Oklahoma State-Georgia: Key Matchups
DEZ BRYANT VS. GEORGIA'S SECONDARY
Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant is a playmaking freak. The 6'3" junior hauled in 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last year.
Enter Georgia's secondary, which has plenty of experience with three senior starters. This will be group effort, since going man-to-man with Bryant would end in big numbers from the wideout.
The Cowboys' other two starters (senior DeMarcus Conner and redshirt freshman Justin Blackmon) have a combined three career receptions, so Georgia can afford to focus on Bryant as quarterback Zac Robinson's primary target.
Bryant is going to get his hands on the ball, but limiting his yards after the catch will be the biggest key to Georgia's secondary success.
RENNIE CURRAN VS. ZAC ROBINSON & KENDALL HUNTER
Linebacker Rennie Curran won't always have contain responsibilities against OSU's mobile quarterback and dynamic tailback, but the SEC's leading returning tackler has a knack for flying to the ball and an endless motor.
The Cowboys feature a balanced attack and Curran said shutting down the run and making OSU one-dimensional would be the first step in slowing down the offensive juggernaut.
Staying disciplined in OSU play-action situations and recognizing when Robinson is scrambling is instrumental in eliminating momentum-shifting plays.
DEMARCUS DOBBS & ROD BATTLE VS. RUSSELL OKUNG
Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung is a skilled, athletic beast of a man. The All-American and projected first-round pick is the anchor of an offensive line that returns four starters and helped make Oklahoma State's attack the nation's sixth-best in terms of total offense.
Demarcus Dobbs and Rod Battle—Georgia's starting defensive ends—will share time taking on Okung, trying to get pressure on Robinson, and attempting to rope in Cowboy running back Kendall Hunter. Bulldog defensive ends were both injured and lackluster in 2008, and this first test could build the momentum for the position's return to productivity.
GEORGIA RECEIVERS NOT NAMED A.J. GREEN VS. OKLAHOMA STATE'S SECONDARY
Everyone knows A.J. Green. Georgia's then-freshman sensation led the SEC in receiving last season and will be looking to have an equally dominant year in 2009. But, if Georgia's offense is to have any real success, he can't be Joe Cox's only weapon. Senior Michael Moore will be a reliable target, but the four other scholarship receivers, all very inexperienced, must find a way to make an impact and help Green shed some of the double-teams sure to come his way.
The Cowboys' secondary is led by three senior starters, including stud corner Perrish Cox—creating a situation eerily similar to the one the Bulldogs use to try and stop Bryant.
DEZ BRYANT & PERRISH COX VS. JON FABRIS
Oklahoma State boasts two of the premier return men in the world. Bryant was No. 3 in the country in punt returns last season, averaging almost 18 yards per and taking two to the house.
Cox was the nation's No. 3 kick returner in 2008, and lacks only 110 return yards before becoming the Big 12's all-time leader. He also leads all current FBS players with four returns for touchdowns.
Georgia? No. 43 in punt defense and No. 73 in return defense last season. Special teams coach Jon Fabris will have his hands full figuring out how to contain Bryant and Cox.
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