Years later, `Hobnail Boot’ play lives on

Ten years later, the play more than stands the test of time.


The Georgia coaches from back then, on the other hand, are starting to show their age.

At least coach Mark Richt said that was the sentiment by some around the football offices this week when somebody — he thinks offensive line coach Will Friend or graduate assistant Nick Jones — dug up film of “P-44 Haynes.”

The Bulldogs return Saturday to Neyland Stadium, the scene of Richt’s first signature win at Georgia.

The play will live in Bulldogs lore likely forever: Fullback Verron Haynes 6-yard touchdown catch from David Greene with five seconds to play that gave Georgia a 26-24 win, its first victory in Knoxville since 1980, and, of course, produced Larry Munson’s memorable “Hobnail Boot” call.

“It’s still a surreal moment for me,” said Haynes, now living in Roswell. “Coach Richt made a great call at the right time and we were able to pull it off. It was everything that was indicative of what he brought in that first year — ‘Finish the Drill.’ That was our first time that we actually got to experience and go out there and do it.”

Richt’s first road game as Georgia coach on Oct. 6, 2001, brought him his first win over a ranked team in the No. 6 Volunteers.

“That was big. It was so big for us that season,” said Richt, who could earn his 100th win at Georgia on Saturday in the same stadium. “You’re just trying to establish yourself as a head coach period, let alone in the Southeastern Conference.”

It was the lone blip on Tennessee’s ledger in a 10-1 regular season. The Volunteers reached the SEC championship game, losing to LSU 31-20.

“We needed that as a staff to get players and fans and people just to believe,” Richt said.

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was Greene’s position coach in 2001.

‚ÄúI remember telling David Greene, ‚ÄòIf it‚Äôs not there, you throw it away if they play a different coverage,’ ‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúWhen they lined up in that coverage, everybody knew that we‚Äôd have a chance to complete that ball. David did a good job of faking and Verron did a good job slipping the linebacker and the rest is history, so to speak.‚Äù

The result was a wide-open Haynes and Munson’s “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose. We just crushed their face.”

Said Haynes: ‚ÄúYou‚Äôve got to be an actor. You have to sell that the run is coming. … Why, with five seconds and I don‚Äôt think we had any timeouts left, did they think we were going to run the ball again, did they fall for that? I don‚Äôt know.‚Äù

Richt ran the play for years at Florida State when he was offensive coordinator.

It’s still in Georgia’s playbook.

Richt says, on average, the play will still be run “at least once a year out of different formations.”

Fullback Bruce Figgins said “It’s a play that definitely works during the right time or situation.”

Shaun Chapas scored on it on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Murray at Auburn last year.

“I talked to Aaron Murray this summer,” Haynes said, “and when I met him for the first time, he was like, ‘Oh, so you’re Verron? We’ve still got three plays in the playbook named after you.’ ”

Haynes, who played seven seasons with the Steelers and Falcons and says he hasn’t officially retired yet, helped out in the Georgia weight room this summer.

He has a water sports company in Trinidad & Tobago, works for ESPN International and helps coach his 6-year-old son’s youth league football team.

“He’s tearing it up,” Haynes said. “He has 15 touchdowns in four games.”

Not surprisingly, Haynes is in demand each year during Tennessee week.

He spoke at the Athens Touchdown Club on Tuesday night and said he had several radio appearances lined up.

“Once this time of year comes up,” Haynes said, “I get a lot of requests.”

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