UT game was Greene's big moment

In every football player's career, there is a defining moment. For Georgia quarterback David Greene, that defining moment came on Oct. 6, 2001.

Greene already had the reputation of being a cool customer on the football field, but he had the chance to showcase it that October afternoon in Knoxville. With the Bulldogs suddenly down 24-20 after a long Tennessee touchdown, Greene was presented the ultimate challenge: A redshirt freshman in one of the most hostile environments imaginable, being looked to by his teammates to engineer a miracle with less than two minutes remaining.

And that's exactly what he did. Greene marched the Bulldogs an improbable 59 yards on just five plays, capping the drive with the game-winning touchdown pass to fullback Verron Haynes. "P-44" was the play heard ‘round the world, and David Greene was the one who made it happen.

"That game helped me out so much," Greene said this week on the eve of Saturday's contest between the Bulldogs and the Volunteers. "As a freshman, I wanted to prove I could come in and step up and play. The last drive and the touchdown pass gave me so much confidence and it gave the players around me confidence in me.

"A win like that makes you feel like you're never out of a game. It gives you hope when you're behind as a team."

With Greene at the helm, the Bulldogs haven't been behind too often. As the Bulldogs' starting quarterback, Greene is 25-6, including victories in 17 of the last 19 games.

Though the Bulldogs were a modest 8-4 in Greene's first season, the Tennessee game was the shot in the arm he and his teammates needed. Not only was Greene a rookie quarterback, but Mark Richt was in his first season as the Bulldogs' head coach. Greene has been described as an extension of Richt on several occasions because they have a similar cool, collected demeanor, and it was never more evident than that day in Neyland Stadium.

"That game was huge for David and it was huge for me as a head coach," Richt said. "That game really solidified some of the things we were trying to teach the players. The players really bought in 100 percent what we were trying to get done. You really get so much out of a moment like that. For David to make a play to win a game like that so early in his career was huge. It really solidified the confidence everyone had in him."

In 2002, Greene established himself as one of the conference's elite quarterbacks — in a league known for its able gunslingers. Greene was named First-Team All-SEC, the SEC Offensive Player of the Year and the SEC Championship Game MVP as he threw for 2,924 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Perhaps drawing from the 2001 Tennessee game, Greene added another chapter in Georgia lore against Auburn last season. The Bulldogs trailed the Tigers 21-17 in the closing minutes with the SEC East championship on the line. On fourth-and-15 from the Auburn 19, Greene lofted a pass into the left corner of the end zone that receiver Michael Johnson snared to lift the Bulldogs to the win and set the stage for the school's first conference title in two decades.

"Every time Greene goes on the field, it's a big moment," Johnson said. "He's a great quarterback. In Knoxville two years ago, he showed that he was going to be a big playmaker. He makes big plays all the time. He's a winner."

"He's a very intelligent quarterback," Richt said. "He rarely makes mistakes. He's very machine-like in how he makes decisions and gets us into the right situations. You give him a game plan on Monday and he absorbs it really quickly."

Already this season, Greene has thrown for 1,244 yards and five scores. If he continues at his current pace, he will eclipse the school record for career passing yards (11,153) currently held by Eric Zeier, who ended his collegiate career as the SEC's all-time leading passer.

But what drives Greene is team success. It has been noted that he often gets overlooked in favor of Ole Miss' Eli Manning, Kentucky's Jared Lorenzen and Tennessee's Casey Clausen, but he truly doesn't care.

"He does his job and he doesn't say much about it," said teammate and roommate David Pollack. "He just steps up and does what the team needs him to do."


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