Georgia Bulldogs: Five Keys To Leaving Stillwater With A Win
We are only three days away from one of the most anticipated season openers in Georgia football history.
On Saturday the 13th ranked Bulldogs will invade Stillwater, Oklahoma to play the ninth ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.
This game could well set the season's pace for both the winner and loser of this game.
The Cowboys are looking to win their first Big 12 Championship and become a National Title dark horse. Georgia, on the other hand, enter the season with something to prove after a "disappointing" 10-3 campaign in 2008.
The following slides will outline the five keys to a Bulldog victory in Stillwater.
Thanks for reading and Go Dawgs!
1. Make the Oklahoma State Offense One Dimensional
With the return of seven starters on offense and players like Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter, and Dez Bryant at skill positions, it will be impossible to completely shut down the Cowboys.
In my opinion, the Bulldogs should try to make the offense one dimensional by focusing primarily on the running game.
OSU were ranked 8th in the nation for rushing yards per game. 1,555 of those yards came from star running back Kendall Hunter, and 562 of those yards were the product of dual-threat quarterback Zac Robinson.
In football, the team that can establish the ground attack is normally the team that ends up on top. In this game, the Bulldogs should use their strength at defensive line to clog the line of scrimmage and hold both Robinson and Hunter to under 100 yards combined.
If the defense can stop the run, it will cut Oklahoma State's average yardage per game in half. A team that only gets 280 yards in a game is not going to come out on top and the Bulldogs have the speed and strength to play lights-out run defense.
2. Create Turnovers
One goal that all teams have in common going into a game is to win the turnover battle.
The Bulldogs were ranked 73rd in the country in turnover margin with -0.23 turnovers per game in '08. Oklahoma State had +0.38 turnovers per game.
The Cowboys come into this game with an advantage statistically, but how will they fair against a hard-hitting SEC defense?
If Georgia can put pressure on Zac Robinson, he is almost certain to try and squeeze a few balls to Dez Bryant while in double coverage. Prince Miller and Reshad Jones would love to get their hands on some passes. The word on the street is that the Bulldog defense has improved their ball skills dramatically.
In addition, if the defense succeeds in shutting down the run defense, Kendall Hunter might let one drop after getting hammered a couple of times.
If the Bulldogs can create turnovers and the Georgia offense can capitalize on them, it will take a lot of pressure off of Joe Cox and company.
Turnovers lead to points and since they are playing against a Big 12 style offense, the Bulldogs should score as often as possible.
3. Keep Careless Penalties to a Minimum
This slide should not even have to be on here, but after a dismal display of discipline in 2008 (nine penalties per game, 72 penalty yards per game), I expect Mark Richt to have the team much improved in this area.
However, until I see some evidence of some self-control, I find that it is necessary to mention this, especially against Oklahoma State.
The Bulldogs must not give the OSU offense any second chances. Personal fouls and pass interference calls will only lead to a Cowboy touchdown which is the last thing the offense needs -- to play from behind.
With a veteran offensive line, I don't expect many holding calls, but the offense can not afford to make the field even longer and make themselves prone to third and longs.
4. Protect the Quarterback and Create Running Lanes
With our primary strength on offense being the offensive line, Mike Bobo should utilize this opportunity to keep the OSU offense off the field and control the pace of the game.
To start the game, the Bulldogs should catch the OSU defense off-guard and give Joe Cox an adequate amount of time to make intelligent throws down field.
After the Bulldogs shows the defense that the offensive line allows Cox to pick apart the secondary, they should spread the defensive line out and create holes for the talented, yet young, stable of running backs to slow down the pace of the game and eat up the clock.
A strong offensive line is probably the best asset an offense can have. An outstanding offensive line can make even the most mediocre of quarterbacks and running backs look prolific - not to say that Joe Cox and Richard Samuel are mediocre.
By creating time and lanes, the Bulldog offense will not only score points, but give the defense a break and keep OSU's offense from scoring points as well.
5. Play with Passion
This off season has been encouraging to us 'Dawg' fans as we've heard stories of brotherhood, leadership and determination.
This Saturday we will see if it was all talk or if the definition of "team" has been restored to the Georgia locker room.
I expect nothing less than for the entire team to lay it all on the line and play Georgia football. The team needs to play with energy, passion, and swagger that didn't exist a year ago.
Passion is probably the best attribute of a champion (just ask Tim Tebow). If this team can play like champions, they will leave Oklahoma 1-0 and will have put themselves on the national radar.
It's time for some Georgia football folks! Let's hunker down Dawgs and finish the Drill!