I finally added a couple posts that I worked on earlier this week, but just put the finishing touches on this morning. Now for my final thoughts as the Bulldogs ready themselves to begin the 2009 season with low expectations and little to no hype.
(1) Can Willie Martinez’s defense rebound from last year’s disappointments to slow down the Pokes offense?
This is the question that probably gives most Dawg fans restless nights and a frankly dire outlook on the 2009 campaign. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. The defense in 2008 was just plan terrible. The numbers show a top 30 defense, but those figures are skewed by playing some offensively challenged teams in the 1st half of 2008. Every good offense that Georgia played shredded them last year. The biggest question is whether anyone can pressure the QB from the DE spot. With Justin Houston out for two games and no clear world-beaters emerging a la David Pollack/Quentin Moses/Marcus Howard, the answer remains unclear. With the Pokes returning their version of the Triplets in Robinson, Hunter, and Bryant it will be imperative for the defense to show up in form in Stillwater. I think this is a defense that’s been preparing with a chip on its shoulder after the disasters from last year and will rebound. They’ve had eight months to absorb what happened last year and resolve to get better and I think they will be. They won’t completely shut down the Oklahoma State machine, but they’ll hold them down enough to give the offense a chance to put some points up.
(2) Ball Control
I think the key to the game is going to be physically man-handling this Oklahoma State defense. The best defense may be just what Alabama did t us in the 1st half last year. Just keep pounding the ball and never give the other team the ball. If Georgia wins the time of possession battle I think it wins this game.
(3) Coach Richt
Last year was a learning experience for him and I think it made him a better coach. I, like T. Kyle King, believe the man will retire as the winningest coach in Georgia history and I believe in Coach Richt. I genuinely hope that the 2008 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs affects him like the 1988 version of the Florida State Seminoles did Bobby Bowden. Mark Richt has only lost three times in non-conference games, twice of those in bowl games. He is 31-4 in opposing team’s stadiums. Just one final thought. Who would you rather have coaching your team?
Or would you rather have this guy?
Under Gundy, Oklahoma State is O’fer versus Texas and Oklahoma. We’ve heard this story before. Balanced offense that gains 200+ passing and 200+ rushing plays Georgia in the opener of the highest hyped team in school history. Question marks abound on defense. We all remember how that played out last time in Athens. Mark Richt will figure out a way to get this done. I have complete confidence in this team and I can’t wait until tomorrow. Let’s GATA!