Saturday, September 28, 2013
Get Ready for the Sacrilege ...
... or, shut up about Erk Russel and Vince Dooley.
I'm just tired of reading stupid posts about how great our defense was "back in the day." Yeah, Erk's defense gave up few points. In 1980, his defense was 9th in the nation in scoring defense, with a now-unimaginable 11.4 points per game surrendered. To me, that sounds like horseshit.
Regular readers of my blog know, of course, the love-hate relationship I have with numbers. I look around the SEC landscape today, and I see touchdowns being scored in bunches...and I have to ask myself, is it that the SEC defenses suck now...or were we simply 3 decades behind in offensive firepower? We've prided ourselves on being a defense-first league...but that seems to be no more. Surely we didn't just throw in the towel. What the hell?
Well, that got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, our glory defense of old wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Maybe, just maybe, the COMPETITION had something to do with it. So, I decided to peek into the holiest of holies. I decided to investigate the crown-jewel of the UGA history book. I decided to, dare I say it, consider debunking the MYTH that is the Great Georgia Defense of Erk Russel in 1980.
For those of you still reading, I applaud you. Now, let me admit that I dig into this with absolutely no sense of irony, as in 1980 I was not a Georgia fan. In fact, I wasn't a fan of any team at all. In the fall of 1980, when Herschel was running roughshod over linebackers and diving into endzones, I was toddling around my parents' split-level home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I had never heard of the Georgia Bulldogs, and definitely didn't know that 19 years later, I'd be strapping on a red helmet emblazoned with a Black G on the side. So, let me go ahead and say that for me, as for many fans, the 1980 season holds no mystique. As such, it is fair game for fire.
Here we go.
Richt and Company take a lot of flack for their record against top 10 opponents. So far in 2013, they have already defeated as many top-10 opponents as the 1980 team did. That's right, Notre Dame (7), was the sole top-10 team to be defeated by the "great" UGA team in 1980. National Championship resume's just weren't all that demanding back in the day I suppose.
Of the 12 games Georgia played, only 3 were true road games. The first was a 1-point victory over Tennessee to open the season. UGA 16-TN 15. By the way, Tennessee was a 5-6 team in 1980.
UGA also beat UK (27-0) and AU (31-21) at their homes. AU was 5-6 that season. UK, an impressive 3-8.
Georgia won the Cocktail Party against #20 Florida, who would go 8-4 that season, 26-21.
I suppose curent fans would look at UGA's 42-0 whipping of TA&M and think that's pretty good... right up until they realized that A&M was in the "Southwest" conference, and 4-7. Oops.
A 4-point victory over Clemson sits better with us than our 3-point loss this season, of course. Then there's the nasty fact that the tigers were a 6-5 team that year. Ugh.
We beat 3-8 Ole Miss 28-21. Wow. 3-8. They put up 21 on the vaunted Erkster.
Even State-Rival Georgia Tech put up 20 points that season, and they were 1-9-1.
YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. GT had ONE victory in 1980, but they put 20 on the board against UGA.
Sure, the goose eggs against UK and TAMU feel good. And of course, the one against 2-9 Vandy as well. But still...all this hootin' and hollerin' about the amazeballs Erk Russel defenses starts to sound a bit childish when you look at the offenses that defense faced.
TN 5-6 (1 pt MoV)
CLEM 6-5 (4 pt MoV)
USCe 8-4 (3 pt MoV)
FL 8-4 (5 pt MoV)
So, Erk's defense was able to go undefeated and sit 9th in the nation in scoring defense against a schedule that featured eight teams who posted sub-.500 records. In fact, there were more teams with 3 or less wins, than there were with 6 or more wins.
Please, shut up about the amazing Championship Defense and the Junkyard Dawgs and all of that. Understand that there were four teams, who were middling at best, who could have upset that apple cart. Things came together just as they had to in that season, and there was a fair amount of luck involved as well.
The Georgia defense of 2013 is very talented. They have faced MUCH STIFFER competition than that 1980 crew could ever have imagined. They've given up more points, yes. Luckily, on the other side of the ball is an offense that is lightyears ahead of the 1980 one (Herschel notwithstanding). So now they face another top-10 opponent in LSU, and it's time to see if the D has improved from its first few games out.
I've seen marked improvement every week. I hope you have, too. And I hope we all see it today.
We need it.... because the teams we play this season are much better than those that made up the "Championship Schedule" back in the day.