Georgia and Murray State meet between the hedges at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, as the Bulldogs and Racers, both coming off season-opening wins, try to push their season record to 2-0. It will be a special day in Athens, with the unveiling of Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium, which will begin at 3:30 p.m., honoring Georgia’s legendary hall of fame coach and athletic director Vince Dooley.
This will be the second-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and Racers. Georgia’s Oil Bowl champs of 1945 defeated Murray State 49-0 in the season opener.
Behind a powerful 340-yard running attack, Georgia was victorious at Vanderbilt 30-6, marking the Bulldogs 14th straight victory over a division foe from the Southeastern Conference East. Despite a 24-point win “on the road” – some two-thirds of the crowd in Nashville was clad in red and black – there were still some issues for the country’s third ranked team. At the top of Georgia fourth-year head coach Kirby Smart’s checklist for Saturday’s game will be cleaning up the penalties. The Bulldogs were flagged 10 times for 115 penalty yards in Nashville.
With the stratosphere Georgia now plays in, the standards of Smart’s Bulldogs are high. Along with the penalties, the Dogs again struggled too often in short yardage situations, going just one-of-seven, plus coming up empty on the lone fourth down attempt. Still, the Dogs raced to a 21-0 second quarter lead, piled up 323 rushing yards, shut out the Commodores in the second half and were a perfect three-for-three on Rodrigo Blankenship field goals. Savor the victory and turn the focus to the next drill, the next practice, the next study session, and ultimately the next game.
In Smart’s first season at the Georgia helm, the Bulldogs opened with a win over North Carolina in Atlanta, and then came home and had to hang on for dear life in a 26-24 escape over Nicholls State. It’s an easy reminder, no one, no team can be taken for granted.
It’s something that Smart preaches, it’s something that all great coaches, preach, and was certainly a staple of the Dooley era. And so much of Saturday will be honoring the Bulldogs greatest coach and athletic director. Dooley’s legacy has been an inspiration to Smart, since Georgia’s current coach was a young fan dreaming of donning the silver britches while growing up in his hometown of Bainbridge.
Dooley led Georgia to the 1980 national championship, six Southeastern Conference titles, a 19-6 mark against Tech, 17-7-1 record versus Florida and 20 bowl games. The height of his career came from 1980-83, when Georgia went 43-4-1 with the national championship, three straight SEC crowns, four straight years of at least 10 wins with two or fewer losses, and Herschel Walker won the 1982 Heisman Trophy. It is fitting that Dooley’s honor comes in the early stages of another era of greatness. An SEC title, Rose Bowl win and back-to-back 11-1 regular seasons have the Georgia fans fondly harkening back to those special days.