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

Trade School Junkie

August 26th, 2009
12:13 pm

The BIGGEST question for uga that has not yet been answered goes back to last year:

Why didnt CMR start Joe Cox at QB for the bowl game vs. MichSt?

CMR had every reson to believe 24 & 7 were not coming back in 2009.

So why didnt CMR give Cox the much needed playig time…before a killer first game start vs. OKST?

It would have been the better choice to risk losing the bowl game in order to give Cox the playing time. Instead, CMR stuck with 24 & 7 the whole way.

After OKST CRUSHES uga, CMR’s decision to not give Cox the start and much-needed playing time for the bowl game will be looked back upon as a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE mistake.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
12:16 pm

now trade school, u have to play every game to win it

senoiadawgs

August 26th, 2009
12:23 pm

If you all have to load the line to stop the run that will be bad. Traditionally that doesn’t work out to well for a weak D. I know you all have some good skill people on D but our skill players are just as good if not better. As you point out, and I am sure you can tell from my earlier post I am not a delusional dawg, can Cox get our skill guys the ball when he has too. From what little we have seen of him he can. It will not be as pretty as Stafford’s good passes but it appears it will not be as bad as Stafford’s bad ones.

I for one am looking forward to this season with guarded skepticism. If all of the reports coming out of Athens are accurate, it could special. We will just not know until we see them on the field.

I’m not really worried about OSU hanging 40+ on us in the first game. The D players know the tradition and will not let it happen. To me it comes down to what I said earlier, if we have success in the run game we will win. If not, OSU wins 20-17.

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
12:23 pm

I imagine trade school junkie is one of those Falcons fans that hope they lose for a better draft pick.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
12:29 pm

Now senoiadawgs, all due respect to ur comments, to think Cox is able to perform good, i dont see it, maybe if this was a home game for you guys. Plus your RB is not going to be as good as last year. Will be a good game for sure, i just think the puppies will get down early and not run the ball. Have to pass it and thats why OSU wins

ZP

August 26th, 2009
12:33 pm

are you kidding trade school moron?? Why didn’t Richt not start his QB that had started the past 3 years and would be the #1 pick in the draft and his starting RB who would be #12?? You don’t just drop a gut who has played for you because he might not come back the next year. That was probably the dumbest argument I have EVER heard in my life! And I follow politics!

ZP

August 26th, 2009
12:34 pm

lose a great RB but gain a great O-line. I think the running game will be as good if not better than last year.

GeoffDawg

August 26th, 2009
12:36 pm

While our running back position has taken a step back, our offensive line has taken a huge step forward. Let’s not forget that Knowshon turned a lot of what would’ve been 3 yard losses for most backs to 1 or 2 yard gains. Even with a less skilled and experienced running game, the O-Line should be able to open big enough holes to minimize that liability.

ZP

August 26th, 2009
12:40 pm

and pokesfan- the reason you scored a lot of pints on OU was because they scored so easily on you pretty much every possession that you had a lot of chances to score by them having to kick the ball back to you after scoring on you. Until two teams play each other you can not go by “well we scored this on you, and they scored this on them and they scored this on you and they only scored this on us so we are then better than you” that is ridiculous. By that logic, LSU should have beat the crap out of us since GT only scored 3 on them and 45 on us and we lost to GT and they beat the crap out of them. Yet, we beat LSU. UGA and OK State on the field together is the only way we will know who will win it and the only thing that matters until then is the last game. It was a blowout. Until Sept 5th, you have no basis for any smack talk. After that, I still don’t think you will. We’ll see.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
12:41 pm

ok, but no homerun threat like Knowshon, he could break one at anytime, u dont have that now

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
12:43 pm

And guys please dont think this is the same OSU defense that got its A$$ whooped when we played u guys last time, were alot better from then

JaxDawg

August 26th, 2009
12:44 pm

pokesfan – not saying that our defense will be the 07 one, but two of the key components of that defense J.Owens and M.Washington were out last year with injuries. Both are back and healthy. Anyone who thinks our defense won’t be much improved from last year is simply fooling themselves.

On offense, our line will be one of the best in the country, so Cox doesn’t have to be as talented as Stafford (though the drop off between the two is much closer than many realize), because the line will be extremely strong and deep because we had to play so many last year due to injuries. Again a good line can make an average QB look great and a bad line can make a great QB look average. It will be a long day for the okie defense if they try to load up the box and test Cox’s ability to get the ball to AJ, M.Moore, Brown, King, Wooten, and Charles.

BTW- glad to hear you will be back here win or lose.

Drew-G-A

August 26th, 2009
12:51 pm

The 2002 opener against Clemson was nailbitingly awesome.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
12:58 pm

Agree with you about O-lines, O-state has a good one. Plus we have a very good QB and RB’s, and Dez is the man, two guys will be on him all game, Plus we dont run it down your throat everyplay, our no huddle offense is going to give you guys problems, we will score close to 40, the only thing is can ur guys outscore us.

austindog

August 26th, 2009
12:58 pm

That Cowboys song was originally written: “The maverick touches our skin, another prairie morning begins”

ZP

August 26th, 2009
1:01 pm

our current RBs are all faster than Knowshon. As elusive? probably not, but can still threaten the HR. anyway, we don’t want to score quickly on you guys. The longer we can drag out our possession and wear down the defense and keep the offense off the field the better. Get used to the term “3 yards and a cloud of dust”

ZP

August 26th, 2009
1:03 pm

i would put a good bit, and will, on the fact that OSU will NOT score near 40 on us. Maybe 30, but that’s a stretch I believe.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
1:06 pm

ok, its at OSU, we scored forty or more every game last season and we are better this season on offense

austindog

August 26th, 2009
1:18 pm

pokesfan, from one fan to another, you only THINK you are better on offense this year. Likely better, probably better, but until the games start it’s just speculation. Take that from a fan of a former consensus preseason #1.

Kelly's a Dawg

August 26th, 2009
1:19 pm

Well Cowgirl fans, I just hope your boy Zac Robinson has a better outing than the last time he faced the Dawgs (that’d be two years ago in 2007). He went 1-1 with an awesome 5 yard completion. Woohoo!

Cox is going to be great behind our line. And the Dawg’s defense will be dramatically improved from last year, having better focus and less penalties. OSU’s riduculously overrated offense is in for a big surprise next Saturday.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
1:21 pm

well we never know for sure untill game time, but if all the puppies fans can say cox and the rbs wont miss a beat, i think me saying OSU offense has a better chance to fullfeel what i say more than what the puppies have been saying about cox.

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
1:23 pm

Plus like i have already said before, I’m an OSU fan i am use to dissappointment, look at the last five years against texas

G

August 26th, 2009
1:31 pm

Could we put one on Okie state like Bama whooped Clemson last year in the dome?

Corrine Brown

August 26th, 2009
1:35 pm

SEPT 6
“I was a man”now Iam a female dog

austindog

August 26th, 2009
1:40 pm

Pokes, Now that’s thread that could really get going, you think YOU’RE used to disappointment? Meet us back here drunk on Oct 31st after the Texas/Florida games and we’ll have it out.

AceDawg

August 26th, 2009
1:40 pm

pokesfan, it IS possible you guys score 40 on UGA being as our defense hasn’t proven itself to be better yet from last year, but you should seriously prepare yourself for a potentially very different outcome – say under 20 points. it probably won’t be because OSU still wouldn’t move the ball, but turnovers happen and SEC defenses are usually pretty good at taking the ball away (UGA was a huge exception last year but not in the past). Martinez as our D coordinator grays our hair, but I’ll give him one more shot because I think the talent on D is there. I only need to see a pass rush to think this could be a great year for the Dawgs.

senoiadawgs

August 26th, 2009
1:44 pm

ok pokesfan, don’t get carried away, you all did not score forty or more every game last season… more like 24 or more and the fewest you gave up to a real opponent was 17 baylor and washington state do not count

Trade School Junkie

August 26th, 2009
1:45 pm

The facts remain:

CMR had EVERY SINGLE reason to BELIEVE Stafford as not coming back in 2009.

Hell, even uga fans admit that it was obvious that Stafford wasnt “committed” to the uga program and coming back for his senior year, and “always had his sights on the NFL” to quote one uga poster.

It would be a bad HC statement about CMR if he couldnt ANTICIPATE that Stafford was leaving.

CMR could have benched Stafford in the 2nd half to let Cox geet playing time. But he didnt.

That was a MAJOR MISTAKE by CMR, and the penalty for that mistake will be “under-performance by Cox to start the early season.

GA will lose BIG to OKST, struggle to a win vs. USC, and lose an offensive shoot-out with Ark.

1-3 to start the season. Thank CMR for that.

shards1967

August 26th, 2009
1:47 pm

IF UGA wins the game vs OSU, then the UGA detractors will say UGA only beat a patsy. If UGA loses to the Cowboys, the same crowd will say UGA is lousy. IF UGA wins the SEC East, then the same detractors will scream that the SEC is in a down year BUT that the SEC West team will destroy UGA in the Big Game at the Atl dome. So on and so forth. Who cares?

I will guarantee you that real SEC fans ( actual grads ) have decent respect for their school’s conference opponents. My dad was a Gator and my grandfather was a Yellow Jacket and so forth. Do I enjoy defeating these schools? You betcha. Did they enjoy handling the Dawgs? Oh yeah. Of course in my UGA days, in the late 60s and early 70s, we blew them away. HAHAHAHAHA

All of the sissy lil negatives that I read about UGA or Florida or others is rooted in jealousy. No actual $$$ matriculation at these schools, for the bloggers, so their “opinions” do not matter. Sort of like political morons that LOVE one guy or other but never, ever vote. Geeeeeeeeeez, they matter so little to me.

Gooooooooooooooooo Dawgs !!!

shards1967

August 26th, 2009
1:56 pm

OSU needs to fully grasp the UGA fullback situation. These two gents at Georgia are big time backs. No, they are not sprinters BUT they WILL cause the Pokes some major probs. They can block extremely well, they can run low and hard for key yardage. They can slide out of the backfield and catch a lil dump pass and then go head hunting for 5′10″ 185 pound corners. They will extend Cox’s pass yardage metrics by a bunch with this scheme.

The full backs will alllow the offense to prosper and sustain drives. Augment their great blocking and maybe in double full back sets, then Orson Charles or one of the other UGA tight ends will take it from Joe Cox and hurt them.

Gonna be fun. CWM better be ready. Clock on him will soon be running.

Go Dawgs

G

August 26th, 2009
2:19 pm

Shards hate to call you out. But as a third generation bulldog not the son of a gator with a yellow jacket grandfather. I did not attend school in Athens would have loved to be there but they did not offer the program I was interested in. Orson Charles has never played a down but I do agree he is a beast. FYI corners and safteys usually do the head hunting. Sorry Shards but we all know you are St Simons.

Go Dawgs

how2fish

August 26th, 2009
3:14 pm

Samuel will get 100+ yards..Cox will be just fine and Rennie Curry will take Dez’s scalp if he comes across the middle.By the middle of the 3rd we will have ground the Pokies into the dust..again…pokesfan..your talking about not being in the Top of the little 12 but competing with the most consistent team in the SEC for the last decade…please excuse us for not shaking in our shoes at playing a 2nd tier little 12 school..opening day away with a “rookie” QB or not…it will be a good game…for a half…but brother you bring it with passion without a lot of bile…good blogging with you.Come on Sept 5th!

Olddog

August 26th, 2009
4:36 pm

Interesting article, Bill King. You said, “The 2008 dogs were not ready for prime time.” Hindsight is 20-20. I suppose that the Cowboys will give the dogs an adequate test for 2009. Many comments above are dissing the Pokes left and right. However, it seems to me that the Pokes will test the mettle of the 2009 dogs. What do you guess the final score will be? Pokes by 14 maybe?

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
4:51 pm

hey senoiadawgs, I meant that all their home games they did. Love how some of you guys think a qb and rb are just going to lay it to OSU, the way u guys sound is if OSU is a high school team.

SuperB

August 26th, 2009
5:11 pm

If pokesfan thinks OSU will beat Georgia 42-21, he has been out on the range a little too long. When is the last time the Cowboys held any good team to 21 points?

Should be a great game, but expect both teams to score– a lot! With the 2008 injured back, Georgia’s defense will be much better than OSU’s. Can they stop em, no, can they win there– yes!

DawginLex

August 26th, 2009
5:28 pm

The interception idiot is back. Still not willing to express who his team is. WHY? Because he didn’t go to college, never played ANY kind of sport in his life and sits at home behind his computer all day eating donuts wishing he could get a date-even with a blow-up doll.

No, moron, I am not predicting a UGA national title. I am predicting that our QB will do better than everyone expects and our D will be improved because of the depth on the d line.

I am also predicting an opening day win. 36-35. Either way, win or lose, I’ll be here on Monday supporting the Dawgs. You’ll be here hiding behind your computer eating another donut spewing your vomit.

IDIOT

pokesfan

August 26th, 2009
5:30 pm

Oh if you think its going to be a shootout dont know how u think the puppies will win. Oh i dont live in Oklahoma anymore, just went to school there. Great place though, go back three or four times a year for football games.

Kendawg

August 26th, 2009
5:58 pm

I, for one, am glad that the Dawgs open with a highly-rated opponent. The game should give us some indication of how good the team is. I just hope we don’t have a lot of turnovers.

Chad

August 26th, 2009
9:37 pm

OSU 45 -17. Georgia has no QB this year

OrangeCowboy

August 26th, 2009
10:03 pm

“Well Cowgirl fans, I just hope your boy Zac Robinson has a better outing than the last time he faced the Dawgs (that’d be two years ago in 2007). He went 1-1 with an awesome 5 yard completion. Woohoo!” Uh…that would be because he wasn’t starting then and only played about 5 plays in that game. He didn’t take over the starting job until the 3rd game that season. So since then, ZR has started about 22 games while Cox has stood on the sidelines calling in dummy signals and holding a clipboard.

HottCheesE

August 27th, 2009
7:46 am

OranageCowboy- How do you know Cox’s signals were dummys and not live? Did that just blow your mind? The bottom line is the Dawgs will be way too fast on D (and not just at the skill positions). OSU run game will be squashed by UGA’s front seven. Georgia’s D-Line pass rush will be dominant, allowing them to rush only four and drop seven into coverage. I don’t care how good Dez is, if you are doubled the entire night you won’t be able to get open (just ask Calvin Johnson how successful he was again UGA).

HottCheesE

August 27th, 2009
7:50 am

And one more thing…Joe Cox NEVER held a clipboard. So get your facts straight before you post.

OrangeCowboy

August 27th, 2009
9:33 am

Whatever, Cheesy. I don’t really care if his signals were live and he picked his nose rather than holding a clipboard. That wasn’t the point. The point was, he wasn’t on the field playing the past two years and Robinson was. And for what it’s worth, there are a LOT of folks on here that are posting without having their facts straight about OSU either.

I do have to give it up to you on your lines, especially your O-line. I think that will be a huge key in the game. I read where your O-line averages 311. We only have one DT that even weighs 300 and we don’t have a lot of depth there. If UGA gets a lead in the second half, it could be very difficult for OSU to get back in it.

As for your D-line, I think they are good, but I also know what Georgia Tech did to you last year. I’m not saying OSU will do that, but you will not completely “squash” the run game and you won’t totally shut Bryant down. Consider it a good day if you hold him under 125 yards and 2 TDs and keep Hunter under 100 yards. You do that and you will probably win the game, barring turnovers and busts on special teams (ours are ranked No. 1). Otherwise, it is probably a toss-up and will be a really exciting game.

athensgeorgiadogsfan

August 27th, 2009
11:07 am

First off, no, we didn’t win the NC, but ten wins is not a failed season. We’ve not been such a national power in the past, other than 80-82, that we can snub our nose at ten win seasons. I remember Goff, one ten win season out of eight and Donnan, one out of five and even Dooley who had, what, six or eight out of twenty-five? No one loves the Dawgs more than me, but facts are facts.
That being said, Ok State, whom we’re all so worried about, will be exposed early and often. They’ll score, of course they will, but at the end of the day the Dogs will come home 1-0.
Good chance to make some money with us a 6 point underdog.

Georgia Babe

August 28th, 2009
7:18 pm

I love how confident these two OK-state fans are. Cox may have been on the sideline most of his college career, but he’s behind a very experienced O- line. Our defense is going to pound your QB so he cant get the ball off, and we are going to walk away from this game 49-0. I cant wait to see OK-state go home cryin on their celebration night! WHOOOOO Go dawgs