August 31, 2009

Dawgs wary of changes brought by Young

Offensively, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had very little to complain about in 2008.

Defensively, well, that was another story. p>The Cowboys ranked 52nd in rushing defense (137.8), 93rd in total defense (405.5), 76th in scoring defense (28.1) and 109th in pass defense (267.7).

Those are numbers that new defensive coordinator Bill Young desperately hopes to improve.

Young comes to OSU after previous stints as the defensive coordinator at places like Oklahoma (1996-97), Southern Cal (1998-2000), Kansas (2002-2007) and Miami (2008).

His 2007 Kansas squad finished the year No. 12 nationally in total defense and fourth in scoring defense as the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl.

"We think we'll be improved, how much we'll find out (Saturday)," Gundy said. "Coach Young has done a nice job. He's gelled well with the three other coaches. He's all about find pressure on the quarterback and eliminating the big plays."

But it's that little air of mystery that has Georgia coach Mark Richt just a little bit concerned.

Since this is Young's first year with the Cowboys, the Bulldogs' offensive brass has spent much of their film work looking back at the veteran defensive coach's previous stops.

"If he (Young) keeps doing what he's been doing, it would be helpful," Richt said. "If he does those things at least we will have some idea. I'm not saying we'll know everything he'll do but we're going to have a good basis to go with by watching that film. Now if he comes out and decides to be a 3-4 guy instead of a 4-3 guy it would be interesting. But that takes a lot to do and I don't know if he's going to come off what his philosophy has been just for a one-game surprise."

Young recently told O-State Illustrated that he believes progress is being made. It sure beats his first season at Kansas in 2002 when Young didn't know if he'd ever have the talent to survive.

"Oh my gosh, we're so much more talented now than we were then," Young told the site. "I don't want to be negative, but we were not real talented (at Kansas). I remember the first spring practice we had down there and another coach and myself looked at each other and said 'Oh my God, what have we gotten ourselves in to?' It was a struggle."

That's apparently not the case at OSU.

The Cowboys return five defensive starters, including all three linebackers in Andre Sexton, Orie Lemon and Patrick Levine.

Still, when the Cowboys line up against Joe Cox and company Saturday afternoon, Young will hope his defense will be able to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback than it did last fall when OSU managed just 15 sacks, compared to 24 for Georgia.

For Young, it all starts with his defensive line where defensive tackle Derek Burton, nose tackle Swanson Miller and defensive end Jeremiah Price each started games at different times.

"Obviously, I'd like them to be much better, but I feel like we're improving," Young told O-State Illustrated. "They're working extremely hard and doing everything we're asking of them. We will improve as time goes by."

Still, Georgia could have some surprises of its own.

While OSU coaches will certainly have an idea of the Bulldogs' offensive tendencies, the fact that Georgia will unveil a healthy crop of offensive newcomers with little or no film is something Richt hopes could work to his team's advantage.

"I'm sure they're sitting there thinking, wondering who's going to be where and who's going to make plays, who we are going to put in position to make plays," Richt said. "The only person they know of for sure is AJ (Green). Everybody else they're probably guessing a little bit."

That's a fact Gundy knows all too well.

When Oklahoma State met Georgia in the 2007 opener, the Bulldogs unveiled a redshirt freshman named Knowshon Moreno.

This year, it's sophomore Richard Samuel who gets the start, anxious to make his mark on the national stage.

"We'll try to have an educated guess based on where he's (Young) been and what he's done in the past but the main thing we've got to do is not base everything we do on what we might think," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. "We're going to run our offense we think will give us the best chance to get the ball in the hands of players who have a chance to be successful. We want to be able to execute against all the looks."

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