From Necessary Roughness
Time – 9.5.09 @ 3:30 ET on ABC
Line – Oklahoma State -5 (as of 9.1.09)
The Oklahoma State Cowboys return 8 starters this year on one of -if not THE - most prolific offenses in the country. With Kendall Hunter running the ball and Zac Robinson passing to Dez Bryant (definitely one of the 2 or 3 best wide receivers in the nation, if not THE best), this is an offense poised to exceed its 41 points per game scored last season. The Cowboys also return 3 of the 5 starting offensive linemen from 2008 including Russell Okung who is a sure first round draft pick in next April’s draft.
The loss of tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who is now with the Detroit Lions, will allow defenses to focus more on Dez Bryant, being that he will be the main deep threat. However, Oklahoma State has enough talent and protection around Zac Robinson that this offense will be one of the most dangerous in recent years.
Robinson and his offense will have to put up points because this is a defense that had trouble stopping the opposition in 2008. They were near the bottom in total defense in their conference last year, and this year they lose 3 out of 4 of their starters from their 2008 secondary. The defensive line will also need to improve and get more pressure on quarterback’s this year.
Luckily for this defense, week one presents, although a powerhouse program in Georgia, a Bulldogs team that is rebuilding on the offensive side of the ball.
Starting quarter Joe Cox, although a veteran and ready to take over as the starter, is not Matt Stafford. In addition, Knowshon Moreno is gone and although The Bulldogs have multiple talented running backs, (Caleb King, Richard Samuel and Carlton Thomas) can any of these three really do what Moreno was capable of doing?
We will have to wait and see, but till then they will have to employ a running back by committee which may need to be ironed out and week 1 vs. Oklahoma State will not be enough time to figure this out. Georgia also loses one of its top wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi so Cox will have to find a new target this year.
Although they recruit well, Georgia obviously has some holes to fill on offense. Luckily, although young, the offensive line comes back with a year experience under their belt which should help the offense develop.
However, Georgia’s defense is their strength and may present some problems for Oklahoma State. Linebacker Rennie Curran, their defensive anchor is back and he brings with him 115 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 3 sacks during the 2008 season. Along with a strong secondary and defensive front returning, the Georgia defense will be experienced and tough this year.
The key to this game is going to the matchup between the Oklahoma State offense vs. the Georgia defense. Although solid, the Georgia defense does have a tendency to let up points. They allowed over 30 points on 5 occasions last year and lost 3 of those games. This season, in order to win games, the defense will have to be stronger, especially early in the season as the offense finds its footing.
Of the 5 30+ points per game allowed, 4 (1 was against Georgia Tech of the ACC) occasions were against an SEC team, and although they are all tough teams, they do not have offenses as prolific as this Oklahoma State offense.
With the chemistry between Robinson and Bryant already there, I expect Oklahoma State to come out firing and not have too many issues putting up 30+ points in this game, as they did on 10 occasions last year, 5 of which resulted in over 50 points. I expect the Georgia offense to be able to score some points as well due to the weak defense they will be facing, but don’t expect to see them keep up with the Cowboys.