University of Georgia

1977 - Bulldogs
(Authentic Reproduction)




Once again it was LB Ben Zambiasi leading the Junkyard Dog Defense for Erk Russell although the 5-6 record wouldn't match that of '76. RB's Kevin McLee and Willie McClendon powered the Veer attack behind soph center Ray Donaldson. The 'Dogs were rolling until QB Jeff Pyburn whose dad was an assistant coach and a former Auburn standout, went down against Florida. Dooley tweaked the red helmet with one-inch white center stripe which continued to feature what had become the immediately recognizable Packer-like Georgia "G" logo on each side and the white two-inch player numerals placed at the rear. The traditional gray facemasks were replaced by white ones, a helmet design that has endured to the present day. For demonstrating extreme effort and completing exceptional plays, Coach Dooley placed white award stars on the players' helmets. With QB Jeff Pyburn recovered from his '77 injury and a switch to the Split-T, Georgia improved to a 9-1-1 season in 1978 and then went to the Bluebonnet Bowl where they were dumped by Stanford in a 25-22 thriller. Only the 22-22 tie against Auburn kept them from the Sugar Bowl. The rebuilding year miracle took off with Pyburn and back-up Buck Belue sparking the offense, most often handing the ball to Willie McClendon who set a new school rushing record of 1312 yards and was the SEC MVP. The rush was augmented by rookie receiver Lindsay Scott, SEC Rookie-Of-The-Year who caught thirty-six passes and led the conference in kickoff returns. Center Ray Donaldson had another big year. Soph Scott Woerner had four INT's while pacing the defense. 1979's 6-5 record included but one conference loss, to Auburn but the Bulldogs tripped against a number of weaker non-SEC opponents. End Lindsay Scott added thirty-four more receptions to his resume but was limited when QB Belue broke his ankle vs. Auburn. C Donaldson finished his Georgia career and began a new one that lasted seventeen years in the NFL, most of it with the Colts. Kick return man and All SEC DB Scott Woerner keyed the defense again and had a shot with the Atlanta Falcons, with lots of help from defensive guard Eddie "Meat Cleaver" Weaver. The Junkyard Dogs led the nation in turnovers. 

The 1980 February signing of top prep star Herschel Walker out of Wrightsville, GA made fans anticipate the start of the season but no one could have predicted that he would set a freshman rushing record of 1616 yards and lead the Bulldogs to the National Championship by virtue of their 12-0 record that included a title-clinching victory over Notre Dame by 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl. Walker had some assistance of course, with receiver Lindsay Scott, saving the championship run with his last-second TD catch against Florida, QB Buck Belue who tossed for 1314 yards, and All SEC guard Tim Morrison. The defense came up with the best turnover margin in the country with NG "Meat Cleaver" Weaver (96 tackles), and DT Jimmy Payne leading the way. With Herschel as a three-year All American, Georgia remained dominant and a factor in the national picture with 10-2 and 11-1 seasons in 1981 and '82, finishing sixth and fourth in the final polls those years. Walker won the Heisman Trophy as a junior and set a precedent by signing a pro contract and playing with the USFL New Jersey Generals from 1983 through their existence in 1985. Naturally, he was a record setter there too. Eddie Weaver played well for the USFL LA Express while Lindsay Scott was the Saints first-round draft choice in 1982 and played through the '85 season. Coach Vince Dooley became a revered figure in collegiate coaching, especially in the South. He coached until 1988, still posting top-rated records to his final season, and devoted himself to successfully leading the Athletic Department as a full-time AD. He stepped down in 2003 after losing a power struggle with University President Michael Adams. Dooley was one of the few who remained a head coach at one university through his entire career and did so successfully, finishing with a 201-77-10 record and a winning percentage of .715. He won six SEC championship, had but one losing season and posted winning records against rivals Georgia Tech and Florida while bringing his "Dawgs" to twenty bowl game appearances. National Coach Of The Year in 1980 and '82, Dooley remains ranked as one of the greatest of all college coaches and is in the College Football Hall Of Fame.  


The accolades began early and Herschel Walker was the most heavily recruited player in the U.S. in 1980. Whatever the expectations when he signed with home-state power Georgia, he exceeded them. His rigorous self-taught conditioning program made him a physical specimen,  and he excelled at track and basketball in his football "off seasons." He powered his Wrightsville, GA teams to state championships in football and track, scoring eighty-five TD's while remaining an A-student and class valedictorian. At Georgia, he began his career by setting a freshman rushing record and led the Bulldogs to the National Championship. He was a three-time consensus All American, totaled ten NCAA records, fifteen SEC records, and thirty Georgia career marks, winning the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1982. He gave up his final year of eligibility to sign with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL where he set a single-season pro football rushing mark of 2411 yards and was the league's MVP. Walker played for the Cowboys, Vikings, and Eagles from 1986, when he led the NFL in rushing and was All Pro, through the 1997 season. His USFL and NFL totals left him with more total yards accrued than anyone else in history, 8225 with sixty-one rushing TD's and he caught 512 passes for 4859 yards and another twenty-one touchdowns. A member of the College Football Hall Of Fame, he is considered to be the second greatest collegiate player of all-time after the immortal Red Grange. 

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