Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Georgia of Wrath: Oklahoma State Preview

“When someone tells you, 'You can't do something,' it motivates you and you better yourself.”

That quote from starting quarterback Joe Cox sums up where the Georgia Bulldogs sit going into the 2009 season. After a disappointing 2008 season and the loss of Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford to the NFL Draft, Georgia heads to Stillwater as an underdog. When these two teams met to open the 2007 season, many questioned whether Georgia would be able to stop the Oklahoma State offense (which the Oklahoma State Web site touted as the greatest offense on Earth prior to THAT season). What followed was a 35-14 Georgia beat down:

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.

Who are these guys?

The Cover curse bit the Dawgs in ’08. Will it take a bite out of the Pokes in ’09?

"Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma. Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum. Don't mean nothing itself, it's the way they say it."
The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 18

You just down right offensive, boy. Offense, offense, offense. All off season, we have heard the same thing over and over. Oklahoma State returns all three of its key offensive stars that make up one of the best attacks in the country. If it wasn’t for Tim Tebow, quarterback Zac Robinson would be a household name as one of the best dual-threat players in the country. Robinson has accounted for 7,000 total yards in the past 2 seasons (1,355 rushing and 5,559 passing) since taking over the QB reins from Bobby Reid. Yes, the same Bobby "I'm a man, I'm 40!" Reid who Georgia pounded to open the year in ’07. Robinson will have running back Kendall Hunter to hand the ball off to. As a sophomore in ’08, Hunter rushed for over 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns (numbers comparable to those of Knowhon Moreno). Robinson and Hunter are talented, but OSU’s best player is wideout Dez Bryant, who returns as a preseason All American and arguably the best receiver in the nation. Bryant had a marvelous 2008, racking up 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns on 87 receptions. In addition to these three, the Cowboys also return six other starters from the 2008 offense that ranked 7th in the country, including offensive tackle and Outland Trophy nominee Russell Okung.

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?

The intangibles for the Cowboys lie with their fiery head coach and the excitement that comes with the school’s highest preseason ranking ever. Coach Mike Gundy is very passionate about his team, but they still managed to drop all of their key games (Oklahoma, Texas, Oregon) and only reached 9 wins last year. Opening the overhauled T. Boone Pickens Stadium against a powerful SEC opponent on national television will be quite a challenge for the Pokes.

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


Anonymous said...

On the punt return I never noticed before that the announcer says "he only has MIMBS to beat"! Uh....wrong team.

Scott said...

Almost the exact same scenario and score that I have been saying...I think the Dawgs get up on them in the third quarter, and then hold off a late rally to win 31-28.


Earl said...

Anon 5:42,

Thank goodness that Mike Patrick has been moved off of the true ESPN night game and replaced by Brad Nessler. That's a big step up, especially teaming with Todd Blackledge. Now, if ESPN would stop making Blackledge do those ridiculous "taste of the towns".