The University of Georgia Bulldogs suffered an irritating loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the opening week of the 2009 College Football season. They fell 24-10 in their first week one loss under current coach Mark Richt. The Oklahoma State Cowboys avenged a week one loss in Athens Georgia from two years ago with this years "rematch" win in Stillwater Oklahoma.
The Dawg Nation had high expectations of new players after losing a lot of quality starters to the 2009 NFL Draft, including Knowshon Moreno, Mohamad Massaqui, and the number one overall pick in the draft: Matthew Stafford. The Dawgs returned star wide receiver A.J. Green on offense, and Rennie Curran on defense (the SEC's leading tackler from last season).
High expectations were put on Joe Cox, the senior quarterback came into the game rumored to be suffering from "flue like symptoms". Joe Cox went 31-0 in high school, and led the Dawgs in a comeback win over Colorado two years ago replacing Matthew Stafford in the 4th Quarter. Joe Cox came out slow, and looked confused on the field. His throws were off all game; overthrowing his passes, not releasing the ball quick enough, and not finding the open receivers. Richard Samuels and Carlton Thomas took a majority of the carries for the Dawgs in Saturdays loss. Samuels and Thomas beat out Caleb King, who was injured in part of the off-season. Samuels and Thomas alike had their moments but neither could break the big run, or fire up the team like Knowshon Moreno. Samuels took heat from the fans for going down to early on his runs and not maximizing his yardage.
The Georgia defense played great with the exception of a big touchdown pass to Dez Bryant in the 2nd quarter. The offensive turnovers gave the Cowboy's a majority of their scoring opportunities. The Dawg's defense lacked two things despite slowing down the Oklahoma State high powered offense, penetration and pressure from the line, and turnovers. The strongest part of this Georgia team yesterday was the kicking game. Returning starter Blair Walsh nailed a 53 yard field goal to add to the lone touchdown scored on the opening drive (pass from Joe Cox to Michael Moore). Drew Butler did a phenomenal job punting the ball yesterday, consistently starting Oklahoma State in bad field position.
Injuries killed the Dawgs last year, the program suffered 17 season ending injuries including Trenton Sturdivant who tore his ACL and was out for the season. Sturdivant had an incredible freshman year and was a first team SEC defensive lineman. Sturdivant left Saturday's game after going down on a play and favoring his left leg. We now know that Sturdivant tore his left ACL for the second year in a row and coach Mark Richt has said "He did tear the ACL, he'll be out,". It's a tough loss for the Dawgs, but Sturdivant's backup, Vince Vance, will not be new to the line and is experienced with playing time from last year.
Georgia has a shot to come out against a strong defense in South Carolina next Saturday night on ESPN(2). Will the offensive play calling be better? Will the defense apply pressure and create turnovers? Will the team finally get excited during the game? If not, the trend will continue from last season and the Dawg Nation will continue to "bark" about the lack of changes and execution from this highly talented program.