Frustrating role reversal from 2008
By TYLER ESTEP
STILLWATER, Okla. — Georgia’s offense spent the majority of last season trying to bail out a Bulldogs defense that was statistically the worst under coach Mark Richt, as it surrendered 38 points or more in four of its final six games.
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Saturday marked the defense’s turn to try and return the favor.
While the offense floundered and failed to score a touchdown after its first drive of the contest, Georgia’s defense held Oklahoma State’s three-headed Heisman attack in check, holding the Cowboys to 24 points, their lowest total in a win since 2005.
But the Georgia offense couldn’t capitalize, producing just 10 points and spoiling the defense’s efforts.
“Bottom line, we lost,” said defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. “We could have played better.”
The Bulldogs held all-everything receiver Dez Bryant to three catches and 77 yards (two of those catches and 65 of those yards coming on one possession), his lowest total since Oct. 25 of last year against Texas.
They contained dual-threat quarterback Zac Robinson to the tune of 11-of-22 passing for 135 yards and 39 yards rushing. And they largely stopped tailback Kendall Hunter, limiting him to 78 yards on 23 carries.
“It was pretty good, but we could have gotten more stops, gotten more fourth-down stops, blocked some field goals, done anything to do better and help us win,” said defensive tackle Jeff Owens. “We could have had some turnovers, but we didn’t get them. It’s really frustrating. If we had gotten them, it would have turned the game around. No doubt.”
The Bulldogs had several possible interceptions slip through their hands (literally and figuratively) Saturday, and at key moments in the game. Safety Reshad Jones and cornerback Vance Cuff had balls bounce off their hands during the same drive in the second quarter, when the Bulldogs were still up 7-0 and could have kept positive energy coming their way.
The Cowboys faltered on that drive but scored in three plays on the following one en route to taking a 10-7 lead and the momentum into halftime.
“I have nothing but good thoughts about how we did as a defense,” said linebacker Rennie Curran, who led the Bulldogs with eight tackles. “But we see what opportunities we missed, and we have to improve on those. There were balls that should have been picked off or picked up, and those are missed opportunities.”
Had Georgia’s defense been told it would hold an Oklahoma State squad that averaged more than 40 points a game last season to 24 before Saturday, it might have been happy.
But it wasn’t enough this time around.
Said quarterback Joe Cox: “Our defense played an incredible game, and we didn’t do our part.”