Why I’m glad the Dogs are opening with Oklahoma State

I’ve heard a number of fans bemoaning how Georgia’s killer schedule is getting off to a particularly tough start with an on-the-road opener against a Top 10 team. But as my son and I were discussing, that’s really a good thing, because Georgia seems to have its best years under Mark Richt when it schedules a hard (or supposedly hard) opener.

In contrast, a season where they open with a patsy generally has seen Richt teams underperform, or at least not be quite as successful.

What was the best opening win under Mark Richt?

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Here’s how it’s gone so far:

In 2001, the Dogs opened Richt’s first season with a patsy in Arkansas State and wound up with an 8-4 record (admittedly not bad for a rookie coach’s first year) and a loss in the Music City Bowl.

The next year, 2002, Georgia opened with a tougher opponent, traditional rival Clemson. That season ended in an SEC championship.

Clemson again was the opening opponent in 2003, a road game for the Dogs. Georgia won the SEC East title that year.

It was back down the ladder in 2004, opening with 1-AA Georgia Southern. Now, that certainly wasn’t a bad year, what with a 10-2 record, a demolishing of LSU and a win over Florida, but the Dogs did not meet expectations because they did not win the SEC East, losing to Tennessee and Auburn.

In 2005, Georgia opened with a highly touted visitor from out West, Boise State. Another SEC championship season.

The 2006 season opened with one of those directional patsies, Western Kentucky. The Dogs finished 9-4, with two of those losses to Vandy and Kentucky.

In 2007, the opener was another hyped opponent, Oklahoma State. The Dogs didn’t win the SEC East that year, but they did make it to a BCS Bowl, the Sugar, and wound up the year as the No. 2 team in the country.

Then last year, the preseason No. 1 Dogs opened in what was perceived as underwhelming fashion against 1-AA Georgia Southern. And, again, a disappointing season, despite 10 wins.

Of course, the theory isn’t perfect. After opening with a win over a supposedly tough opponent in 2007, Georgia lost the very next week to South Carolina. And in 2004, after beating a weak opening opponent, the Dogs didn’t lose again until October and had played their best game (LSU) before losing to Tennessee.

And it’s oversimplifying to say that the difficulty of the opening opponent sets the tone for the whole season. The unsettled quarterback situation had a lot to do with the off year for the 2006 team. And it’s entirely possible that if Georgia had played a tough opening game last year, it would have just revealed earlier what we found out against Alabama: The 2008 Dogs weren’t ready for prime time.

But the pattern does seem to show that in the years where we have a tough opening opponent, it tends to get the team focused earlier and they wind up having a better season.

So as difficult as it will be to open on the road against the Cowboys, it’s the best way for Georgia to start this season.

Speaking of openers under Richt, which one pleased you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments, vote in the poll or do both.

195 comments Add your comment

secdawgs

August 26th, 2009
7:23 am

It’s always good to open with a win over Clemson, but the two beat downs of the overrated Boise and OK St teams are even better.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
7:41 am

Ok puppy fans, please come up with more than Gundys rant, Dez is going to have over a 100 yards and Hunter too. 42-21

SomewhereinGA

August 26th, 2009
7:51 am

Where are our two Rump Rangers Saint Simons and Ramblin Wreck???? Two comments already and they are not posting yet?

SomewhereinGA

August 26th, 2009
7:52 am

Ought to be a good game Poke….we will find out soon enough where we both stand this season.

hammerhead

August 26th, 2009
7:52 am

The Boise State destruction was particularly satisfying given how cocky they were coming into Sanford.

BullDawg Rick

August 26th, 2009
7:53 am

Interesting observation… I believe it’s a good thing UGA opens with a “tough” game… vs a conference that’s supposedly as tough as the SEC… Good early exposure.. When we win it’ll be a wake up call to the College Football nation that the Dawgs are indeed a very good team. IMO, the reigns have been pulled in & the players are responding. Go Dawgs!!! 31 – 20

bill dart

August 26th, 2009
7:54 am

i am saint simons

Dawgaholic

August 26th, 2009
7:57 am

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
7:59 am

Oh the SEC is a better conference, but the top of the Big 12 is as strong as the SEC. You guys have alot of faith in a rookie QB that starts the season on the road.

SimpleDawg

August 26th, 2009
8:02 am

Opening with a tough oppontent reveals more about the true strengths and weaknesses of your team than beating up on some inferior team from another classification.

Adversity does more to furthur progress than easy victories, just as tough times don’t build character, they reveal character.

We might as well learn early in the season what works well and what doesn’t….the Cowpokes will offer us that test.

sswinfordawg

August 26th, 2009
8:06 am

Pokesfan is full of S&$#. This will be a repeat of Alabama vs. Clemson in 2008. Okie Dokie state is a joke. We have heard this crap hype before and we know how it ends. Go ahead and start thinking of excuses. 42 points. HA!! This isn’t the POS Big 12 defenses your playing against. This is a real defense. Not saying this is going to happen, but I’m going to laugh until i vomit if the Dawgs hang 30 or 40 on the broke back pokes and hold them to under 20 points.

sswinfordawg

August 26th, 2009
8:08 am

Pokesfan, you have a lot of confidence in an entire rookie defense. Enough said.

TheDawgPound

August 26th, 2009
8:08 am

This year will be different! Opening against the first Top 10 team in at least 30 years…

We will lose. The first game for Cox, whoever plays RB and the WR for Massa. will result in a close loss. But if we win, we just might have a truly special year.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
8:11 am

Oh sswingforpuppy, by ur logic of going back to last year on Big 12 defenses, then the puppies defense is going to suck to, right? Still no answer from the puppies about your rookie QB who starts on the road. Guess u guys think any QB can win with the mighty puppies

CARTERSVILLE DAWG

August 26th, 2009
8:16 am

Hey pokesfan, when did Oklahoma St. get to the top of the Big 12? Shouldn’t you at least have to play in the conference championship game to obtain that status? Ya’ll didn’t really beat anybody that was that good last year, and yes, I am saying that Missouri was not that good. Losses to Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, and even Oregon in the Holiday Bowl make mw wonder why Okie St. is a top team in the Big 2 plus 10?

godawg

August 26th, 2009
8:20 am

pokesfan, too bad then your team in not in the top of the big 12.

sswinfordawg

August 26th, 2009
8:25 am

Cox, who you will be surprised with, will pass all over your POS defense. I guess he will be a good match up against your three rookie DBs. Besides Cox has had enough playing experience to get past all the rookie first time jitters. He knows this entire offense better than stafford did. He is also a more accurate passer than Captain Overthrow. Keep talkin. You must like the taste of crow don’t you?

dawgfanatic24-7

August 26th, 2009
8:27 am

Hokiepokie fan why do you refer to our 5th year sr as a rookie? He has played in much bigger games than the one on Sept 5th. I can’t wait to see how one of the worst defenses in college football handles our air and ground attack. Gonna be a long year full of big 12 excuses.

MARION BERRY

August 26th, 2009
8:28 am

POKESFAN,PASS ME THE PIPE

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
8:34 am

Hey i need to get the pipe from u puppy fans that think cox has played in bigger games than the one at OSU. And yes this year we will be in the top of the Big 12, win it all, who knows, will be tough to beat OU at their home.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
8:36 am

Oh guys keep it coming about our defense when the puppies defense SUCK last YEAR! But guess they are the only team in the country that get better, U guys are living in a dream world if you think they are going to stop OSU scoring

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
8:42 am

Please pokefan tell me how many “big games”you have won?

Hungry Dawg

August 26th, 2009
8:49 am

“pokefan” you should read this, it just might raise your football IQ a couple of points which should bring it up to about 1-1/2.

“Meet Joe Cox: Georgia quarterback
Buzz up!By John Helsley, Staff Writer, jhelsley@opubco.com
Published: August 25, 2009

Georgia quarterback Joe Cox takes over for Matthew Stafford, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

So, Cowboys fans, feeling good about Georgia’s loss of quarterback Matthew Stafford to the NFL?

Finding comfort in the fact that his replacement is Joe Cox, a fifth-year, career backup?

Don’t get too comfortable.

Remember, Mark Sanchez parlayed his one year running the Southern Cal offense into the No. 5 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Closer to home, Texas Tech’s trio of one-year wonders – Cody Hodges, Sonny Cumbie and B.J. Symons – all took turns leading the Big 12 in passing earlier this decade.

And there’s D.J. Shockley, who spun his one turn as the Georgia quarterback into the 2005 SEC championship.

Could Cox become a similar single-season sensation, with a breakout planned in the season opener against Oklahoma State on Sept. 5 in Stillwater?

“I don’t know the critiques he’s being given by the commentators or the scouting reports,” said Bulldogs left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, “but when we look at him, we look at a ball player.

“And when we look at him, we’re ready to play.”

OK, so Cox is not Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in last spring’s NFL Draft. And at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, he’s not particularly imposing.

Neither are Cox’s career stats: 58 pass attempts, 33 completions, 432 yards, five touchdowns. In the Big 12, that’s a good day.

Still, it may be dangerous to assume a significant dropoff from Stafford to Cox.

“I don’t know about a huge dropoff, but it’s going to be hard to fill those shoes,” said Cowboys linebacker Patrick Lavine, almost salivating at the thought. “There’s a good reason Stafford was the No. 1 pick in the draft.

“I still consider (Cox) a rookie quarterback. There’s nothing like starting off behind center. It’s a totally new experience. I’m glad. I’m ready.”

Cox can claim one career start, a win over Ole Miss, although that was three years ago as a redshirt freshman. His greatest moments as a Bulldog also came that year, when he stepped off the bench to lead a 14-13 rally past Colorado, throwing two late touchdown passes.

Otherwise, he’s handled mostly mop-up duty behind Stafford.

From that, however, there’s also something the Dawgs are drawing from.

In last season’s lopsided loss to Florida, with Georgia trailing by 46 points, Cox was thrown into the fray late. Rather than simply run out the clock, he implored the offense to march to a score. It did, with Cox firing a 19-yard scoring pass.

A blip in a blowout, yes, yet typical of the kind of moments that has endeared Cox to his teammates.

At the end of spring drills, the Georgia staff conducted exit interviews with 110 players. Of them, 107 included Cox among the team leaders.

“He’s like that big brother figure,” said star Dawgs linebacker Rennie Curran. “He’s been here for a while. He’s seasoned. He’s watched it from pretty much every angle. He didn’t play much and now coming in and having the world on his shoulders — you have to respect him because of what he’s experienced.”

For all that Stafford meant to Georgia, last year ended as a disappointment. They had stars, with Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno two of six players taken in the draft.

But after opening the season No. 1, the Bulldogs lost three games and settled for the Capital One Bowl.

“We’re not interested in individual stars right now,” said coach Mark Richt. “We are interested in the team shining right now.”

By all accounts, Cox’s everyday persona makes him popular with the team.

He’s upbeat.

Oh, he’s unbeaten, too.

As a prep star in Charlotte, N.C., he went 31-0 as a starter in leading two state title teams. He’s 1-0 at Georgia, with more tales of triumph in his deep past.

“He hasn’t ever lost a game as a starter,” said OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young. “I think he won every game in grade school.

“He’s a veteran. He’s been there, done that.”

Still, he hasn’t done this: hasn’t been Georgia’s main man carrying a heavy load of expectations for a season.

Preparing for this role, Cox has turned to Shockley for guidance.

Like Cox, Shockley was a touted recruit forced to sit and wait for a chance. And he made the most of it.

Can Cox?

Said Richt: “Joe has prepared for this moment.””

This article is from the Oklahoman Newspaper and about sums it up. OSU’s over confidence and lack of respect for Cox will be your undoing. Joe is ready, willing and able and has plenty of skill players around him for support plus what might be the best Offensive line in the SEC and a defense that will certainly hold OSU to under 30 points and maybe under 20.

Dawgs 38 OSU 24

Go Dawgs, Sic Em Woof Woof Woof!!!

dawgfanatic24-7

August 26th, 2009
8:55 am

Cox was the only QB to score a td against Fla last year.Remember Fla?? The national champs?? I guess you think OSwho can beat them too. Your dose of reality will be here in ten days. BTW there is no way your crappy little team can beat Tx.

Georgia

August 26th, 2009
8:56 am

Poke… The difference between the SEC and Big12 is the perception that qb’s and wide receivers make the difference.. when in reality its the line of scrimmage. If you dont win the line of scrimmage then usually you cant win the game, exceptions being penalties, strange turnovers etc. Georgia’s defense had 3 really bad halves last season, but it wasnt that bad. Georgia wont have that happen 2 years in a row, you can count on that. Your 3 guys on offense are very talented and will be tough to slow down and we will see how good they are. Georgia by the way has a receiver who isnt too bad either, and I wonder who is going to cover him?

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
8:57 am

Waiting on a reply on number of big games your ‘man” as won

hop

August 26th, 2009
9:03 am

tell me again, the pokes lost how many games last year and their bowl game as well against pac ten team.

it should be a very interesting and entertaining game.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:05 am

Lmao, U guys are living in a dream world, Oh cox scored a TD against Florida, so did 11 other teams, then put something from the daily oklahoma, yes i read it when it came out four days ago. So keep your hopes alive on cox, cause he scored a TD against Florida, We are so worried about cox when all he will be doing is handing the ball off 80 percent of the time. That is until the puppies are behind by 14 and he has to pass. Then the puppy will have his tail between his legs running scared. U guys need to go see the dog whisper, he might be able to help you puppies out

dawgfanatic24-7

August 26th, 2009
9:06 am

So how successful is this OSU team? What great teams have they beaten? Considering how they lost to Oregon I really don’t think they are that good. Maybe like a Vandy.

Clay

August 26th, 2009
9:07 am

It’s getting old hearing people refer to Cox as a rookie QB or a new QB. He’s a fifth year senior. His only downfall has been playing behind the #1 overall pick in the last NFL draft. Cox knows what he’s doing.

L-Dawg

August 26th, 2009
9:08 am

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!!!

COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS SO MUCH MORE FUN BEING A FAN AND NOT A HATER!!!

GO DAWGS!!!!!

10 SHORT DAYS MY FRIENDS!!!!!

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:09 am

Oh and yes beating Missouri at thier place is a good win, Yeah we lost the bowl game, but if you watched that game then u know why we did, not making excuses because injuries are part of the game

Denver Dog

August 26th, 2009
9:14 am

I’d just say, it is almost time to show it on the field. I for one, think the better the compeititon, the better it makes your team. Do you think Alabama was better or worse for opening with Clemson last year? Will they be better or worse for opening with Va Tech this year? Tee them all up and let’s see who does better, opening with Clemson in 02 or Ok STate in 09, or put one of the big conference games up there. Think how much better UF would look if they opened with someone like Ohio State, or even Boise, or ASU. I know that the coaches don’t get to make the schedule but think about UF vs Utah. That would be a great matchup at the start of the season. I know schedules are made in advance, blah blah blah. I’d rather see UGA go to play at Michigan than sit at home with a cupcake team. I think others feel the same way.

PTC DAWG

August 26th, 2009
9:15 am

OK STATE TOUGH? LOL

yellow fuzz

August 26th, 2009
9:17 am

What’s wrong with being a hater?

georgia will lose their first 3 and last regular season games. I guarantee it. What happens in between I’m not so sure about. No bowl for the dogs at all this year. sorry

dawgfanatic24-7

August 26th, 2009
9:18 am

Com’on pokes fan who have yall beaten?? We are calling you out.I’d also like to know how many teams other than Tx won in a bowl game last year. TTech got beyotch slapped and so did OK.

jdawg

August 26th, 2009
9:20 am

anyone else realize the fact that saint simons hasnt posted since grade school started back? and we thought he was an intern at AJC ha

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
9:20 am

Beating the 25th rated team is a “good” win but once again HOW MANY BIG GAMES HAVE YOU WON?

Whopper Dawg

August 26th, 2009
9:23 am

I don’t think that the type (tough one/easy one) has anything to do with the ultimate success of the season. That being said, if you don’t want to be a BIG DAWG stay on the porch. We beat Okie St, no problem.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:25 am

Last year wasnt suppose to be our year, but we had a good year, not a great year. Our defense sucked last year, but we played alot of young guys who got a years exp. We dont need a Sec defense to win games, as long as we have a top 60 defense we can outscore every one. How good was the puppies defense last year? Oh yeah they SUCKED TOO! they got ran over how many times? 42-21 O-State

Johnny Test

August 26th, 2009
9:27 am

I am happy we are opening up with a top ten opponent on the road. If that won’t get you mentally ready to play then nothing will. When you open up with a patsy it tells you very little about the character of your team. All other things being equal, character/mental toughness makes the difference.

Oklahoma State is a good football team. However, all the pressure is on them… new stadium, 4 NFL round one draft choices on offense, home crowd and favored to win. There is a ton of pressure on those guys and believe me the ones that were around in 2007 know Georgia can play. If we can keep them from getting any cheap scores early and stiffle their momentum we have a good chance of coming away with a win. Should be one hell of a game. I can’t wait!!

gte268p

August 26th, 2009
9:31 am

Jan Kemp proved uga’s championship wasn’t earned.

jdawg

August 26th, 2009
9:31 am

im just glad Ga now has a co defensive coordinator. If things on D dont improve early on then wacky willie might be gone

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
9:32 am

STILL have not answered the question?

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:34 am

4 round one draft choices, I love OSU but they only have two first round players, Hunter is only a Jr, and will be back next year and Robinson is a great college QB that wont make it in the NFL. Well maybe Cox their CB might make first round. And yes it will be a hell of a game, cant wait to be there to watch it.

superDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:37 am

Hokie Pokie you guys should be glad that you are considered to be a tuff opener for UGA, national exposer and all.UGA does the hokie pokie in stillwater.GA49-osu14

bnwdog14

August 26th, 2009
9:39 am

I think pokesfan is St. Simons in disguise

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
9:40 am

Corrine are you living in the past, I’m talking about this season not last season or years ago. Live in the past, never said O-State was a program that has been very good. But OSU did produce the greatest running back ever, Barry Sanders, and yes hes better than herschel walker, yeah i said it on a puppies blog

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:41 am

Probably the 30-0 beatdown of Clemson after such a long layoff in the series was the most satisfying but the demolition of Boise State after all the national hype they’d gotten was the most fun.

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
9:42 am

pokesfan – Barry Sanders may have had a better NFL career than Herschel but if you think he was a better college running back, than you my friend are on the peyote.