ATHENS — Fans driving down Lumpkin Street on their way to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game will be among the first to see a new statue honoring former Bulldogs coach and athletic director Vince Dooley.
The statue, which depicts Dooley being lifted onto his players' shoulders after winning the 1980 national championship, will be unveiled Saturday morning as Georgia dedicates the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. The statue was created by Athens sculptor Stan Mullins.
Gov. Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Georgia president Michael Adams are scheduled to speak at the ceremony.
Billy Payne, the former head of the Atlanta Olympics committee and current chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, and Georgia athletic director Damon Evans also are expected to attend; both played for Dooley.
The statue has been installed in a new garden area that was constructed next to the Spec Towns track and field stadium and the Butts-Mehre football building.
The Dooley athletic complex includes the track, Butts-Mehre building, the football practice fields, Stegeman Coliseum and the new Coliseum training facility, Foley Field baseball stadium, the Rankin M. Smith Sr. Student-Athlete Academic Center, and the Dan Magill tennis complex, including Henry Feild Stadium.
Curiously, it does not include Sanford Stadium, even though some of Dooley's former players called on the school to honor him by naming the field in his honor.
Dooley was Georgia's football coach from 1964-88. He won a school-record 201 games, six Southeastern Conference championships and the '80 national title. He was athletic director from 1979-2004, a tenure that included 23 national championships and 78 SEC titles by the school's various teams.
Dooley has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Georgia's state sports Hall of Fame.
The most worrisome matchup for Georgia is obvious: Georgia Tech's defensive line, which features three seniors, going against the Bulldogs' offensive line, comprised of two freshmen and three sophomores.
"It's going to be a challenge for us, but every week is a challenge for us," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
Georgia Tech's defensive front includes 6-foot-7 senior end Michael Johnson and senior defensive tackles Darryl Richard and Vance Walker.
"There's no question it's the strength of their team and it's definitely a concern for us up front," Richt said. "We'll have to continue to do the type of things that won't put too much pressure on our group. We have tight ends and backs who can help our linemen in pass protection and even in run-blocking."
Johnson has six sacks, 13 tackles behind the line and last week returned an interception for a touchdown against Miami. Richard has four sacks and 10 tackles for losses, while Walker has three sacks and 8.5 tackles in the backfield. The other starter, sophomore end Derrick Morgan, leads the team with 6.5 sacks among his nine tackles for losses.
"They've played well," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "There have been games where they've played better than others, but overall they've played well."
The rest of the defense isn't nearly as experienced, he pointed out. The Yellow Jackets are expected to start nothing but freshmen and sophomores in their linebacker and secondary corps.
"People forget how young we are on defense," Johnson said. "Other than those front guys, they're really wasn't anyone who had played a lot of football."
At Georgia, quarterback Matthew Stafford and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo helped compensate for the line's lack of experience.
Richt said Bobo has called plays which emphasize "things that they can do well and not try to down after down put them in positions where they absolutely have to do it in terms of pass protection and some single blocking and that sort of thing."
"I think Mike Bobo has done a very fine job of understanding what is in front of Matt," Richt said. "We've been careful not to put them in a bind over and over and over."
Banged up Jackets
Georgia Tech is limping around on defense, though there was some good news concerning free safety Dominique Reese.
The sophomore sustained a knee injury in last week's victory over Miami and wasn't expected to recover in time to face the Bulldogs. But two good days of practice persuaded coach Paul Johnson that he'll be ready to go.
The Yellow Jackets will definitely be without outside linebacker Sedric Griffin, who also hurt his left knee against the Hurricanes, and senior cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels is doubtful because of a hamstring injury that already caused him to miss four games.
Against Georgia's dynamic receiving duo of Mohamed Massaquoi and A.J. Green, the Yellow Jackets will counter with a secondary that includes at least one true freshman and perhaps two, and no one older than a sophomore.
"That would be a tough job even if you're healthy," Johnson said. "But you do what you can do. We're not going to say, 'Oh my, this is Georgia. Wow.' We've got to go play. They put their pants on the same way we do. They can't put but 11 out there at one time. You try to cover them. If they're that much better than you, they're going to beat you."
A bow for Munson
Former Georgia radio broadcaster Larry Munson will be honored after the first quarter of Saturday's game.
The school will pay tribute to Munson's 43 years as the voice of the Georgia radio network, a tenure that included such memorable calls as "run, Lindsay, run" and "hunker down, Dawgs."
The tribute was planned between quarters because Georgia is having a ceremony to honor its seniors before the game. School officials also wanted late-arriving fans to be able to witness the tribute.
The 85-year-old Munson underwent surgery in April to remove blood clots from his brain. He returned to work Georgia's first two home games, then announced his retirement. Scott Howard took over the play-by-play duties, with former Bulldogs quarterback Eric Zeier moving in as his broadcast partner.
Munson worked only home games last season but made an exception to travel to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech game.
In addition to a video tribute, Munson will receive an original painting from his longtime employer.