed that performance up with 203 yards against Auburn the next week in what was, at the time, the greatest back to back rushing performance in UGA history. Kevin McLee passed away from a stroke in 2007 while living in California and will always be remembered as a great Georgia Bulldog.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 73 Days to Go

73: Mohamed Massaquoi, Wide Receiver #1 (2005 – 2008)

Mohamed Massaquoi was a Parade All-American receiver from the powerhouse high school football program, Independence, in Charlotte, NC. He was the North Carolina state record holder for career receiving yards (4,851) and touchdowns (76) and immediately made an impact during his freshman year in Athens. He caught his first career touchdown against Vanderbilt and had his breakout game against Auburn, catching six passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Georgia would go on to win the SEC Championship and Massaquoi was a contributor, finishing second on the team with 38 catches for 505 yards.

In 2006, Massaquoi would struggle through a disappointing sophomore season that saw him struggle with dropped passes. Late in the year, however, things began to turn around. With Georgia trailing Tech in the 4th quarter, Matt Stafford would find Mohamed for a late score and this great call from Larry Munson:

In Georgia’s magical run to the #2 final ranking in 2007, Massaquoi and Sean Bailey would provide Matthew Stafford with the down field threat that provided the perfect balance to the running of Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown. Just when it looked like Florida may try to regain the momentum Georgia had following the celebration at the beginning of the game, Massaqui broke free for this long score:

He continued to match big plays throughout his junior season, including a 57 yard score in the Blackout victory over Auburn. In his final season in Athens, Massaquoi and AJ Green combined to form one of the best 1-2 receiving punches in Georgia history. Massaquoi would be named first team All-SEC and was named the team’s permanent captain. He finished with 58 catches for 920 yards and 8 touchdowns.

For his career, Mohamed Massaquoi is Georgia’s fourth all-time leading receiver in both yards (2,282) and receptions (158). His best career game during the 2008 loss to Georgia Tech, where he totaled 11 catches and three touchdowns. He was selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, where he would lead the team in receiving.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 74 Days to Go

74: Royce Smith, Offensive Guard #66 (1969 – 1971)

“Savannah's proud of this young man,
We honor here tonight,
Who's famous now from Rabun Gap,
Right down to Tybee Light.

“In years to come when he looks back,
And thinks about this day,
Royce will know we honored him,
Because he led the way.”

These words appeared in a poem by Daivd Barrow honoring Garden City native Royce Smith on Royce Smith Day in Savannah in 1972. Smith attended Groves High School where he was recruited by Georgia assistant coach John Donaldson. Smith arrived in Athens undersized for an offensive lineman at only 190 pounds. But after committing to a weight lifting program, Smith was up to 250 during the following three seasons as a start on the Georgia line.

Smith enjoyed fine seasons in 1969 and 1970, as he earned All-SEC honors for his play at guard. In 1971, Smith anchored the Georgia line that would help the team finish 10-1 and ended the season with a victory over North Carolina in the Gator Bowl. He was named a consensus All-American and All-SEC and played in the Senior Bowl in 1972.

He was drafted in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints. He would later return home to Georgia, where he spent two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 75 Days to Go

75: Jeff Hipp, Safety #49 (1978 – 1980)

While all Georgia fans know the names of Walker, Woerner, and Scott, another key contributor to the 1980 National Championship team was safety Jeff Hipp. Originally from West Columbia, South Carolina, Hipp chose to play for Vince Dooley as opposed to staying home and playing for the Gamecocks. The 6’3’’, 190 pounder was a force from his safety position. After earning a starting role in 1979, he made two big plays that helped lead Georgia to a victory over LSU. He had an interception which led to the go ahead touchdown and sealed the victory when he caused a fumble by LSU running back LeRoid Jones. Georgia would hang on to win, 21-14. A few weeks later, Hipp would leave his mark on the rivalry with Georgia Tech. He recorded 3 interceptions in a defensive struggle and the Dawgs went on to a 16-3 victory.

In the first game of the 1980 season, Hipp played a key role in Georgia’s come from behind victory at Tennessee. Following the Herschel Walker touchdown (yes, the one where he ran over Bates), Hipp recovered a fumble that set Georgia up at the Vols’ 37. Georgia would eventually score to take the lead and win the game. Two games later, against Clemson, he made a game securing interception on a tipped pass by teammate Frank Ros:

Jeff Hipp would lead the nation in interceptions with 8 that fall. He also tallied 83 tackles and was named to the All-SEC first team. For his career, he ranks second all-time at Georgia in interceptions with 14 (for 121 return yards). He played in two collegiate all-star games (the Japan Bowl and the Hula Bowl) in 1981.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 76 Days to Go

76: Jeff Sanchez, Safety #31 (1982, 1984)

While the majority of Georgia players are recruited out of high school, every so often there is a player who becomes a star in Athens after beginning their football career in junior college. In 2010, Georgia hopes that Jakar Hamilton can repeat the success of another junior college transfer safety, Jeff Sanchez. After being named to the Junior College All-American team in 1980 and 1981 at Fullerton, Sanchez paired with Georgia great Terry Hoage to become one of the best 1-2 punches at safety the SEC has ever seen. The duo would finish 1-2 in the NCAA in interceptions that season (12 for Hoage, 9 for Sanchez). In the game that secured Georgia’s third consecutive SEC Championship, Sanchez broke up the final Auburn pass attempt and prompted one of Larry Munson’s signature calls:

For the 1982 season, he finished with 9 interceptions and 98 tackles and was named first team All-SEC.

An injury forced Sanchez to miss the entire 1983 season. As a redshirt senior in 1984, he continued to build on the success he started in 1982. He led the team in interceptions with four and finished third on the team in tackles. He was once again elected as a member of the All-SEC team and was named to the All-American team.

Despite playing only two seasons at Georgia, Sanchez is near the top of a number of key statistical categories. His tally of 9 interceptions in 1982 is the fourth best total in a single season in school history. His 13 career interceptions is tied for third. Just imagine if he could have played all four seasons in Athens.