My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Looking Back: 2008 Year in Review

From the preseason Sports Illustrated cover boys to the final devastating blow against the in-state rival, it has been a dizzying ride for Georgia this season. Before the Bulldogs kick off their final game of the season, however, we wanted to take a look back. So, each day leading up to Georgia's date with Michigan State at the Capital One Bowl, we'll be counting down the top moments that thrilled, haunted and downright perplexed Bulldog Nation in 2008.

Of course, we have just 11 days left, which hardly gives us time to hit on every great storyline from a memorable season, so here's a quick rundown of numbers 11 through 20.

20. Chapas' end-zone allergy

With Brannan Southerland sidelined for the first half of the season,sophomore Shaun Chapas quickly endeared himself to fans with some impressive performances. For some reason, however, the poor kid couldn't buy a touchdown. He was pushed out at the 1, tackled at the 3,fell down in the end zone on a wide open pass. Southerland scored on his first carry after returning from a foot injury, and even third-stringer Fred Munzenmaier found the end zone on his lone carry of the season before Chapas' misery finally came to an end with an 11-yard scoring reception against Kentucky.

19. Please don't go

The story hasn't yet developed, but fans are already in a frenzy over the possible loss of offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who has interviewed for a job at Auburn, his alma mater. Searels' miraculous work holding together a patchwork offensive line in 2008 brought him cult hero status, and finding a replacement for him would be a tough task as Georgia readies for 2009.

18. The long and winding road

In a season that turned out far different than the early expectations, it should be no surprise then that one of August's biggest storylines turned out to be a complete dud. While Georgia held the No. 1 ranking to start the year, few people picked the Dawgs to win a title because of a supposedly impossible schedule that included dates with eight coaches who had won a national championship. In the end, however, Arizona State, Tennessee and Auburn were all significantly worse than advertised, and while the slate was still tough, the SEC's down year made the schedule a non-story by year's end.

17. Rennie to the rescue

As it turned out, Georgia's hopes of a national title were dashed by early November, but linebacker Rennie Curran might have been the biggest reason they held out that long. With Georgia nursing a 14-7 lead in the fourth quarter against South Carolina, running back Mike Davis dove from the 2-yard line looking to tie the game. Curran was there to save the day, however, punching the ball loose, where Asher Allen recovered it in the end zone. That play marked Curran's coming of age as a leader on the defense, a role he embraced and excelled at throughout the season.

16. Giant shoes to fill

The giant shoes in question belonged to left tackle Trinton Sturdivant. Although the rash of injuries became one of the main storylines of the season, Sturdivant's season-ending knee injury in Week 2 of fall camp became the first big debate of the year. Fans spent weeks wondering who would fill in -- and Georgia used three more players at the position before it found an answer.

15. Where's the pressure?

A year ago, Georgia led the SEC in sacks. This season? Eh, not so much. An early season injury to defensive tackle Jeff Owens combined with a lack of development from the young D-ends held Georgia to a conference-worst 17 sacks.

14. Gamble cashes in

There weren't too many people picking Georgia to win its road game against LSU in October, but it was an unlikely hero that swung the momentum in the Bulldogs' favor from the start. Linebacker Darryl Gamble was only playing because of an injury to starter Dannell Ellerbe, but he picked off LSU's first pass of the game and returned it for a touchdown. Three quarters later, he would repeat the feat, helping lead Georgia to an impressive 52-38 win.

13. Celebrate the millennium with Know-manium

Knowshon Moreno's epic accomplishment deserved a "Seinfeld" reference in the header. The third-year sophomore rushed for an SEC best 1,338 yards in 2008 -- becoming only the second player in Georgia history with consecutive seasons over the 1,000-yard rushing mark. You can guess who the other is.

12. Oh, be-have!

Fans were holding their collective breath that the Bulldogs could behave on the field in 2008 -- a year that saw Georgia flagged for the third most penalties in all of Division I football. At times it killed the Bulldogs, including overturning two key take-aways against Alabama and Florida. For the season, Georgia gave away 885 yards on 105 penalties.

11. The leap

There were plenty of memorable plays for Georgia this year -- Demarcus Dobbs's interceptions, Matthew Stafford-to-A.J. Green against Kentucky, Rennie Curran's forced fumble against South Carolina -- but it was Knowshon Moreno's leap over a Central Michigan defender that earned the most coverage... eventually. ESPN failed to show the highlight on its "SportsCenter" episodes the following day, creating a firestorm of criticism in which Mark Richt became a central figure. The folks at the Worldwide Leader have since righted the wrong, and now show the clip virtually every time Georgia is discussed.

Starting Monday, we'll count down the top 10 stories of the season. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Nice stuff as usual Mr. Hale. As a UGA alumni now living in Pac 01 country, your blog has satisfied my Bulldog cravings. Keep up the good work.

How come nobody's trying to interview Willie Martinez?

--Burbank Dawg

Anonymous said...

David, Since we are capping off the year just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed your blog this season. It is a must read for me every day. Thank you very much for the effort and excellent work you have done for all of your readers this year.

David Hale said...

Many, many thanks, Anon. I've had a blast following the team and interacting with all of you this season. I'm looking forward to some vacation time for sure, but I'm guessing I'll be counting down the days to kickoff in '09 before long.

Muckbeast said...

Thanks for a great year of coverage, David!

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty new to the blogging scene but I have about 5 now that I read on a daily basis and yours is definitely one of my favorites. Can't wait to hear more next year. Have a great holiday.