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Beating ‘Bama: Pulpwood Should Know

Andre "Pulpwood" Smith (L) runs for a touchdown against Alabama in 1984; (R) celebrates a touchdown during a recent UGA letterman's flag football game.

BROXTON, Ga.—With one of the most anticipated Georgia football games in recent memory looming against Alabama, I decided to take a different approach from the customary “beat story.” I reached out to a true rarity—an individual who not only could provide insight on a much-heralded game pitting Georgia and Alabama, but someone familiar with the series firsthand, having produced one of the greatest offensive outings ever by a Bulldog against the Crimson Tide.

“Where I’m from, playing a rival like the Florida Gators is a really big deal,” Andre “Pulpwood” Smith informed me from his home in Broxton, a small town in South Georgia located just outside of his hometown of Douglas. “As far as Alabama, I respected them, but never looked at them as a rivalry of Georgia. So, when we were about to play Alabama in ’84, I didn’t see it as a big-time game.”

To hear Pulpwood tell it, the hoopla surrounding the meeting between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide more than 30 years ago was a sharp contrast to that of this Saturday’s highly-publicized game in Athens.

A highly-touted tailback out of Coffee County High School in Douglas, Pulpwood initially signed with Texas A&M. However, he suddenly changing his mind, whereupon he was released from his grant-in-aid and arrived at the University of Georgia just prior to the start of the 1983 football season.

As a true freshman, Pulpwood appeared in just one game. And, entering his sophomore year, Georgia’s stable of backs was filled to capacity. Similarly to how the Bulldogs feature tailbacks Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Keith Marshall, and Brendan Douglas this season, Lars Tate, Cleveland Gary, Tron Jackson, and Tony Mangram were slotted at the position in 1984. There was no room for Pulpwood, so he was moved to fullback.

During the first three games of the season, Pulpwood had his moments, like a 50-yard run against Southern Mississippi for a touchdown. However, he was a fullback playing for “Tailback U,” and a school whose playbook essentially didn’t call for the fullback to run the ball—just block—until the offense reached past the 50-yard line on the opponent’s side of the field. Entering Georgia’s meeting with Alabama, Pulpwood had yet to carry the ball more than 10 times in a game.

This year, a significant matchup will be the Bulldogs’ rushing attack against the Tide’s stout defense, which was also the case in 1984. Opposing Tate, Gary, Jackson, and Mangram were All-Americans linebacker Cornelius Bennett and defensive tackle Jon Hand, and six other defenders who would eventually play in the NFL.

So, how does a strong running game have success against a stellar defense? According to Pulpwood, it comes down to one word, one simple word—“weapons.”

“If an offense has weapons, a running game can overcome a great run defense,” Pulpwood declared. “And, Georgia’s offense has a weapon up the middle, one around the ends, and another on the outside: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Malcolm Mitchell.”

In Birmingham in 1984, the Bulldogs also had a weapon up the middle: Pulpwood.

On its opening series, Georgia moved the ball to the 44-yard line—notably, Alabama’s 44-yard line—allowing the Bulldog offense “by the book” to start mixing in the fullback dive play. Pulpwood was given the ball on a simple dive off the option series and, just like that, he was gone—off to the races on a scoring jaunt. Roughly two minutes later, Georgia had possession on the Crimson Tide’s 34-yard line, and Pulpwood was given the ball on the exact same play call, resulting the exact same way—touchdown.

Beginning with the Alabama game through the regular season, Pulpwood led Georgia in rushing in five of eight games. Gaining a team-high 655 rushing yards, he averaged 6.0 yards per carry, and led the Bulldogs in touchdowns scored (and, probably the number of times a player provoked the coaching staff to alter the tailback-oriented playbook). Pulpwood’s 1984 season remains likely the greatest campaign the last half-century by a Bulldog who solely played the fullback position.

But, Pulpwood’s sophomore season—one in which he was recognized as MVP of the team—would be his final one at Georgia. In the off-season, he flunked out of school.

No longer seeking an education and playing football at Georgia, Pulpwood admittedly had way too much time on his hands. And, that’s when he really got into trouble—big trouble—as his life spiraled out of control.

“With no football, I went down the wrong path,” Pulpwood said. “Today’s players can learn from my mistakes, and cherish the fact they’re attending and playing football for the University of Georgia. It’s like heaven, not like real life. And, if you came from the other side of the tracks, it can keep you from having to return to the other side of the tracks.

“Man, I’d scare them out of their shoes,” Pulpwood continued, envisioning if he had the opportunity to speak to troubled players heading down the wrong path. “They’d be scared to leave the locker room.”

After roughly 15 years struggling with drug addiction, a life of crime, homelessness, and even getting shot and wounded, Pulpwood completely turned his life around, which included getting reacquainted with the program he turned his back on 30 years ago.

“UGA football gave me the opportunity to succeed, but then I let the program down,” Pulpwood said. “But, Coach [Mark] Richt and the Bulldogs gave me another chance to be part of the program. They welcomed me back like nothing bad had happened before.”

Today, Pulpwood works in Douglas, where he also regularly attends church. In addition, he coaches and counsels Coffee County’s youth, attempting to guide them down the right path. Still, he finds time to be part of the UGA football program, including regularly playing in the letterman’s flag football game each spring at Sanford Stadium, reminiscing about his playing days as a Bulldog, or providing much insight into the current team from his home in Broxton.

“If Georgia is ever going to beat Alabama, it’s this year—this year, baby,” Pulpwood responded when I asked him to close our interview by predicting the outcome of tomorrow’s game. “And, if the Bulldogs win this big-time game—beat ‘Bama—they’re back where they belong: with the spotlight on them.”

Beating ‘Bama, and being in the spotlight: a couple of things Pulpwood should know about.

Dogs Start Preparing for Tide (from UGA)

ATHENS, Ga. — The eighth-ranked Georgia football team began preparations for its third conference game on Monday with a 90-minute workout in shells on the Woodruff Practice Fields.

The Bulldogs (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) will entertain No. 13 Alabama (3-1, 0-1) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Sanford Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS.

“Our Monday approach was the same as last Monday — we’re still focusing on the little things and on improving,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We have to use each day to get better, correct our mistakes and get our plan in. We need to learn this plan front and back so that we’ll be able to execute it with confidence. We need the scouts to keep busting it and giving us a good look.”

Richt announced the captains for the Alabama game will be tailback Nick Chubb and tackle John Theus on offense, linebacker Leonard Floyd on defense, and tailback Sony Michel on special teams.

In other news on Monday, it was announced that the Saturday, Oct. 10, game between Georgia and Tennessee in Knoxville will kick off at 3:30 p.m. It will mark Georgia’s third appearance on CBS this season.

Georgia Takes Over In Second Half to Slam Southern, 48-6

In Georgia's 48-6 victory over Southern, GREYSON LAMBERT, as was the case a week ago, nearly had a perfect passing day.

ATHENS, Ga.—During a rainy-turned-gloomy day in Athens, the Bulldogs overcame a somewhat dreary first-half performance to wallop visiting FCS foe Southern, 48-6.

Seventh-ranked Georgia, who entered the game as a staggering 50-point favorite, led the Jaguars by only 14 points at halftime. In the first half, Georgia scored on a touchdown run by sophomore Sony Michel, a 24-yard pass from quarterback Greyson Lambert to tailback Nick Chubb, and two field goals by senior Marshall Morgan.

Southern scored its points midway through the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by Lenard Tillery, who finished with a team-high 75 rushing yards on 19 carries. Trailing 17-6, the Jaguars’ fake on a two-point try ended with an incomplete pass.

“I challenged our line at halftime,” head coach Mark Richt said following the game. “Our backs were slamming into trash [in the first half]. There was no space. … The whole key was when the line took over.”

And, how the line took over in the third quarter…

Georgia opened the second half by driving 65 yards in five plays, including four rushes by Chubb, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run from the sophomore sensation to give the Bulldogs a 27-6 advantage. Less than five minutes later, Lambert threw his second touchdown pass of the game, completing a 23-yard score to senior Malcolm Mitchell.

Mitchell finished with game highs in both receptions (five) and receiving yards (96). Following up his near-perfect performance against South Carolina a week ago, Lambert was nearly perfect again, completing 9 of 10 passes for 146 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Since halftime of the Vanderbilt game, he has remarkably completed 89.8 percent of his pass attempts (44 of 49).

“I haven’t really done anything differently,” Lambert said regarding his play since the first half at Vanderbilt. “I have just kept playing. Bad things are going to happen and good things…You have to keep playing and put those things behind you.”

Leading 34-6 midway through the third quarter, the Bulldogs kept playing, and dominating.

Needing 18 yards to achieve his 12th consecutive 100-yard rushing game, Chubb scored on a long, 49-yard jaunt—his third touchdown of the game.

“Coming into the half, [the offensive line was] like ‘how many [yards] do you need Nick [to get 100]?’” Chubb said following the victory. “And, I was like ‘ya’ll care more about it than I do.’”

Chubb finished with 131 rushing yards on merely 15 carries, and also had the 24-yard reception for the score. Chubb “officially” tied Herschel Walker’s school record for most consecutive 100-yard rushing games. However, Georgia records don’t consider bowl games prior to 2002. If so, Chubb would still trail Walker’s “unofficial” record of 13 consecutive 100-yard rushing performances by one game.

With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Bulldogs tacked on another touchdown when Michel raced 58 yards for a score, shaking off a would-be tackler in the process. Michel finished with 75 rushing yards on only six carries. His two touchdowns give him seven for the season, which is tied with Chubb for the team lead.

Leading 48-6, Georgia’s offense was kept out in the end zone during the final quarter due in large part to a missed field goal by backup placekicker Patrick Beless, a fumbled punt return, and a lot of reserves seeing the field. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs’ defense continued to wreak havoc on the Southern offense.

Notably, after the Jaguars had eight first downs and 150 total yards (4.3 yards per play) in the first half, they were held to two first downs and 34 yards (1.5 yards per play) after halftime.

Next up for Georgia is its much-anticipated home affair a week from today with Alabama—an opponent who assuredly won’t allow the Bulldogs to take a quarter, or an entire half off until they kick it into high gear.

“We’ll find out what we did wrong, correct it and get better at what we do,” Richt said when asked about getting ready for Alabama. “We have so much to get better on, and it’s a task we take very seriously.”

DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits

In Georgia's 48-6 victory over Southern, GREYSON LAMBERT, as was the case a week ago, nearly had a perfect passing day.

GEORGIA 20, Southern 6


  • GREYSON LAMBERT missed on his third pass attempt of the game, breaking his streak of 22 consecutive pass completions. However, he’d complete his next four attempts before the half. Since halftime of the Vanderbilt game, Lambert has remarkably completed 41 of his 46 pass attempts.
  • Limited to 31 rushing yards on 9 attempts in the first half, NICK CHUBB may have his work cut out for him in the second half to increase his consecutive 100-yard rushing streak to 12 games.
  • With his 6-yard touchdown run, SONY MICHEL leads Georgia with touchdowns scored on the season with six (three rushing, three receiving)—the same total he had for the entire 2014 season (five rushing, one receiving).


  • Southern’s elusive WILLIE QUINN, who entered the game averaging 165.7 all-purpose yards per game and nearly 27 yards every time he touched the ball, has gained 93 all-purpose yards in the first half, while averaging 15.5 yards per touch.
  • After allowing opponents to average just 3.1 yards per rush through the first three games, Georgia’s RUSH DEFENSE allowed Southern 5.1 yards per carry (16-81) in the first half.


  • After not blocking a single punt during both the 2013 and 2014 seasons, MALKOM PARRISH’s tipped punt in the first quarter was Georgia’s third blocked punt in just 3½ games this season.
  • MARSHALL MORGAN’s two first-half field goals equaled his total for the Bulldogs’ first three games this season.

All Attention Is On History-Making Meeting vs. Southern

ATHENS, Ga.—When asked about the much anticipated meeting with Alabama on October 3rd, Mark Richt gave a similar answer to an inquiring member of the media this week—“I’ll talk about that next week”—to the response he gave DAWGTIME when we asked him back in the summer about facing the Crimson Tide: “Game One (Louisiana at Monroe)—that’s what we’re worried about, and getting ready for.”

The Georgia head coach’s one-game-at-a-time approach is evidently shared with the rest of the team this season. However, this attitude apparently was not maintained by all Bulldog players in previous years.

With the way last season happened with the Florida game (Georgia entered as a double-digit favorite, but lost by 18) and everything, I feel like that was a learning experience for us,” standout senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said this week. “With the guys we have this year, I feel like [looking ahead is] not going to be a problem this year. We’re going to make sure that we take this one game at a time and treat every opponent the same.”

The seventh-ranked Bulldogs’ opponent, Southern University, is an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) located in Baton Rouge, La., and member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Notably, for each of the previous two seasons, the Jaguars won nine games and reached the SWAC Championship Game, winning the conference title in 2013.

Still, Southern coming to Athens, although exhibiting the school’s acclaimed marching band, the “Human Jukebox,” signifies a probable poor outing against the Bulldogs on the gridiron. The Jaguars’ lone loss in three games this season was a 62-15 rout at Louisiana Tech, and they are expected this Saturday to be at least a 50-point underdog. This would be the most Georgia has been favored by since point spreads were routinely established for FBS vs. FCS games beginning in 2008:

  • -45 Idaho State (2010)
  • -44’ Charleston Southern (2014)
  • -42 Tennessee Tech (2009)
  • -41’ Florida Atlantic (2012)
  • -41 Troy (2014)
  • -40 Appalachian State (2013)

Nevertheless, with Southern on the docket and Alabama looming next week, according to Jay Rome, the Bulldogs are not having a difficult time staying focus for this Saturday. “We’re one week at a time,” said the senior tight end. “Anybody can beat anybody. You have to play [the game]. It’s not a video game (smiling); you can’t just simulate the game.”

As far as who is primarily responsible for keeping the Bulldogs’ minds off of Alabama, and on the task at hand, does the coaching staff assume the role, or are the senior leaders, like Jenkins, Rome, and others, responsible?

“It’s a mix of both [coaches and players],” junior receiver Kenneth Towns replied. “They all help us focus not on that game, or another game, but this week. The next week is going to happen; we just have to take care of business this Saturday.”

Totally taking care of business this Saturday means containing senior receiver Willie Quinn, who is one of the most exciting players in all of the FCS. Quinn is responsible for five touchdowns this season scored four different ways: receiving, via kickoff return, punt return, and passing. Although standing at only 5-foot-5 and merely 145 pounds, Quinn might seem easy to overlook, but he is one Jaguar the Bulldogs aren’t taking lightly.

Another aspect of Saturday’s game with the Jaguars which shouldn’t be taken lightly is the fact it’ll be Georgia’s first meeting with an HBCU. In fact, entering this season only six SEC teams, with Florida being the first only a dozen years ago, had faced a historically-black football program:

  • 2003: Florida (Florida A&M)
  • 2007: South Carolina (S.C. State)
  • 2009: South Carolina (S.C. State), Mississippi State (Jackson State)
  • 2010: Mississippi State (Alcorn State)
  • 2012: Mississippi State (Jackson State), Texas A&M (S.C. State), Auburn (Alabama A&M)
  • 2013: Mississippi State (Alcorn State), Kentucky (Alabama State)

Although Richt indicated this week the SEC schedules when the teams in the conference face an FCS opponent, as far as what FCS opponent is scheduled, specifically Southern for Georgia, the Bulldogs’ head coach was seemingly unaware. Therefore, DAWGTIME reached out to the one man who would know the details of the scheduling of Southern.

“I must give credit to Josh Brooks, our former Associate AD who is now the AD at Millsaps College,” said UGA athletics director Greg McGarity. “Josh was in charge of football scheduling during his time here at UGA, and brought the idea to the table.”

As far as if there were any stimulating factors in scheduling the Jaguars, like Southern being a HBCU, McGarity and company were well aware of the historical value it would provide for both schools.

“It made perfect sense for us, the date worked for SU, and they were excited to have the opportunity to play us,” McGarity said. “We did feel it would be significant to host a HBCU institution, since it had never happened [before].”

Accordingly, for fans trekking to Sanford Stadium this Saturday, they can expect a Georgia team not looking past their guests; therefore, a likely blowout victory for the Bulldogs. However, perhaps even more so than a dazzling halftime show by the visiting “Human Jukebox,” they can be excited by the fact they’ll be witnessing a first in the history of UGA football.

Tramel Terry Transferring from Georgia

JRCFB_14_7610Defensive back Tramel Terry has made the decision to transfer to another institution
with hopes of more opportunities to play according to an announcement Wednesday by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

“I appreciate the opportunity provided by Georgia,” said Terry. “I have many friends there but believe I’ll have a better chance for playing time somewhere else.”

“Playing time is important to every player and I understand the way he feels,”
said Richt. “We wish him nothing but success at his next school and will
assist any way we can in the process.”

The Perfect Bulldog Honored In the Perfect Bulldog Town

Against Florida in 1979, Rex Robinson breaks the school record for most consecutive point-after touchdowns made (61) previously established by Allan Leavitt.

During the lead-up to the South Carolina game, a prestigious honor was bestowed involving another Georgia rival, which kind of got lost in the hoopla of last week.

UGA football greats, Rex Robinson, a placekicker from 1977-1980, and Richard Seymour, a defensive tackle from 1997-2000, were inducted into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame. For Robinson, although he was certainly pleased to be honored, the announcement was rather surprising.

“It really blew me away…I was truly, and seriously surprised,” Robinson admitted. “I’ve always been happy for all the guys who were inducted before me, but I never gave it much thought that I’d actually get selected because I never had that ‘moment’ in a Florida game.”

Perhaps Robinson never had that “moment”—no game-winning field goal against the Gators, or the like—but of the nearly 40 Georgia players, including two placekickers, inducted before him during the hall of fame’s 20-year history, few were as consistent, and likely none were as perfect.

In four games against Florida, Robinson was a perfect 10 for 10 on extra points, and six for six on field goals. In the history of the series, his 28 points scored remains the fourth-most by a Bulldog, trailing only Herschel Walker (48 points), Charley Trippi (48), and Cy Grant (33).

“I had no clue—totally in the dark,” Robinson said after I informed him of his kicking perfection and point total in the series. “But, it feels good that I never missed, and I’m shocked about the scoring [total], as well.”

When asked about being part of Georgia-Florida lore, Robinson promptly recalled his first game in Jacksonville—a 22-17 loss to the Gators as a freshman. “That’s when [receiver] Wes Chandler (scored three touchdowns) nearly defeated us single-handedly,” Robinson said. “But, that motivated us to play harder the next year [in 1978]. Then, it became the norm for us to win those [rivalry] games more often than not.”

In 1978, the Bulldogs bounced back in the series by nipping the Gators, 24-22. As a junior the following season in a 33-10 win over Florida, Robinson not only broke the SEC career record for most made field goals (36) but, more memorable to the placekicker, he broke the school record for most consecutive point-after touchdowns made (61) previously established by Allan Leavitt—the starting Georgia kicker just prior to Robinson.

“That was probably the most significant moment for me [in the series], personally,” Robinson said regarding his PAT record. “I always just focused on doing my job—doing my part—whether trying to score points, or kickoff well.”

As a senior in 1980, Robinson’s final game in the series was the memorable 26-21 Georgia victory, when the “Belue-to-Scott” 93-yard miracle pass handed the Gators’ their third consecutive setback to the Bulldogs.

Robinson ended his Georgia career by having made 101 consecutive PATs in a time when making an extra point wasn’t quite as automatic as it is today; only about 90 to 92 percent of PATs in major-college football were successfully made. Making 16 of 22 field goals and a perfect 36 for 36 on PATs, Robinson was recognized as a first-team All-American on the Bulldogs’ national championship squad in 1980. His senior season was also the third consecutive year he ranked in the nation’s top 10 in field goals made per game.

Nevertheless, Robinson is admittedly “not one of those guys who can recount play after play, or kick after kick.” Therefore, personal accolades and statistics aside, he recalls the Georgia-Florida rivalry during his time from a broader standpoint.

“Georgia-Florida was always an exciting week because it was different,” Robinson said. “And, the game seemed to have a really excited home crowd—a different electricity than even a lot of our home games would have.”

Finally, the legendary placekicker, who was 100 percent accurate in the neutral-sited rivalry bearing its own hall of fame, fittingly spoke of the game’s neutrality: “Some people talk about Jacksonville being in Florida (and, not necessarily a neutral site), but the city is a huge and, in a way, the perfect Bulldog town.”

Lambert Breaks Records As Dogs Crush ‘Cocks, 52-20

ATHENS, Ga.—Following an average passing performance last Saturday at Vanderbilt, including a poor first half when he missed on all five of his pass attempts, quarterback Greyson Lambert came under some fire during the week. There were those Bulldog enthusiasts who questioned whether he should be Georgia’s starting signal caller, or not.

How did the graduate transfer from Virginia respond against South Carolina tonight in Sanford Stadium?

Lambert was near-perfect, completing 24 of 25 passes against the Gamecocks for 330 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 52-20 rout by the seventh-ranked Bulldogs.

“Can you believe [Lambert] had an incompletion–what’s wrong with him?” head coach Mark Richt joked following the win. “It was one of those days where you just leave him alone. … We were good offensively and Lambert was just so hot.”

The Bulldogs were indeed good offensively—remarkably good.

Georgia had 32 first downs for the game, 576 total yards, averaged 9.1 yards per play, didn’t punt for the first time until there were just mere seconds remaining in the third quarter, and scored on its first six possessions of the game. Yet, the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks were knotted at three at the end of the opening quarter as two long drives—one for each team—settled for field goals.

By the mid-point of the second quarter, Georgia had tacked on two touchdowns—scoring runs by sophomores Nick Chubb and Sony Michel—to take a 17-3 lead. However, South Carolina answered and pulled within seven points following a touchdown run by quarterback Perry Orth. Otherwise, Orth was rather limited in making his first career start for the Gamecocks, completing just 6 of 17 passes for 66 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

The Bulldogs answered Orth’s scoring run with an 8-play, 78-yard drive which took less than two minutes, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Lambert to Malcolm Mitchell. Mitchell had a stellar performance as Lambert’s primary target, catching a game-high 8 passes for 122 yards.

Leading 24-13 at halftime, Georgia came out in the second half, again moving more than 70 yards in less than two minutes to a touchdown. Three plays later, Dominick Sanders, who scored on an interception return at Vanderbilt, almost did it again tonight, intercepting Orth and returning it 33 yards before being tackled at the Gamecocks’ 11-yard line. Both early-second-half possessions ended the same for the Bulldogs: an  11-yard touchdown pass from Lambert to Michel.

Michel finished the game with 51 rushing yards on eight carries, three receptions for 32 yards, and scored three touchdowns.

Georgia extended its lead to 45-13 late in the third quarter following a 7-yard touchdown run by Chubb. As always, Chubb was spectacular, rushing for 159 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. And, like always, he was rather humble, giving praise only to others, following the win.

“It was a great night,” Chubb said. “South Carolina stacked the box and our line did good as always.”

Early in the fourth quarter, South Carolina backup quarterback Lorenzo Nunez scored on a 7-yard run. In true Steve Spurrier fashion, the head coach of the Gamecocks routinely rotated Orth and Nunez, while seemingly having a difficult time figuring out which quarterback to settle on. Rushing for 76 yards on 10 carries, Nunez was impressive running the ball but, like Orth, struggled passing, throwing for only 18 yards on five pass attempts.

After yielding 231 yards of offense to the Commodores last week in the fourth quarter alone, the Bulldogs were also impressive defensively tonight, allowing just 258 total yards and 20 points to a team which had averaged 37 points per game against Georgia their previous four meetings.

Midway through the final quarter, tailback Keith Marshall capped the game’s scoring, and the Bulldogs’ 32-point blowout win, with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Notably, Lambert’s 24 of 25 passing night set an NCAA record for Best Completion Percentage at 96.0% (minimum of 20 completions). Also, he completed his last 20 passes in a row, also a Georgia record, which topped Mike Bobo’s mark of 19 straight at the 1998 Outback Bowl against Wisconsin.

When asked about the records he broke following the game, Lambert was grateful, but brief: “It’s just a huge blessing. I had no idea this was going to happen.”

Honestly, no one could have possibly knew Lambert’s near-perfect passing performance was going to happen. In addition, some Bulldog enthusiasts—the same ones who questioned only hours ago whether Lambert should be Georgia’s starting quarterback—might reconsider, acknowledging Lambert is now a “huge blessing” to an already lethal offensive attack.

DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits

GEORGIA 24, South Carolina 13


  • With Georgia scoring only a field goal in the first quarter, the Bulldogs’ streak of scoring a touchdown in 14 consecutive quarters dating back to last season ended.
  • After completing 0 of 5 passes in the first half against Vanderbilt a week ago, Greyson Lambert was nearly perfect in the first half tonight, completing 14 of 15 passes for 190 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions.
  • With his 2-yard scoring run early in the second quarter, Nick Chubb has scored 16 touchdowns in his 11 starts as a Bulldog, which is the same number of touchdowns Herschel Walker scored in his first 11 starts at Georgia from 1980-1981.


  • After allowing an average of 37 points to the Gamecocks their last four meetings (2011-2014), the Bulldogs limited South Carolina to 13 points in the first half.
  • Georgia’s defense limited the ‘Cocks to 150 total yards in the first half, while the Bulldogs’ offense gained 323.


  • After just 28 percent of Georgia’s kickoffs went for touchbacks in 2013 and 2014 combined (52 of 185), 53 percent (9 of 17) have been touchbacks thus far this season in 2½ games.
  • The Bulldogs uncharacteristically had an opponent have success on kickoff returns, allowing the Gamecocks 106 yards on three returns in the first half.

Special-Teams Snafu vs. Commodores Could’ve Been Costly

Coach John Lilly accepts full blame for Georgia's third misplayed pooch kickoff the last seven games.

ATHENS, Ga.—Two seasons ago, Georgia’s overall special teams play was near inept; however, the Bulldogs’ not-so-special unit nearly did a complete turnaround in 2014, particularly on their kickoff/punt offensive and defensive units. Yet, at Vanderbilt last Saturday, Georgia committed a familiar special-teams snafu which transformed what had seemed like a comfortable victory to an instant nail-biter.

After the Commodores cut their 24-6 deficit to 10 points with 4:33 remaining, they elected to attempt an onside kick against Georgia’s “hands team.” However, instead of the ball getting kicked short towards the team, it was looped over their heads, bouncing to the left of returner Reggie Davis, who was situated at his 25-yard line. Davis had little chance of gathering the ball, which Vanderbilt recovered inside Georgia’s 20-yard line.

Notably, for the Bulldogs dating back to last season, it was the third opposing pooch kickoff they’ve misplayed in their last seven games.

“If everybody did what they’re supposed to do [on the kickoff], there would have been a lot more time [for Davis to field the kick], and for him to get on it safely with a lot less drama,” head coach Mark Richt said following the Vanderbilt game. “But, it was absolutely one of the things that could have cost us.”

Before special teams play would continue to cost the Bulldogs games in 2014, Richt attempted to improve the overall unit by having it coordinated by two assistants: John Lilly (offense) and Mike Ekeler (defense). And, ever since then, the new system has helped to vastly improve the kickoff/punt units—for the most part.

For kick coverage: After allowing a combined three touchdowns on kickoff and punt returns in 2013, and a combined eight from 2011 through 2013, the Bulldogs since have yielded kickoff and punt return averages of only 19.2 and 4.4, respectively, and, what’s more, no touchdowns.

For kickoff/punt returns: After averaging a lowly 2.9 yards per punt return in 2013—the all-time program low—Georgia has averaged 12.2 yards per return ever since. A 18.6 yards per kickoff return average two seasons ago has improved by nearly two yards to 20.5. And, after returning no kicks for touchdowns in 2013, the Bulldogs have toted five back for scores (three punt returns, two kickoff returns) in the 15 games since, including four by sophomore Isaiah McKenzie (three punt returns, one kickoff return). Coming on a punt return, McKenzie’s fourth return for a touchdown was the first score of Georgia’s 31-14 win Saturday at Vanderbilt.

But, as indicated, when it comes to fielding pooch kickoffs, the Bulldogs’ recent opposition has found a way to retain possession, and deep in Georgia territory. At Kentucky last year, Georgia’s Quayvon Hicks fumbled a pooch kickoff, which was recovered by the Wildcats at the Bulldogs’ 23-yard line. Just three games later against Georgia Tech, a Yellow Jacket kick simply wasn’t fielded and was recovered at Georgia’s 27-yard line. And, finally, there was the recent muffed pooch kickoff at Vanderbilt. All three kickoffs were kicked to the right side of the field, descending between the Bulldogs’ 25 and 30-yard lines.

Coach Lilly, who is in charge of the kickoff return team, said that the scenario which unfolded against the Commodores was, first of all, “the worst time to have a kickoff return.” There were more than four minutes remaining, and Vanderbilt had two timeouts left; therefore, it wasn’t even a certainty they’d attempt an onside kick to begin with. Secondly, even if speculated correctly that an onside kick is coming, there are a number of type of kicks, and their lengths, which could result. Regardless, Lilly takes full blame for the misplayed pooch kick.

“That was my fault,” Lilly declared. “If things don’t happen right [on kickoff returns], I’m going to be the one…who says, ‘what have I said, or not said, done, or not done, that made it happen the way that it did?’”

Following the game, Richt claimed he was going to spend some time to “see what everyone else does in the country” if they think it’s obvious, or at least the good possibility of an onside kick being attempted. By Tuesday, he had concluded “most everybody lines up just the way we did.”

“So, we’ve got to learn to anticipate better…to learn to teach our return men to read [the kicker] a little bit better and get a jump on it, so to speak,” Richt added. “Alignment was a little bit of an issue that we didn’t align just quite the way we should have. But yeah, we looked around a good bit and we feel like it was more of an execution issue.”

And, as for the man who is mostly responsible for the players’ execution on kickoff returns, a valuable lesson was learned in Nashville.

“We had more than one guy not do the right thing which, to me, is on me,” Lilly said. “I’m glad it’s a lesson we learned in a game…that didn’t cost us a victory.”