I had a nice moment of synchronicity over the weekend, when my 2009 football media guide arrived in the mail and Paul Westerdawg put up a posting about how many games Georgia has won over the last decade. Leafing through the former impressed upon me just how high our expectations have become because of the latter.
If you’re like me, you think of last year more or less as a disaster, but a few minutiae leapt out at me off the pages of the media guide to help put last season, and the seven years that preceded it, into perspective. Consider:
- In 2008, Knowshon Moreno gained 1,400 rushing yards and scored 16 touchdowns. Those were the best numbers in both categories by a Bulldog back since Garrison Hearst in 1992. Before Hearst, you have to go back to Herschel Walker to find figures that good. The last four times a Georgia running back had a year as good as Moreno had in 2008, the tailback in question was a Heisman Trophy finalist.
- In 2008, Matthew Stafford passed for 3,459 yards and 25 touchdowns. No Georgia quarterback had ever before thrown more than 24 touchdown passes in a single season, so Stafford broke the school record previously shared by D.J. Shockley and Eric Zeier. Stafford also tallied the second-most passing yards ever put up by a Bulldog signal caller, falling just 66 yards shy of matching Zeier’s 1993 numbers. On top of that, Stafford’s 2008 passer efficiency rating was the second-best single-season mark in school history, trailing only the QB rating posted by Stafford’s position coach, Mike Bobo, in 1997.
- Georgia’s won-lost record for the 1980s was 89-27-4, giving the Red and Black a .758 winning percentage for arguably their most successful decade ever. Georgia’s won-lost record for the 2000s is 90-26, giving the ‘Dawgs a .776 winning percentage for that period.
- Since the start of the Associated Press poll in 1936, the Bulldogs have gone 86-113-8 all-time against teams ranked by the sportswriters at the time of the game. Prior to Mark Richt’s arrival in Athens, Georgia was 59-97-8 (.384) in such games; since Coach Richt came to the Classic City, the ‘Dawgs have posted a 27-16 (.628) record against teams in the AP top 25. Better than three out of every ten wins by the Bulldogs against ranked competition have come during the Mark Richt era.
That’s not to say last year was a success; it wasn’t. However, even disasters are relative, and the fact that Bulldog Nation now (rightly) views a ten-win season with a January bowl victory as a colossal disappointment confirms Paul Westerdawg’s point about the elite level at which the Red and Black are competing.