Sentell’s Intel: While the ‘Dawgs keep chopping it is time to put some respect on a historic Georgia football run
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep isn’t the latest on the ‘Dawgs and another great class. This one is about the remarkable stretch of football the ‘Dawgs have in their rearview mirror with a lot of potential glories still up ahead.
The University of Georgia has been playing football since 1892. The 130th year finds us at the pinnacle of the program’s momentum.
Pinnacle. That’s an elegant descriptor.
That was the word longtime Georgia fan Mike Shepherd used for it on Wednesday night at the DawgNation event at Marlow’s Tavern.
If it wasn’t for that one family fall wedding, he would be past his 250th straight home game at Sanford Stadium. (There are only about 65 or so of those every decade.)
Shepherd picked the wedding date so it wouldn’t conflict with an Ole Miss game. That game eventually got moved around so much that it snapped his streak somewhere around 175 straight home games.
When Shepherd saw Kirby Smart this year at a preseason function, he told him the 2021 national championship was enough. He didn’t need any more.
Smart, being Smart, said that day he wanted more championships.
The ‘Dawgs are now 12 games deep into the 2022 season. The program’s momentum somehow seems to be even more formidable now than it did that day when Shepherd got a hallway selfie with the Georgia coach.
There’s a number to spotlight here. It used to be one of the five most hallowed all-time Georgia football stats.
That was 43-4-1.
That was the surge from 1980 to 1983 when the Bulldogs won the national championship, three SEC titles, played in three straight Sugar Bowls and also beat an imposing Texas team in The Cotton Bowl.
As a youth growing up in Georgia, I never thought the ‘Dawgs could top that. That was the Holy Grail of records. The UGA verision of the 61-home run record set by Roger Maris.
During the postgame press conference last week after the Georgia Tech win, it was noted that this year’s senior class is now 46-5 across their four years on campus. That snuck up on all of us.
To put that into perspective, the late great damndest good ‘Dawg Vince Dooley won 201 career games. He stacked up 21 percent of his career win total across those four seasons. It took him 21 more seasons to accumulate the other 79 percent of his career win total.
The ‘Dawgs are now on top of that feat.
Georgia fans that have been around for generations see that. Shepherd does. He knows the ‘Dawgs only had three 10-win teams in the 1960s and the 1970s. The Bulldogs didn’t have another 10-win team in the 1980s after 1983.
There were only two 10-win seasons in the 1990s. Mark Richt’s teams won at least 10 games in 10 different seasons. But there were only four Richt teams that won more than 10 games.
That was all part of those long-suffering 41 years between national titles.
DawgNation is now living through seeing the ‘Dawgs ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll 20 times over the last two years.
Georgia was ranked No. 1 in the AP poll just one other time since 1982. That was the preseason poll in 2008. That was it.
Those Dooley teams were ranked No. 1 just 11 times from 1980 to 1983.
“This is the pinnacle,” Shepherd said on Wednesday night.
While there’s a segment of the fan base that harps about the little things, I feel Shepherd nails it there.
Don’t get caught in the weekly weeds. There’s the temptation to look at a school scoring in the first quarter (gasp) on this defense. Maybe the North Avenue Trade School even leads after the first quarter.
There are those sure to rattle off what Stetson Bennett didn’t do perfectly in yet another outing.
Or wonder where the elite receivers are. Or where the All-American tailbacks are. Or where the 12-sack guy is.
Georgia has had all of those things before.
They’ve never had teams like the one on the field now. This one has it almost everywhere else when those contenders did not.
The ‘Dawgs saw five members from their team selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The latest mock draft from The Athletic expects to see another five go in the first round next April.
There’s all that talent and then there is what Georgia continues to do with it. They’ve never had a single stretch where the ‘Dawgs can say they won 30 out of 31 games.
That’s the current tear this program is on.
How many times have they covered or not covered the spread? How many times have the ‘Dawgs been “off” and still won by double digits? Those were the games that some of those 10-win Richt teams would lose.
Fans don’t need medication to get through a week of getting ready to take an unbeaten team to Starkville. Or to Lexington. Or to Jacksonville anymore.
Why is that? Maybe it has something to do with that Sedrick Van Pran-Granger said on Saturday. That was after a media member asked about going unbeaten in conference play for a second straight season. There are only three SEC teams in the last 40 years that have done that.
“It doesn’t matter,” Van Pran-Granger said.
His eyes are only focused on what’s ahead. Not what they’ve done.
Georgia has long had teams over the decades that were capable of doing these things. The difference is this team is capable of doing it and then goes out and does it.
The history books do say Georgia has won 30 of its last 31 games. The average score was 38-11 in those games.
It makes one want to go back and check all the archives.
Georgia’s seniors went 46-5 with that juiced-up all-SEC schedule in 2020 that also featured just three home games and nine regular season games.
The Bulldogs have gone 70-10 across their last six seasons. That’s a win percentage of 88 percent. They’ve lost just five times during the regular season over the last six years.
The ‘Dawgs have won 34 of their last 35 games at home.
Let’s look back at those Dooley teams which won 43 times in four years. The record book says Georgia won 15 of those 43 games by a touchdown or less.
When we study the current 46-5 tear, we find the ‘Dawgs have only won by seven points or less eight times.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Until the ‘Dawgs make it 31 of 32 on Saturday. And add the program’s second SEC title under Smart.
That would still place them one SEC title behind that Dooley run.
What if the ‘Dawgs make it 33 of 34 out in California in January? They should.
That would be back-to-back “natties” for this program. That’s what junior RB Kendall Milton called those championships he wanted to win when he was a high-profile recruit coming to Georgia.
It will not get any better than that.
Well, maybe not until we see what that 2024 Georgia defense looks like. That unit will have all the All-American DLs, DBs and LBs stacked up to be better than that vaunted 2021 side.
The ‘Dawgs are in the midst of a run that could also see them put up back-to-back top 3 overall draft picks.
We could keep going with these nuggets. It should keep going in Athens.
And that’s really the point.
Don’t get lost in the inconsistencies of playing up or down to the opponent each week to lose sight of the fact 43-4-1 has been replaced by a slew of Smart-era numbers that an insatiable fan base never dreamed possible.
Glory years? They’ve been upgraded by Smart with a modern version. That is in an era where winning big in college football is harder than it has ever been.
And somewhere Richard LeCounte III is still saying “We ain’t done yet” about this team every Saturday.
This bunch keeps adding on new pinnacles like Smart is playing college football Jenga.
Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with 2023 commits CJ Allen, AJ Harris and Jamaal Jarrett.
(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)
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