Garner’s Georgia Junkyard Dawgs’ bark match their bite – John Blake #2
Rodney Garner, Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. — Six months ago, underdog Hawaii traveled halfway around the world to play Georgia in the symbolic cradle of SEC power — the Sugar Bowl. It was Rodney Garner’s job to convince his defensive linemen that the game was going to be anything but a piece of poi for the Bulldogs.
“I told my guys, I don’t know if you all are tough enough,” Georgia’s defensive line coach said. “They’re going to put that war paint on. They don’t care. Those (Hawaii) kids thrived on intimidation. I’m sure our kids got tired of hearing that.”
You might say that. Four hours later, Hawaii’s dream season was, well, a dream and Colt Brennan’s livelihood, if not damaged, was altered. Consider that everybody’s favorite island quarterback not only was knocked down, he was knocked down in the draft. Brennan literally went from hot draft property to sixth-round pick, largely because of the treatment from Garner’s defensive line. The Junkyard Dawgs went old school in harassing the Heisman finalist. Brennan was sacked eight times, suffered three interceptions and basically never had time to set his feet.
“The SEC is probably the fastest conference in all of college football, and we got a first-hand taste of that tonight,” Brennan said after the final college game of his career.
Garner helped make it that way. The 41-year-old is at the pinnacle of his career. The Bulldogs are a trendy pick for preseason No. 1 based largely on a dominating second-half defensive performance in 2007. Georgia’s defense led the SEC with 42 sacks last season. Defensive end Marcus Howard became the Sugar Bowl’s first defensive MVP in almost 30 years. All-SEC defensive tackle Geno Atkins might be the next great one produced by Garner, who is entering his 11th season coaching Georgia’s defensive line.