I commence with a heartfelt "much obliged" to Orson Swindle of Every Day Should Be Saturday, who hit the nail on the head with what is sure to be the intercollegiate athletics blogosphere's most accurate headline of the year: "T. Kyle King: The Mayor Redefines Obsession."
Orson was kind enough to credit me with taking obsessive list-making "one step beyond what we thought possible by writing his own microhistory of Georgia football's best and worst moments" in "clear, lively and intelligible" prose. Also, he liked the picture of Sherilyn Fenn.
If obsession is a crime, then let me be guilty.
Having already listed the Bulldogs' Five Worst Team Performances in Games I Attended and Five Worst Team Performances Overall, I don't have the heart to break down the worst individual efforts into the categories of historical low points and personal bad experiences, so I have opted instead to combine the two.
I therefore present to you . . . The Five Worst Individual Performances in Georgia Football History, regardless of whether I was there to see each one:
Charley Madison v. Georgia Tech (November 28, 1953)---The final game of the worst season in Georgia football history also was the first in-state showdown with the Yellow Jackets to be televised. The 'Dawgs came into the game sporting a 3-7 record. Awaiting them at historic Grant Field was a Ramblin' Wreck squad bound for its second straight Sugar Bowl after having won 32 of its previous 36 outings. The Yellow Jackets were 18-point favorites at The Flats. On the Golden Tornado's first series against the Red and Black, quarterback Pepper Rodgers fumbled the ball away at the Georgia five yard line. The Bulldogs' Charley Madison promptly returned the favor, coughing up the football at the 14 and setting up Georgia Tech's first touchdown. Later in the game, the Yellow Jackets were clinging to a 14-6 lead and the 'Dawgs were in Georgia Tech territory when Red and Black quarterback Zeke Bratkowski hit Madison at the 30 yard line and there was nothing and no one between the receiver and the goal line. Madison was inside the opposition's 10 yard line when the ball inexplicably popped loose and was recovered at the five yard line by Georgia Tech's Ben Daughtery. The Yellow Jackets proceeded to march 95 yards for their third touchdown of the day, en route to a 28-12 victory. It was the fifth consecutive Georgia loss in what was to become an eight-game losing streak against the Ramblin' Wreck in the 1950s. Had Charley Madison simply held onto the ball, the 1953 season might have ended quite differently and Georgia Tech's run of dominance over the 'Dawgs might never have come to pass.
O.K., last time: James Madison was the Father of the Constitution; Charley Madison cost us the '53 Tech game.
Larry Rakestraw v. Florida (November 9, 1963)---Georgia's senior Q.B. arrived in Jacksonville ranked second in the country in yards per game, but Larry Rakestraw had a terrible day against the Gators as the Orange and Blue claimed their fourth straight series victory in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Rakestraw rushed a dozen times against the Gators, losing 19 total yards in the process. He threw 29 passes, gaining 94 yards on 10 completions on those rare occasions on which he was on target. Rakestraw did not throw a single pass in the first half that found its way into the hands of a Bulldog receiver, but, over the course of the game, he had four attempts intercepted by Florida defenders, three of which went to Bruce Bennett. Rakestraw tacked on a fifth turnover when he fumbled at the Georgia six yard line, setting up a Gator T.D. The 'Dawgs lost the game, 21-14. You do the math.
Quincy Carter v. South Carolina (September 9, 2000)---Honestly, I thought of making this list "all Quincy, all the time," but I decided to highlight the worst of his many infuriating performances. The memory of this game is seared into my soul because I made the trip to Columbia expecting to see something very different from what actually transpired. Imagine if Larry Rakestraw's 1963 performance against Florida had been duplicated, only by a much better Georgia team against a much weaker conference opponent, and you still don't have the non-stop horror show that was the 2000 Georgia-South Carolina game at Williams-Brice Stadium. Quincy Carter threw 24 passes, of which 10 were caught by Georgia receivers and five were caught by Gamecock defenders. While there is plenty of blame to go around, Q.C. at Q.B. bears the lion's share of the responsibility for playing so poorly. No Georgian named Carter has had a worse day since the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 1980. It remains to be seen whether Quincy will wind up winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ironically, Jack Klugman was called in to perform the postmortem on the career of the most overhyped recruit of the Jim Donnan era.
Terrence Edwards v. Florida (November 2, 2002)---Robert Edwards's younger brother left campus as the Bulldogs' career leader in receiving yards (3,093), having just completed a record-setting senior season in which he covered 1,004 yards on pass receptions. Against the Gators in Jacksonville, though, Terrence Edwards did not have his finest hour. Tight end Ben Watson led the squad with 21 receiving yards on four catches, which tells you how inefficient the Georgia passing attack was against Florida. The heartbreaker, though, was the third down pass to a wide-open Edwards, who had room to run . . . yet dropped the ball. The 'Dawgs lost the game, 20-13, and finished the season with a 13-1 record and a No. 3 ranking in the final polls. Had Edwards played true to form, 2002 might have brought the Bulldogs another national championship.
It has long been rumored that, for the 2002 Georgia-Florida game, Terrence Edwards was replaced in the lineup by Jack Dundee, formerly of Taft, California's Midway Union High School.
Billy Bennett v. Louisiana State (September 20, 2003)---Over the course of his career as a Bulldog, Billy Bennett booted 87 field goals and 148 extra points, leading all Georgia players in history with 409 total points. His last year was his best one, as he tallied 131 points on 31 field goals and 38 P.A.T.s. I hate to pick on Bennett, because the Bulldogs' loss in Baton Rouge genuinely wasn't his fault, but, as bad days go, this was Bennett's worst. It's hard to dominate a game in a losing effort, but, for a large portion of the contest, the 'Dawgs did, yet they were done in by three turnovers and too many missed opportunities. While the loss truly was a team loss, the ordinarily reliable Bennett missed three field goals in what wound up being a seven-point setback. I feel bad for Bennett for putting him on this list, particularly since Tiger Stadium is where placekickers go to learn humility, but a good player had one of the all-time bad days in what should have been a great Georgia victory.
All right, that's all the negativity I can stand for now.
Since this series has garnered the attention of Every Day Should Be Saturday and of the Georgia Sports Blog---which no doubt accounts for the fact that the Ides of March will be remembered in college football weblogging history as the day Dawg Sports received over 1,000 visits and over 2,500 page views to push the site over 10,000 total page views in its 21 full days of operation---I plan on ending this sequence of postings on a positive note by going back and augmenting further the lists of great team and individual performances in Bulldog history, so stick around for those, as well as for all the Georgia athletics and college football commentary you can stand.
Oh, and, Orson . . . this one's just for you, pal: