The Georgia Bulldogs Playbook: Inside the Huddle for the Greatest Plays in Bulldogs History

The Georgia Bulldogs Playbook: Inside the Huddle for the Greatest Plays in Bulldogs History

by Patrick Garbin, Charley Trippi


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629371221
Publisher: Triumph Books
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Series: Playbook
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 567,960
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Patrick Garbin is regarded as an authority and historian of college football and is a freelance sports writer. He also serves as the UGA football Beat Writer for He is the author of nine books, including About Them Dawgs! and "Then Vince Said to Herschel . . ." . He is a UGA graduate and lives in the Athens, Georgia area. Charley Trippi is a former Hall of Fame halfback and quarterback for the Chicago Cardinals, now known as the Arizona Cardinals, of the National Football League. As a student at the University of Georgia, he was a two-time All-American selection, the Most Valuable Player in the 1943 Rose Bowl, recipient of the Maxwell Award, and played during a national championship season. He lives in Athens, Georgia.

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The Georgia Bulldogs Playbook

Inside the Huddle for the Greatest Plays in Bulldogs History

By Patrick Garbin

Triumph Books

Copyright © 2015 Patrick Garbin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63319-396-3



Jeff Sanchez and Ronnie Harris break up Auburn's pass in end zone as Georgia wins third consecutive SEC title

November 13, 1982

The undefeated Bulldogs entered their game at Auburn in 1982 having just been ranked No. 1 in both major polls only a few days before. The conference championship and a possible national title were at stake for Georgia, whereas a win by the Tigers could propel them to a first-place tie with the 'Dogs in the SEC.

Auburn had one of the most extraordinary running games in college football. Quarterback Randy Campbell, fullback Ron O'Neal, and tailbacks Lionel James and Bo Jackson formed the Tigers' wishbone formation — an offense not normally associated with passing. Despite running the wishbone, however, Auburn's passing attack could be dangerous and was actually much more prolific than Georgia's.

Down 19–14 with 49 seconds remaining in the game, Auburn was on Georgia's 21-yard line but faced a fourth down and 17 for a first down. Campbell, who had some success throwing against an outstanding Georgia secondary, dropped back to throw. He floated a lofty pass in the end zone for split end Mike Edwards. Georgia's safety Jeff Sanchez, cornerback Ronnie Harris, and Edwards all jumped for the ball, but none of them came down with it. The football dropped harmlessly to the turf, and the Bulldogs, taking over on downs, were only 42 seconds away from their third consecutive conference title.

Early in the fourth quarter, with the Tigers trailing by six points, the 5'7", 165-pound James scored on an 87-yard run — at the time, the second-longest rushing or passing play in Auburn history. Losing 14–13, Georgia began its possession from its 20-yard line. Thirteen plays and 80 yards later, Herschel Walker scored on a three-yard run, and the Bulldogs regained the lead. On the drive, Walker rushed for 37 yards on eight carries, and quarterback John Lastinger completed a key third-down-and-six pass to Herman Archie for 17 yards; Georgia completed only three passes for the entire game for 26 yards. Walker finished the contest with 177 rushing yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns en route to eventually capturing the Heisman Trophy.

With a little less than nine minutes left in the game, Auburn began a drive from its own 20-yard line and soon reached Bulldogs territory; a James run carried the ball to Georgia's 14-yard line with 3:04 remaining. A penalty on Auburn moved the ball back five yards, and Georgia's Tony Flack followed by tackling Jackson two yards behind the line of scrimmage. From the 21-yard line, Georgia defensive end Dale Carver made one of the most significant plays of the year for the Bulldogs by sacking Campbell for a nine-yard loss with a little more than a minute left on the clock. On third and 26, from the 30-yard line, Campbell completed a nine-yard pass to tight end Ed West.

On Campbell's fourth-down pass into the end zone, Edwards, the intended target, later claimed all he saw were two Bulldogs defenders leaping in front of him. Edwards had been lined up on the outside with Georgia's Harris while Sanchez was positioned on the inside with a different receiver. As Campbell threw toward Edwards, Sanchez abandoned his man and went for the ball. Both Sanchez and Harris leapt for the ball in front of Edwards and broke up the potential winning pass.

From its 21-yard line, Georgia ran out the remaining seconds on the clock and seized a 19–14 victory. Soon afterward, coach Vince Dooley was carried off Auburn's field on the shoulders of his players, celebrating his 150th career victory and his sixth Southeastern Conference championship.


Like Jeff Sanchez, Ronnie Harris also attended a California junior college, came to Georgia, and was instantly starting in the Bulldogs' defensive backfield. Harris, from San Diego, earned recognition in his second game at Georgia by intercepting two passes against a team from his home state, the California Golden Bears. From his left cornerback position, Harris led the Bulldogs in '81 with four interceptions, not including the two he corralled against Pittsburgh's Dan Marino in the Sugar Bowl. Harris' two interceptions against the Panthers are tied for a school record for most interceptions in a bowl game.

As a senior in '82, Harris' late interception of Brigham Young University's Steve Young sealed a three-point Georgia victory. Three games later, he would pick off two passes against Ole Miss. Harris finished his final season as a Bulldog with four interceptions and was chosen to play in the 1983 Japan Bowl, a college all-star game.

Following college, Harris made the roster of the 1985 Chicago Blitz of the United States Football League. He currently is a social studies teacher and head coach at Oglethorpe County Middle School, located in Lexington, Georgia.


As four receivers ran toward Georgia's end zone, Auburn quarterback Randy Campbell dropped back to pass. As a Bulldogs defender rushed up the middle and another blitzed from his left, Campbell was forced to throw earlier than desired. He barely got off a high, wobbly pass from his 29. The desperation heave descended left of intended receiver Mike Edwards and fell incomplete between Georgia's Jeff Sanchez and Ronnie Harris.



Misplayed kickoff in 1981 Sugar Bowl is the difference in a win over Notre Dame

January 1, 1981

At the conclusion of the 1980 regular season, perhaps never before in college football had there been so many questions regarding which team deserved to be ranked No. 1. Georgia ended its regular season ranked first in both major polls and with a perfect record, the only major college football team to finish unscathed. Nevertheless, there was some question as to whether or not Georgia was entitled to play for the national championship. The Bulldogs were receiving little respect from those in the media or their opponent in the upcoming Sugar Bowl, the University of Notre Dame. Georgia's schedule was perceived as having been weak, and the Bulldogs were one-point underdogs to the Fighting Irish. Many felt Georgia would need the luck of the Irish to defeat Notre Dame.

Georgia's Rex Robinson kicked off late in the opening quarter of a 3–3 tie game. Robinson's high kick drifted down around the 5-yard line. Notre Dame's Jim Stone and Ty Barber did not field the ball, which bounced between the two return men. Stone, realizing their mistake, attempted to recover the bouncing and free ball. As Georgia's Steve Kelly blocked Stone away from the play, his brother Bob Kelly recovered the ball on Notre Dame's 1-yard line. After the change of possession, Georgia's Herschel Walker dove into the end zone for a touchdown two plays later. The Bulldogs had capitalized on a critical Notre Dame mistake by recovering, in essence, a 59-yard onside kick, which led to a 10–3 lead.

On the first possession of the game, the Fighting Irish passed their way down the field to a field goal by Harry Oliver. Georgia's initial offensive drive resulted in Walker separating his shoulder on the second play and the Bulldogs losing yardage and being forced to punt. Notre Dame came right down the field again and set up for another Oliver field goal. Seldom-used freshman Terry Hoage blocked Oliver's kick, and instead of trailing 6–0, the Bulldogs had the ball in Fighting Irish territory down by only three points.

Georgia reached Notre Dame's 18-yard line, but an 11-yard sack of quarterback Buck Belue forced the Bulldogs to attempt a field goal on fourth down. Robinson's 46-yard field goal was successful, and the game was tied.

The ensuing kickoff has been called "one of the strangest plays in the history of college football." For Georgia, however, it was one of the greatest. Fortunately, Stone and Barber were fielding the kick near a loud and raucous Bulldogs crowd. Stone, the "call-man," called for Barber to field Robinson's kick, but Barber could not hear him over the crowd noise. The two had also misplayed the bowl's opening kickoff because of the noise, although Stone was able to recover and down the kick in the end zone. This time, however, there was no recovery for Notre Dame as the older Kelly brother gladly accepted the Irish's gift just outside the goal line.

After the recovered kick, Belue was stopped for no gain, but Walker, fully recovered from his injury, scored on second down and Georgia took a lead it would never relinquish.

The Hoage-blocked field goal and the recovered kickoff were just two of several mistakes made by Notre Dame in losing the Sugar Bowl. On the Fighting Irish's first possession of the second quarter, they fumbled deep in their own territory, and Georgia recovered on the 22-yard line. Three plays later, Walker scored again, and the Bulldogs led 17–3.

In Georgia's 17–10 win over Notre Dame, the Bulldogs were outperformed in every statistical facet of the game, except the number of miscues. The Fighting Irish's consequential errors included three interceptions, one fumble, a blocked field goal, and two missed field goals. However, none was bigger than the Bulldogs' first-quarter "onside kick" — the difference in the University of Georgia capturing its first undisputed national title in any sport.


Bob and Steve Kelly were both stars at Benedictine High School in Savannah, Georgia. Bob, two years older, played for Furman University in 1976 but transferred to Georgia after one year. In 1978 he was the Bulldogs' starting safety as only a sophomore and recorded 57 tackles and one interception on Georgia's nine-win squad. However, in his final two years, Bob was relegated to playing reserve defensive back and on special teams.

Georgia's third tailback as a true freshman in 1978, Steve finished his sophomore season as the Bulldogs' starting tailback. In 1979 he averaged 5.6 yards per carry with 459 yards rushing, including 117 yards on 13 attempts in a 16–3 win over Georgia Tech in the season finale. However, as the 1980 season began, Georgia had a number of quality players at the tailback position, including freshman Herschel Walker. Steve was moved to cornerback and played sparingly as a third-string junior.

How deserving it was when Catholic brothers Bob and Steve, both demoted during their times at Georgia, teamed up to make a spectacular play against Notre Dame with the national championship at stake. Bob, whom Vince Dooley has called the ultimate team player, commented following Georgia's win over the Fighting Irish that the Bulldogs in 1980, as a team, never overpowered anyone, "but we always just seem to be there to make the play."

Steve with the block on the kick returner and Bob with the recovered kick, the Kelly brothers certainly were there to make an unforgettable play in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.



Texas fumbles punt to Bulldogs and loses '84 Cotton Bowl and national title

January 2, 1984

Georgia's loss to Auburn in 1983 broke the Bulldogs' consecutive streak of three Southeastern Conference titles and Sugar Bowl appearances. Georgia's consolation was a trip to the Cotton Bowl to face second-ranked Texas, the Southwest Conference champion. The Longhorns were undefeated, practically playing a home game in Dallas, and were the favorite by more than a touchdown. In addition, Texas' defense was considered perhaps the most dominant ever in college football. Texas was also aware that a defeat of Georgia, coupled with a win by Miami of Florida over top-ranked Nebraska on the same day would result in the Longhorns being named national champions. Some of the Texas players had even admitted that the Nebraska-Miami matchup later that night in the Orange Bowl was in the back of their minds leading up to their game against Georgia.

Trailing by six points and facing fourth down at their 34-yard line with 4:32 remaining in the game, the Bulldogs elected to punt to Texas, hoping their defense could hold the Longhorns for one more possession. Punter Chip Andrews hung a high, short punt over Texas' 30-yard line. Longhorn defensive back Craig Curry tried an over-the-shoulder catch of the ball just as Georgia's Melvin Simmons shouted, "Miss it, miss it!"

Curry obliged and dropped the punt. Jitter Fields, Texas' regular punt returner, could not recover his teammate's fumble as the ball squirted through his arms during a mad scramble. Special teams player Gary Moss of Georgia recovered Curry's blunder on the Longhorns' 23-yard line and gave the Bulldogs a rare scoring opportunity.

Normally accurate kickers Jeff Ward of Texas and Georgia's Kevin Butler had combined to make only four of eight field goals during the first 55-plus minutes of play as the Longhorns led 9–3. The Bulldogs would need some sort of break for a Cotton Bowl victory as their offense had struggled mightily against Texas' vaunted defense.

As Georgia lined up to punt, Texas head coach Fred Akers sensed a Bulldogs fake and left his first-team defense on the field, inserting only Fields. Akers also instructed Curry, who had never fielded a punt as a Longhorn, to not attempt to catch the ball if Georgia did indeed punt. Coach Vince Dooley said following the game a fake punt never entered his mind; there was too much time left on the clock.

For whatever reason, Curry did not abide by his coach's demands, and his first attempt at returning a punt ended in tragedy with Moss' recovery. Georgia gained six yards in two plays to Texas' 17-yard line. On third down and four, quarterback John Lastinger forced Curry into another mistake. Lastinger ran an option to his right, and Curry decided to take the pitchman, Tron Jackson. Instead, Lastinger turned upfield and dashed into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with 3:22 remaining. Butler's extra point broke the tie and gave the Bulldogs a 10–9 lead.

On the ensuing possession, Texas ran three plays and was forced to punt. Georgia got the ball back and ran the clock out, converting a fourth and one on the Longhorns' 36-yard line in the process.

A sobbing Curry left the Texas dressing room only 45 minutes following the game, avoiding the media altogether. He had made two deciding mistakes; his first, the muffed punt, was the turning point in Georgia's improbable victory.

En route to a 10–1–1 record and a No. 4 national ranking, the 1983 Georgia Bulldogs, led by the program's most accomplished class of seniors in history, often had to find ways to win. It was no different in the '84 Cotton Bowl. The overconfident Longhorns, on the other hand, found a way to lose as they looked forward to a game other than their own and a national title that never materialized.


Gary Moss, who began his Georgia career as a reserve cornerback, had moved to tailback by the end of the '83 season. Ironically, the converted rusher made one of the greatest special teams plays in Georgia football history and, later, was a standout defensive back in his final two seasons.

As a sophomore in 1983, Moss intercepted one pass (before moving to tailback) and led the team in kickoff returns with a 23.0 average on eight returns. Besides his unforgettable fumble recovery in the '84 Cotton Bowl, Moss also made a tackle on special teams and returned three punts for 57 yards.

After sitting out the 1984 season, Moss became one of Georgia's most highly regarded defensive backs of the 1980s. He led the Bulldogs in interceptions in 1985 and 1986, finishing his career with 10, which still ranks among the school's career leaders. Moss also broke up a combined 20 passes in his junior and senior seasons.

After college Moss played for the Atlanta Falcons' scab team during the 1987 NFL strike. As he had done while at Georgia, Moss returned punts and kickoffs and also intercepted a pass in three games.


Chip Andrews was Georgia's starting punter in 1983 and 1984 after transferring from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in '80, redshirting in '81, and playing junior varsity in 1982. During his collegiate career, Andrews had a reputation for producing lofty and lengthy punts. Of the 25 Bulldogs who have punted at least 50 times since the mid-1940s, Andrews' 43.2 average on 109 career punts ranks second to Drew Butler's 45.4.


Excerpted from The Georgia Bulldogs Playbook by Patrick Garbin. Copyright © 2015 Patrick Garbin. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Charley Trippi v

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction ix

When It Mattered Most 1

On the Offensive 47

The Best Offense Is a Good Defense 159

Special Consideration 201

Heartbreakers 239

Sources 259

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