rent like champion

September 6, 2009

Off to A Slow Start...

Oklahoma State 24, GEORGIA 10
My initial reactions from yesterday's two-touchdown loss in Stillwater (photo by Kelly Lambert of Online Athens): Georgia is going to miss Matthew Stafford much more than I anticipated and am I allowed to change my prediction of the Bulldogs' final record from 9-3 to 7-5 or even 6-6?
If you were to inform me before the game Georgia would hold OSU's high-powered offense to 24 points and 307 total yards, I'd tell you the Bulldogs would win their 13th consecutive season opener. Georgia drove 80 yards in 10 plays to a touchdown on the game's first possession, the Cowboys were then forced to punt, and another victory in a season-opening contest, at the time, seemed like a great possibility. However, the Bulldogs' offense would sputter, gaining only 182 yards and scoring just three points the rest of the game.
A Georgia loss in a season opener is a rarity. The Bulldogs had not opened the year up with a loss since 1996 (Jim Donnan's first team) and had suffered only 24 total in 115 seasons of Georgia football. Coach Richt's squads had especially performed well in season-opening games, that is, until yesterday.
One can point to a variety of reasons for the defeat, including breakdowns in special teams play. In addition, Joe Cox and the offensive line were sub-par against what was thought to be a be an average defense which allowed 406 yards and 28 points per game a year ago. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs' main issue yesterday was the very same one that plagued them in 2008: the defense's inability to force turnovers.
After a season of gaining just 16 turnovers, Georgia's lowest amount in its history, in 13 games, the Dogs forced none against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, our offense committed three turnovers, including two critical fumbles--both leading to Cowboy scores. The difference in this season from last, however, is in 2008 Georgia had a tremendous offense that could reconcile for its defense's inefficiencies. This season, from what we've seen thus far, the offense is far from tremendous.
This Saturday Georgia's offense will face a very good defense--one seemingly better than Oklahoma State's. To make matters worse, the Bulldog offense has struggled mightily against South Carolina in recent years. Since 2000 and having primarily productive offenses, Georgia has averaged just 317 total yards per game and scored a total of only 10 offensive touchdowns in the nine meetings against the Gamecocks. It appears this Saturday's game could certainly be another Georgia-South Carolina defensive standoff. Regardless, defensive struggle or not, hopefully Georgia's defenders can finally force some turnovers and help earn the Bulldogs their first win of 2009.

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