Georgia Bulldogs: D.J. Shockley

Bond with former UGA QBs big for Murray

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
11:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- In the days after Georgia's loss to Vanderbilt, with his team's season unraveling, Aaron Murray received a text message from exactly the right person.

“Keep them boys believing, man,” D.J. Shockley's message read. “Make them answer the bell. This is your legacy. Remember that: how do I want to be remembered when things get a little tough.”

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
Randy Sartin/USA TODAY SportsGeorgia QB Aaron Murray has leaned on past Bulldogs QBs for support and advice throughout the years.
Such words of support were nothing new from Shockley, who preceded Murray as Georgia's quarterback by four years and now serves as a confidante for the Bulldogs senior, but the timing was perfect. Murray was understandably down in the dumps after crushing injuries and defensive inconsistency caused the Bulldogs to tumble from their top-five ranking earlier in the season. Murray returned for his senior season to win championships, and that goal was on life support after the loss to Vandy.

He desperately needed to hear Shockley's message, and was so appreciative that he saved the text as the screen saver on his cell phone so that it would be a constant reminder of his role as a team leader.

“It's the first thing I see every morning when I hit my phone,” Murray said. “I look at it and that little thing right there just meant the world to me. It's awesome to get those kind of supporting text messages from him and [David] Greene and other guys who have played here.”

Circle of support
Murray has a large circle of supporters, ranging from family to teammates to quarterbacks across the country with whom he has formed a bond at various events. But he has a special relationship with those who played quarterback at Georgia before him -- Shockley and Greene, in particular -- because he had the foresight to reach out before taking his first college snap.

“He embraced the guys that have come before him and wanted us to just kind of help him at the very beginning, work with him,” Greene said. “It wasn't ever a relationship where we were talking every day or anything like that. It was more of like a big brother kind of role, I guess. It wasn't like we touched base that often.

If you just look at stats, you say, 'Since he's been quarterback, Georgia has not won a big game.' I get it, I agree. But does it mean that I could win the big game because when we played in the SEC championship, we only gave up three points [to Arkansas in 2002]? Does that mean that I could win the big game and he couldn't? No, of course not. It's not fair to compare the two. ... The way that he has played this year I think has completely erased any doubt of whether or not he could play big in big moments.

-- Former Georgia QB David Greene
“But during the season at times, like after this weekend [when Auburn spoiled a fourth-quarter comeback by scoring the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds to play], I definitely shot him a text and basically just said, 'Look, I admire the way you play the game.' As a former player that knows what it's like to be in those situations, as much adversity as he faced, you could tell that he wore his heart on his sleeve. He wanted that game and he fought tooth-and-nail to get it back, and he's done that his whole career.”

There are several reasons why Georgia's ex-quarterbacks have developed relationships with the current players on the roster.

One is that the Bulldogs have had the same quarterback-centric head coach and position coach, Mark Richt and Mike Bobo, for the last 13 seasons, which helps maintain continuity between generations. Another is an event that Richt brought from Florida State -- the “Quarterback Classic” -- which serves as a reunion between Richt's ex-Seminoles quarterbacks and current and former Bulldogs signal-callers.

While Murray joked that there is heated competition in events like ping pong, bowling, air hockey, bocce ball and horseshoes, he said that it provided a tremendous outlet.

“I think that's one of the best times of the year, getting together with those guys and playing all these crazy games that only the old guys win because they know how to play them,” Murray said.

Bobo agreed on its value.

“It's a chance for those quarterbacks to meet those older guys and they get contact info from them and they kind of stay in touch," he said. "Greene and Shockley have been real good about staying in touch with all those guys."

Murray's legacy
With 108 passing yards Saturday against Kentucky -- Murray's final home start as a Georgia player -- he can become the first quarterback in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards in all four seasons. He's already the only one to do it three times.

He owns the SEC career records for passing yards, total offense, touchdown passes and completions, and could break the marks for pass attempts and touchdown responsibility before season's end.

Statistics are not the only way we measure quarterbacks, though. The glaring hole in Murray's resume is that, unlike Greene (2002) and Shockley (2005), he never won a conference title. It's a painful reality, particularly because of last season's near-miss against Alabama in the SEC championship game, where Murray and the Bulldogs fell just short of a spot in the BCS title game.

“There's also a piece of me that feels a little bad for him because I think there's been a couple of times throughout his career where he's kind of had a legacy moment kind of taken away from him,” Greene said.

Murray would be the first to point out the things he should have done better in games that didn't turn out in Georgia's favor, but Greene is quick to offer a counterpoint of sorts.

Consider the brilliance with which Murray performed in wins against LSU and South Carolina, how he led the last-minute comeback to force overtime against Tennessee with nearly all of his most important playmakers sidelined by injuries, how he dove for the go-ahead touchdown against Auburn, and the argument that he shrinks under the spotlight seems silly.

“If you just look at stats, you say, 'Since he's been quarterback, Georgia has not won a big game.' I get it, I agree,” Greene said. “But does it mean that I could win the big game because when we played in the SEC championship, we only gave up three points [to Arkansas in 2002]? Does that mean that I could win the big game and he couldn't? No, of course not. It's not fair to compare the two. … The way that he has played this year I think has completely erased any doubt of whether or not he could play big in big moments.”

Murray has Shockley have been there. Better than nearly anyone else, they understand the demands Murray faced for the last four seasons – and they remain impressed by how he thrived under those circumstances.

“I think people will say he was arguably one of the best quarterbacks to play at the University of Georgia, but … There's an asterisk right there. They didn't get that championship and that kind of stuff,” Shockley said. “But in my book, he's No. 1. He's done it all. The numbers don't lie. He's put them in position, and obviously he can't play defense and special teams. He's definitely had a great career and worthy of being one of the best.”

UGA-LSU games always memorable

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
7:00
AM ET


ATHENS, Ga. – As an SEC West school, LSU is hardly a fixture on Georgia's annual football schedule. But when the Tigers and Bulldogs do get together, the results are almost always memorable.

Just think back over the past decade. Two meetings in the SEC championship game – one won by each school. The phantom celebration penalty against Georgia receiver A.J. Green in 2009, helping pave the way for LSU's comeback victory. Georgia putting huge point totals on LSU's defending BCS champion teams in 2004 and 2008.

There's a lot to remember – and just like in Saturday's meeting between No. 6 LSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) and No. 9 Georgia (2-1, 1-0) – there are often major SEC and BCS implications in play.

“[I told the younger players] any game can go down to the last second, but what kind of fight that they're going to have to be ready for,” said Georgia fifth-year senior receiver Rantavious Wooten, one of the few Bulldogs who were on the team when LSU last visited Athens in 2009. “They've got aspirations just like we do. They want a championship and we want a championship and this game right here, this is the game for it. So I just let them know what to expect and how it's going to be and just to get ready for it.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt is 3-4 against LSU since arriving at UGA in 2001 and Tigers coach Les Miles is 2-2 against the Bulldogs. Let's take a look at the last five times their programs squared off:

[+] EnlargeMark Richt
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Mark Richt and the Bulldogs hope to give LSU its first loss of the season on Saturday.
2011 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 1 LSU 42, No. 16 Georgia 10
In one of the most bizarre games of Richt's tenure, Georgia's defense thoroughly dominated the first half. LSU didn't muster a single first down and was in danger of falling down by a big margin, but Georgia receivers dropped a pair of potential first-half touchdown passes and LSU punt returner Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu took a kick back for a touchdown to make it 10-7 Georgia at halftime. The second half was a completely different story, as the Bulldogs committed a couple of turnovers, LSU's pounding rushing attack began to have its intended effect and Todd Grantham's defense seemed helpless as the Tigers rushed for 202 yards and three touchdowns after intermission, turning the game into a rout.

Oct. 3, 2009 (Athens): No. 4 LSU 20, No. 18 Georgia 13
This one will forever be remembered among Georgia fans for a referee's questionable decision to penalize Georgia superstar Green for excessive celebration following his leaping, go-ahead touchdown catch with 1:09 to play, giving Georgia its first lead at 13-12. The penalty forced the Bulldogs to kick off from their own 15 and LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday made them pay by returning the kickoff to the Georgia 43, with a 5-yard penalty against the Bulldogs on the kickoff moving LSU even closer to the UGA end zone. Two plays later, Charles Scott rushed for his second touchdown of the fourth quarter, a 33-yard run with 46 seconds to play allowing LSU to improve to 5-0.

Oct. 25, 2008 (Baton Rouge): No. 7 Georgia 52, No. 13 LSU 38
As wild as the ending of the 2009 game was, this one was crazy from the very beginning. Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble returned an interception for a 40-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and added a 53-yard pick six in the game's closing minutes as the Bulldogs hung half-a-hundred on LSU's porous defense. The Tigers surrendered 50-plus twice that season – the first time in school history that had happened – leading Miles to dump co-defensive coordinators Doug Mallory and Bradley Dale Peveto after the season in favor of former Tennessee coordinator John Chavis, who has been in Baton Rouge ever since.

2005 SEC Championship Game (Atlanta): No. 13 Georgia 34, No. 3 LSU 14
Although fellow receiver Sean Bailey caught a pair of first-quarter touchdowns from D.J. Shockley that got Georgia off on the right foot, Bulldogs senior Bryan McClendon – now the team's running backs coach – might have delivered the play of the game when he blocked a punt midway through the second quarter deep in LSU territory. That helped Georgia score to take a commanding 21-7 halftime lead which LSU never threatened. The Bulldogs' defense also did its job that day, limiting an LSU rushing attack that dominated in their 2003 meeting in Atlanta to just 74 rushing yards.

Oct. 2, 2004 (Athens): No. 3 Georgia 45, No. 13 LSU 16
Nick Saban's final game against Georgia while at LSU ended with a humiliating loss, as the Tigers surrendered the most points allowed by an LSU defense since Florida hung 56 on them in 1996. Georgia quarterback David Greene threw only 19 passes, but set a school record by completing five of them for touchdowns. The Bulldogs had lost twice to Saban's Tigers in 2003 – 17-10 in Baton Rouge and 34-13 in the SEC Championship Game – but they quickly exacted a degree of revenge by jumping out to a 24-0 lead before LSU could answer. The Bulldogs also generated three turnovers and sacked LSU quarterbacks Marcus Randall and JaMarcus Russell five times.

Both teams have been ranked in the top-20 in all seven of their meetings in the Richt era, and this will be the second time they've both been in the top-10. While not every meeting between the two has produced a close contest, they've all been memorable – and almost always impacted their respective championship chases.

“They've been great games. ... Just about every one of them, both teams are ranked teams and at least in the Top 25,” Richt said. “It is a cross-conference rival, so it doesn't hold quite the weight of an Eastern Division [game] when it comes to who plays in Atlanta. We could lose the game and still control our destiny, and they could lose the game and still control their destiny, so it's not do-or-die as far as league play, but it's very important for any national title hopes.”

Recruiting flashback: Fred Gibson 

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
7:00
AM ET
Editor’s note: As we approach national signing day and consider the future of Georgia’s football program, we’ll also look backward into the Bulldogs’ recruiting history. Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk with several former Georgia standouts about their experiences as recruits. Today we feature wide receiver Fred Gibson, who became a star in Mark Richt’s early tenure as coach:

ATHENS, Ga. -- The late surprise in Georgia’s star-studded 2001 recruiting class, Fred Gibson came close to not joining a group that included David Pollack, D.J. Shockley, Thomas Davis, Robert Geathers and Odell Thurman.

In fact, only a flip of a coin prevented the former Ware County Gator from becoming a Florida Gator. But the coin fell Georgia’s way and Gibson went on to become one of the most prolific receivers in UGA history.

Depth chart stacked behind Murray 

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
7:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- While Georgia makes across-the-board changes with its defensive personnel, the Bulldogs will deal with the exact opposite situation at quarterback.

They have a depth chart loaded with five scholarship players, plus a walk-on who essentially served as the No. 2 quarterback by season’s end.

One thing is clear, however.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

You’ve no doubt been flooded with online stories, social media jokes and commentary about the Mayan doomsday scenario that supposedly arrives today, 12/21/12.

Let’s hope it’s not the end of the world as we know it. But just for conversation’s sake, let’s imagine that it is.

Caring about Georgia football would seem fairly trivial at that point, wouldn’t it? But that subject is why we gather here at DawgNation. So if the clock stopped on the Bulldogs program tomorrow, what would have been its legacy?

Although there is no shortage of notable achievements in program history, I’d think any discussion of Georgia football would have to begin with the Herschel Walker era of the early 1980s. The three seasons when Walker -- arguably the best running back in college football history and the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner -- was on campus represent Georgia’s all-time high-water mark.

(Read full post)

Random thoughts from UGA-Tennessee 

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
7:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia survived on Saturday, but its 51-44 win against Tennessee was hardly a textbook victory.

[+] EnlargeKeith Marshall
Jeff Vest/Icon SMIKeith Marshall and Georgia racked up the yards against UT.
Let’s recap some of the history we witnessed at Sanford Stadium and go over some other key points from the Bulldogs’ (5-0, 3-0 SEC) win that keeps them undefeated going into an enormous SEC East showdown against South Carolina (also 5-0, 3-0 after a 38-17 win against Kentucky on Saturday) next Saturday.

And by the way, if you didn't know already, ESPN College GameDay will be in Columbia for the occasion.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Gurley's debut among best under Richt 

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
7:00
AM ET
ATHENS, Ga. -- If Saturday was Todd Gurley’s Herschel Walker moment, Witney Sherry was Gurley’s Bill Bates.

Walker famously burst onto the college football scene in 1980 when he flattened Tennessee’s Bates on the way to the end zone, sparking Georgia’s comeback win against the Volunteers. Three decades later, Gurley tossed Sherry aside like a ragdoll on both of his touchdown runs as he constructed one of Georgia’s all-time most impressive debuts by a true freshman in Saturday’s 45-23 win against Buffalo.

“I didn’t really think about, ‘Yeah I’m going to score,’ or ‘Yeah I’m going to do this,’ my goal was really to come into the game and play my best without the ball, because if I get the ball, then that’s just going to come natural,” said Gurley, who rushed eight times for 100 yards and two touchdowns and returned his first college kickoff 100 yards for another score.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed after Friday’s practice that true freshman quarterback Faton Bauta is likely in line for a redshirt season this fall.

Bauta is the newcomer in a deep group of quarterbacks that includes All-SEC starter Aaron Murray, junior Hutson Mason, redshirt freshman Christian LeMay and walk-on Parker Welch, so the incoming freshman has not been getting many practice reps this preseason.

“It’s just a matter of learning, and sometimes it is harder to learn when you’re trying to learn with a [small] amount of opportunities,” Richt said. “But we’re not expecting him to have to play for us this year. More than likely he’ll redshirt.”

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Recapping Richt's history against UF 

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
4:32
PM ET
Lost in all the talk about Georgia’s failings against Florida is the notion that the Gators have been really, really hard to beat throughout the last few decades.

This year, however, might be Georgia’s best opportunity in years to reassert itself in Jacksonville. Florida is slumping, having lost three games in a row, and Georgia enters the game on a five-game winning streak.

The Bulldogs are listed as 2.5- or 3-point favorites in most of the booking places I looked at online, but I was wondering how many times in Mark Richt’s tenure -- which includes a 2-8 record against Florida -- Georgia actually entered the game as the betting favorite or the higher-ranked team.

So here are some facts:

  • This is the first time Georgia is the favorite since 2005. It’s also the first time since that season that Georgia is ranked ahead of Florida and the fifth time overall in Richt’s 11 seasons. The others were 2002, 2003 and 2004.

  • The only seasons where Georgia has been favored were 2002, 2003, 2004 and this year. The Bulldogs won only in 2004 thus far.

  • Last year was the first time since 1979 both teams were unranked when they reached Jacksonville.

Here’s a quick recap of the series history under Richt. The Florida series is no doubt the most troubling black mark on Richt’s otherwise sterling record at Georgia, but don’t forget how good Florida has been for much of that time. Richt no doubt has to bring more balance to the rivalry if he is to remain at Georgia -- and this weekend’s game is probably his best opportunity.

2011
Rankings: Georgia: No. 22; Florida: Unranked
Favorite: Georgia -2.5
Final score: ?

2010
Rankings: Florida: Unranked; Georgia: Unranked
Favorite: Florida -1
Final score: Florida 34, Georgia 31
Recap: Both teams enter the game unranked for the first time since 1979 and Florida snaps a three-game losing streak by winning the first overtime game in series history. Backup kicker Chas Henry, filling in for the injured Caleb Sturgis, drills a game-winning 37-yard field goal after Georgia’s Aaron Murray throws an interception on the Bulldogs’ overtime possession. Murray leads the Bulldogs back from a 21-7 halftime deficit, but his third interception eventually results in defeat.

2009
Rankings: Florida: No. 1; Georgia: Unranked
Favorite: Florida -16.5
Final score: Florida 41, Georgia 17
Recap: Georgia trots out special black helmets and black pants, but Florida wins in another blowout. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow accounts for four touchdowns in his final appearance against Georgia. He breaks Bulldogs great Herschel Walker’s SEC career record for rushing touchdowns with his 50th in the second quarter of the rout.

2008
Rankings: Florida: No. 5; Georgia: No. 8
Favorite: Florida -7.5
Final score: Florida 49, Georgia 10
Recap: Georgia starts the season as the nation’s No. 1 team, but Florida eventually wins its second national title in three years and destroys Georgia after the bitter 2007 loss has festered for a year. Florida coach Urban Meyer says he would not forget the Bulldogs’ touchdown dance and rubbed in this blowout win -- Florida’s second-biggest margin of victory in series history -- by using both of his remaining timeouts as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

2007
Rankings: Florida: No. 9; Georgia: No. 20
Favorite: Florida -7
Final score: Georgia 42, Florida 30
Recap: Georgia participates in a team-wide touchdown dance in the end zone after Knowshon Moreno’s first-quarter score and the Bulldogs sack eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow six times as they begin a seven-game winning streak that ends with a No. 2 final national ranking.

2006
Rankings: Florida: No. 9; Georgia: Unranked
Favorite: Florida -13.5
Final score: Florida 21, Georgia 14
Recap: Eventual national champion Florida builds a 14-0 halftime lead that grows to 21-0 when Ray McDonald returns a Kregg Lumpkin fumble for an 8-yard touchdown on Georgia’s first possession of the second half. The Bulldogs rally behind a feisty defense and freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford, but can’t get a stop in the fourth quarter to get one more shot at the end zone.

2005
Rankings: Georgia: No. 4; Florida: No. 16
Favorite: Florida -3.5
Final score: Florida 14, Georgia 10
Recap: Previously unbeaten Georgia is without injured starting quarterback D.J. Shockley and the offense sputters with backup Joe Tereshinski III. First-year Florida coach Urban Meyer reworks his ineffective spread offense before the Georgia game and the Gators score touchdowns on the first two drives of the game -- enough to barely hold off the eventual SEC East champion Bulldogs.

2004
Rankings: Georgia: No. 10; Florida: Unranked
Favorite: Georgia -6.5
Final score: Georgia 31, Florida 24
Recap: Georgia snaps six-game losing streak against the Gators and Bulldogs greats David Greene and David Pollack get their only career win against Florida, which had announced the Monday before the game that coach Ron Zook would not return the next year.

2003
Rankings: Georgia: No. 4; Florida: No. 23
Favorite: Georgia -1.5
Final score: Florida 16, Georgia 13
Recap: Florida’s Matt Leach drills a 33-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining to lift the Gators to their 13th win in 14 tries against the Bulldogs. Sluggish Georgia rallies from a 13-3 deficit in the fourth quarter, but it’s not enough. Florida coach Ron Zook improves to 2-0 against the Bulldogs, although Georgia entered both games as a top-five team.

2002
Rankings: Georgia: No. 4; Florida: Unranked
Favorite: Georgia -1.5
Final score: Florida 20, Georgia 13
Recap: Florida limps into Jacksonville with a 5-3 record against unbeaten Georgia and still manages to hand the Bulldogs their only loss of the season. Georgia eventually wins the SEC championship, but the Florida loss almost certainly costs the Bulldogs a chance to play for the national title. The Bulldogs go 0-for-13 on third down and commit three turnovers -- the most costly being a D.J. Shockley interception that Guss Scott returns 47 yards for a touchdown. Wide-open Terrence Edwards drops a David Greene pass at the Florida 30 late in the game as the Bulldogs stumble to defeat.

2001
Rankings: Florida: No. 6, Georgia: No. 19
Favorite: Florida -19.5
Final score: Florida 24, Georgia 10
Recap: Steve Spurrier wins his final game against Georgia as Florida’s coach, with the Gators overcoming four turnovers and 12 penalties and eventually pulling away for a win. First-year Georgia coach Mark Richt’s club has its chances, but fails to convert three fourth downs in the second half -- including Verron Haynes’ dropped pass on fourth-and-2 at the Florida 6-yard line. Rex Grossman passes for 407 yards in leading the Gators to victory.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Overvalued And Undervalued
Kirk Herbstreit and David Pollack give their most overvalued and undervalued teams and which unknown player will become a household name.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

SEC SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/28
Saturday, 8/30
Sunday, 8/31