Georgia would go on to finish #2 in the nation while Oklahoma State would struggle and finish the year at 7-6. Once again, the 2009 match up will set the tone for both teams. Here is the Bubba N’ Earl preview of the 2009 season opener, Georgia at Oklahoma State.
The Cover curse bit the Dawgs in ’08. Will it take a bite out of the Pokes in ’09?
Welcome home, Bill Young. It's a mess. Oklahoma State’s defense is a completely different story. While they do return 6 of 7 starters in the front, they return only one member of a defensive backfield that was ranked 110th in the nation in pass defense. Leading tackler Andre Sexton had 100 tackles from his linebacker position last season and is the anchor of an experienced linebacking crew (though starting middle linebacker Orie Lemon tore his ACL in practice and will now miss the entire 2009 season). OSU's starting defensive ends Derek Burton and Ugo Chinasa also return but only had a combined 2.5 sacks between them last year. New defensive coordinator Bill Young returns home to his alma mater from Miami with a big reputation behind him. Can he get the defense turned in the first game?
What are the Dawgs going to do?
When Georgia opened the 2007 season by hosting the Cowboys in Sanford Stadium, Oklahoma State came in touting the “greatest offense on earth.” By using a controlled defensive attack, the Dawgs were able to shut down their offense and used special teams and field position to lay a 35-14 beat down on Oklahoma State. Defensively, I think the Dawgs will take a similar approach in 2009. If they over commit to the run, Zac Robinson and Dez White will have a field day on the inexperienced Georgia secondary. Instead, I look for the Dawgs to use the defensive push to contain Robinson and prevent him and Kendall Hunter from getting outside. Defensive end Rod Battle had arguably his best game against Oklahoma State in ’07 and with Justin Houston out, he will need to once again step up. I also expect the linebacker crew, led by Rennie Curran, to spy Robinson, preventing him from using his legs to pick up large chunks of yards on the ground.
I also suspect Georgia to put a lot of pressure on the Oklahoma State kicking game. A key punt block helped get things going for the Dawgs in ’07, and we all know what Prince Miller can do if he gets a few good blocks:
I expect Joe Cox to enjoy his first game back as a starter since his freshman season. The 110th ranked pass defense that only returns one starter in the defensive backfield will have a tough time covering AJ Green and Michael Moore. I look for the Dawgs to come out throwing early in the game, but balance it out near the end of the first half with a healthy dose of Richard Samuel and Carlton Thomas. Also, look for the tight ends to play a bigger role this year as I expect both Aron White and Orson Charles to catch multiple passes from Cox in this game.
What’s going to happen?
If recent history has taught us anything, a good defense from the SEC typically has the ability to hold powerful Big XII offenses in check (for further evidence, see last year’s Cotton Bowl and National Championship games as proof). I expect Georgia to come out with an aggressive offensive attack that will immediately put Oklahoma State on their heels. The emotion of the crowd will bring the Cowboys back and their high powered offense will eventually get going. But this a Mark Richt coached team, and since becoming head man in 2001, Richt has lost exactly 4 true road games (LSU in ’03, Auburn in ’04, Kentucky in ’06, Tennessee in ’07). The Dawgs will not be intimidated and will make a strong charge in the second half. This will be a close one, and both teams will put a lot of points on the board.
Dawgs win with some very late defense, holding off an Oklahoma State charge.
Georgia 34, Oklahoma State 31