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September 22, 2005

UGA vs. MSU 96-97: Starkville and Steamrollers

By: Paul Westerdawg

Because UGA plays Mississippi State so rarely and few Georgia fans have experienced a trip to Starkville, the Georgia Sports Blog wanted to get some insight on playing the "other" Bulldogs through the eyes of a former player.

Ronald Bailey, cornerback for the Georgia Bulldogs from ’94-97, spent a few minutes with us looking back at the 1996 and 1997 games. Georgia won the 1996 meeting in Starkville 38-19 and won the 1997 meeting 47-0 in Athens.

[Photo: Bailey picks off a Tim Couch pass for a touchdown against Kentucky in 1997. He also had an interception versus Mississippi State in the 1997 match up in Athens.]

Question and Answer:
Paul Westerdawg (PWD): We rarely play Mississippi State, and I've never been to Starkville. What was the town and stadium like?

Ronald Bailey (RB): "When we got off the bus and I looked around, I was happy that I went to Georgia. Like a lot of places in Mississippi it was in the middle of nowhere."

PWD: Their stadium is pretty small. What was the crowd like in Starkville? Were the cowbells a factor?

RB: "We played them in a late night game, and I remember it being a pretty rowdy crowd. It was a small stadium, but with the cowbells the noise was really magnified."

PWD: How did the stadium compare to other places in the SEC?

RB: "We joked that it was a big high school stadium. I preferred playing in Starkville to Vandy because of Vandy's Astroturf. I almost broke my foot on Vandy's old turf. As a player, I preferred Vandy, but as a fan I would definitely go to Nashville before Starkville."

PWD: In 1997, Jim Donnan drove a steamroller onto the practice field to motivate the team before the Mississippi State game in Athens. What do you remember about that?

RB: "I think it was the beginning of practice on Thursday. We were on the lower practice field. The gates towards the Coliseum were open, and Donnan rolled onto the practice fields driving the steamroller. He drove it directly into the middle of the field.

Donnan was just trying motivating us. When your coach comes out and says you’re going to steamroll somebody it shows confidence in you. He said, 'We’re going to be the steamroller, and they are going to be the pavement.'

Mississippi State always had very physical teams. Coach Donnan wanted us to out-physical them. We had to match their physicality to win."

What was the team's reaction to the steamroller and the speech?

RB: "People were surprised and laughing. Nobody could believe he would do something that outrageous."

PWD: Even after the steamroller stunt. Did you ever thing that you would beat them so badly (47-0)?

RB: "No. I was really surprised by the score."

PWD: Do you have a prediction for this Saturday?

RB: "Our defense has been playing so well, I don’t think they’ll score any more than 7 points. I’m thinking 31-7."

Thanks again to Ronald Bailey for this look back. - PWD


paulwesterdawg said...

FWIW - That's not Ron on the Steamroller.

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