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August 29, 2007

Dawgs hear the hype

ATHENS - Georgia coach Mark Richt says he knows why there is a lot of talk about the No. 13 Bulldogs' visit from Oklahoma State on Saturday: High-scoring offenses cause a stir.

"There's a lot of buzz around for a lot of reasons, and number one is their offense has been tremendous," Richt said Tuesday.

The hype about the Oklahoma State attack has hit Bulldog country in advance of Saturday's game.

The Cowboys return their top skill players from a team that ranked seventh in the nation in scoring last season. Coach Mike Gundy had one of only two teams in the nation to average 200 yards rushing and passing.

The school's marketing department says the Cowboys boast "the most powerful offense in the world."

Receiver Adarius Bowman, who caught 60 passes last year, including 12 for touchdowns, says Oklahoma State has the talent to average 50 points per game.

The numbers and bold talk have reached Athens, but Georgia senior strong safety Kelin Johnson isn't offended. Johnson says he has seen enough film to say the Cowboys can back up the talk.

"Of course, if you believe in yourself you're going to go out there and play like it," Johnson said. "That's one thing I strongly believe in: You feel good, you look good, you play good. Those guys earned the respect. They have every right to feel that way."

Oklahoma State scored 35.2 points per game last season, second in the Big 12 and 10 points more than Georgia.

Among the retuning players for the Cowboys' offense are quarterback Bobby Reid, who threw for 24 touchdowns last year as a sophomore, and running back Dantrell Savage, from Jordan High in Columbus.

Savage rushed for more than 100 yards in five of the last seven games last season.

Bowman was an all-conference receiver while averaging 19.7 yards per catch. Richt compared tight end Brandon Pettigrew to former Georgia star Leonard Pope.

The Cowboys, who beat Alabama 34-31 in the Independence Bowl last season, will be looking for their second straight win over a Southeastern Conference team.

Georgia's defense lost cornerback Paul Oliver, both ends Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses and its top two tacklers, linebackers Tony Taylor and Jarvis Jackson.

"That's something that we are going to try to expose," Reid said. "The defense that I've been watching (on film), those guys have been doing a good job of playing, but we don't know what this defense brings. They've got three guys coming back that played last year. ... I think we have an edge on them there."

Reid's top target and perhaps Georgia's top concern is Bowman (6-4, 220).

"Adarius Bowman is the one everybody wants to talk about," Richt said. "He's arguably one of the most talented receivers in the country. He's big. He has great speed and hands and the ability to catch the tough ball and run after the catch. He's a great football player who can absolutely create some problems."

Johnson calls Bowman "the total package."

"Our coaches are boosting him up, which they should," Johnson said. "The more film you see of him, you say 'OK, the coaches are right.' Credit is due when you see him."

Oklahoma State was 4-7 and ranked only 92nd in the nation in total offense in 2005. The Cowboys have not defeated a Top 25 team on the road since winning at No. 3 Oklahoma in 2001.

"I don't think there's any question for us to go down there and win would be huge for our football program and our university," Gundy said Tuesday.

The Cowboys' offense has no chance of catching Georgia's defense by surprise.

"I don't think any question all the national attention our offense has seen will be a motivating factor for Georgia's defense," Gundy said. "I don't know any of their players but I'm sure they're very competitive and they're looking forward to the challenge.

"If you have success your name is going to get thrown out there. I feel better about our offense than a year ago when we were 92nd in the country. I think you have to take the good with the bad."

Notes: Richt said junior Brian Mimbs would open as the punter, but freshman Drew Butler also could be used. "The competition is that close," Richt said. ... Georgia's game captains are center Fernando Velasco and tailback Thomas Brown on offense, linebacker Brandon Miller on defense and Johnson on special teams. ... Richt said he expects to play 18 to 20 freshmen, including redshirt freshmen.ay: High-scoring offenses cause a stir.



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