Ware's big day
Danny Ware

Posted Sep 4, 2004

ATHENS — It started getting to Danny Ware a little after noon.

He and his teammates left their hotel, and the buses pulled onto College Station Road en route to Sanford Stadium.

Fans galore.

"I had chills going up and down my body," he said. "I saw people screaming and yelling."

Soon enough, he was the reason they screamed and yelled.

The first true freshman to start at tailback in the season-opener in decades showed he may have been worth the wait, with 135 yards on 18 carries with three touchdowns to lead Georgia past Georgia Southern 48-28 Saturday afternoon.

Ware is the first true freshman tailback starter in the opener under normal circumstances since 1973 when freshmen were allowed on varsity teams.

But Georgia started a freshman backfield in 1943 because of World War II.

The Bulldogs have had 100-yard games by committee, but Ware's the first lone 100-yard gainer for Georgia since Musa Smith's 145 yards in the Sugar Bowl after the 2002 season.

"I'd seen him go by sometimes," said center Russ Tanner. "I was impressed with him today. He ran the ball hard. That's all you can ask of him."

Well, coach Mark Richt wanted more, and got it.

"Danny ran beautifully," he said, "and he picked up every blitz that came his way. That's just as important or more important for me."

Before the game, Ware took a little trip down Memory Lane.

"I was at Hargrave (Military Academy) last year at this time," the freshman from Rockmart High said. "I just sat back and remembered what I had to go through up there and how lucky I am to be down here now."

Fortune seems to have smile on Georgia as well, landing a player who did something even Herschel Walker couldn't manage: a start and 100-yard game in the first game of the season.

Feel a little heat beforehand?

"All the pressure in the world," Ware admitted. "All I kept hearing was,'Danny Ware starting as a freshman, first (freshman) to do it since 1943.' I was kinda nervous. "That gave me the jitterbugs right there."

He sure calmed down after kickoff, gaining 28 yards on three tries on Georgia's opening drive, Ware going in the final 10 for the touchdown.

"I wanted to keep the ball," he said. "Coach Richt told me to hand the ball to the referee."

Quarterback David Greene was certainly impressed.

"He couldn't have dreamed of a better start than that," he said. "It's big to have a back who can run like that." Georgia almost forgot what it was like.

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