Georgia's Michael Moore, center, comes down with the ball for a touchdown between Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox, left, and Andre Sexton, right, in the first quarter in an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Georgia's defense held the Oklahoma State trio of Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant well below last year's averages, but Bulldogs defensive coordinator Willie Martinez wasn't impressed.
"We weren't good enough to win," Martinez said following Saturday's 24-10 loss to the Cowboys, "and that's the bottom line."
Maligned last season when they gave up 38 points a program-record five times, Bulldogs defenders took a sizable step in leaving those atrocities behind. The Cowboys averaged 40.8 points a game last year and got 10 of their 24 points Saturday courtesy of a Carlton Thomas fumble late in the second quarter and a 74-yard Perrish Cox kickoff return to open the third.
Robinson, Hunter and Bryant combined for 469 offensive yards a game last season. Against Georgia, they totaled 324.
Oklahoma State punted on its first four possessions after punting twice all last season after its opening drive, and the Cowboys were held scoreless through the first quarter. That happened just once last year (at Texas).
"We didn't help our team win, and that's the tough part," Martinez said. "We had opportunities to get some turnovers, and we didn't capitalize on that, and they did. That was probably the difference in the game."
Linebackers Rennie Curran and Darryl Gamble and defensive backs Vance Cuff and Reshad Jones had chances at interceptions.
The Bulldogs used three defensive tackles during the first quarter, shifting Geno Atkins out to end and rotating Jeff Owens, Kade Weston and DeAngelo Tyson inside.
"We started working on it about a week ago, so it's still kind of fresh for me," Atkins said. "It allowed me to blow up the tight end, and Oklahoma State had to adjust to it."
Georgia's defense repeatedly struggled last year when put in difficult situations, but the Bulldogs didn't bend late in the half when OSU had a first-and-goal at the 6 following the Thomas fumble. The Cowboys got to the 1 and went for it on fourth down, but a holding penalty resulted in them settling for a field goal and a 10-7 halftime lead.
"That was a heck of a job by our defense," Martinez said. "That's what we're supposed to do."
The Bulldogs almost held on a fourth-and-short early in the second half following Cox's return, but Hunter produced a first down and extended the short touchdown march. Oklahoma State's final touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter consisted of only 36 yards, and it was aided by a personal foul penalty on Jones.
Martinez was asked about the penalty but said he needed to see the tape, and players were still pondering Hunter's first down, which was by an inch or two.
"If we had gotten the ball back there and stopped the three turnovers, it would have been a whole different ballgame," Owens said. "I thought we did pretty good from a defensive standpoint. I thought the offense played pretty good as far as driving the ball, but turnovers hurt us."
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...