Instant Analysis: Oklahoma State-Georgia

Staff Columnist
Posted Sep 1, 2007

It's amazing how much of a difference a year can make for a quarterback, a receiving corps, and--potentially--for a program.

The 2007 season is only one game old for the Georgia Bulldogs, but if Saturday night's demolition of a talented Oklahoma State club is any indication of things to come, this is going to be a big year Between the Hedges.

The first two months of last season were an unmitigated disaster for young Dawg quarterback (or should we say, young pup) Matthew Stafford, who stumbled out of the gate, endured a benching, and sagged under the weight of high expectations. Stafford rebounded nicely in November and in the Peach Bowl (no corporate sponsors appreciated here), but Mark Richt's prize pupil needed to start this season the way he finished the last one, and there are no guarantees in the world of sports until you accomplish what you set out to do.

That's why tonight marked a profound triumph for Stafford and the Georgia camp.

Stafford came out of the gate like gangbusters, as did the entire Bulldog offense. Completing eight of his first ten passes in what would be a very efficient and mistake-free performance, Stafford made sure his team gained the upper hand in a battle of potent offenses. His high level of focus was contagious, and it paid dividends in one particularly telling respect: unlike 2006, Stafford's receivers actually held onto his passes. Yes, that's right--Georgia receivers reliably and consistently held onto the pigskin when it was thrown their way.

The good, decent people of Athens suffered mightily last Autumn, as an epidemic of Dropsies Disease infected the whole Georgia receiving corps. No one was immune, and a cure was never fully found. Even in the bowl game, there were some alarmingly bad clang shots off the padded breadbaskets of Georgia jerseys. Lots of numbers--particularly single digits and those in the 80s--were dented with football marks because of all the stone hands possessed by the 2006 Dawgs. If Matthew Stafford was to have a big year, he needed to have help from his pass catchers. Saturday night, the ballyhooed starting quarterback had to be gleeful as his skill position teammates quite literally caught on to the plan in a runaway romp.

Last year was ugly for UGA. This season, on the other hand, started out beautifully for a signal caller and a receiving corps who, if they sustain a high level of performance, could put together a very big year. You might not want to Hedge your bets on Georgia in 2007.

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