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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Behind Enemy Lines: Oklahoma State

Last year, we checked in with opposing beat writers from time to time, but this season, we're making a habit of it.

Each Thursday before a game, we'll have a Q&A with a beat writer covering Georgia's opponent for the week and hopefully get some insight on what to expect in the upcoming game.

First up: Oklahoma State beat writer Brandon Chatmon of The Oklahoman.

You can check out Brandon's work HERE and read his OSU blog HERE.

David Hale: Zac Robinson's lingering injury during the preseason resulted in a media ban by Mike Gundy. From what you can gather, is he feeling 100 percent again? How crucial is it to Oklahoma State's offense to have him at full speed?

Brandon Chatmon:
Zac appears to be OK. It was a injury he's dealt with before and I never saw him limping around or anything close to that. I think OSU was being extremely careful because it is crucial for him to be 100 percent against Georgia. Zac needs to be able to use his running ability to make teams play for the attention they give Dez and Kendall.

DH: There's been plenty of talk about OSU's Big 3 of Robinson, Hunter and Bryant -- and for good reason. But Brandon Pettigrew was such a big part of the Cowboys' offense last season, too. What does his loss mean to the OSU offense?

It's huge. As Georgia fans can probably attest, you don't replace NFL first round picks. The Cowboys will be using a tight-end by committee approach to replace Pettigrew. Jamal Mosley is the favorite to start and he brings the ability to make plays in the passing game but is working to become more physical in the run game. OSU appears to be in a position where they sub tight ends based on the situation. With Pettigrew, who was regarded as the most complete tight end in the draft a year ago, they didn't have to do that.

DH: Defensively, the Cowboys have a new coordinator in Bill Young. What are the changes he's made this offseason from what most of us might have watched last year? Does having a guy like Young help OSU prepare for an offensive style that's pretty different from what the team is used to seeing in the Big 12?

Young has come in with a focus on turnovers and has preached that since day one. He has said the goal of the defense when they come on the field is to score. If they can't do that, get a turnover, if they can't do that, get a three and out. Having Young with his experience in the Big Ten (as D-Coordinator at Ohio State from 1988-95) and going against physical running teams could help against Georgia.

DH: For all the talk about Okie State's offensive stars, the defense struggled last season. But it's a much more veteran group this time around. Who are some players on defense Georgia fans should be keeping an eye out for?

Cornerback Perrish Cox is the main playmaker on defense. He'll be matched up with A.J. Green. Linebacker Andre Sexton is one of the main leaders on defense and sets the tone. Fellow linebackers Patrick Lavine and Orie Lemon are other defensive playmakers to watch. One young guy to keep an eye on is safety Victor Johnson, coaches and teammates speak highly of the sophomore.

(NOTE: Chatmon completed this interview before news broke that Lemon could miss the game.)

DH: Last year Georgia had its highest preseason rank in history, graced the cover of "Sports Illustrated," had a bunch of offensive superstars and high expectations. You know how that turned out. Is handling all the hype surrounding both this game and this season a concern for Oklahoma State, which is in a similar situation this year to what the Bulldogs experienced in 2008? What about the team makes you think they're capable of handling it better than Georgia did?

Handling all the expectations is a big concern. OSU has seen more national coverage this preseason then ever. The coaches and players are saying all the right things but we won't know until Sept. 5. The "one-game-at-a-time" cliché has been in full effect. The Cowboys feel like they'll be helped by eight home games on the schedule and the big-game experience they got in 2008.

DH: I'm guessing many Georgia fans are like me and staying outside of Stillwater on Friday night. (I'll be in Tulsa.) So... any tips on some double-secret back roads to help us navigate our way to the stadium and avoid lines of traffic on game day?

Sadly no. I don't think there are any such roads. No matter where you are coming from, you're going to hit traffic. Leave early, like Thursday... lol.


Steve0 said...

Looking at your question about Pettigrew (who is now catching passes from Stafford) Didn't the Cowpokes starting TE Mosley leave the team this past week?

The Watch Dawg said...

I couldn't help but notice that out of 3 of the guys he listed as playmakers, 2 of them are not playing (the TE and the MLB) and Parrish Cox probably shouldn't be playing.

David Hale said...

Yup! I did this interview on Monday night and by Thursday the team is in chaos. Should tell you a lot about the state of things at OSU.