1) Most of UGA messaging universe has heard of Oklahoma State's All-American receiver, Dez Bryant and how incredible the young man is suppose to be at the game of football. Some draft analysis are evening comparing to former Miami Hurricane great Andre Johnson. With that said, I'd encourage every UGA blogger to go and take a look at his stats from last season. (http://oklahomastate.rivals.com/cviewplayer.asp?Player=383448). If nothing else they show me that his praise maybe a little bit blown of out of proportion. Why?
First, it appears that Mr. Bryant did most of his damage last year against subpar competition. While UGA certainly had a down year last year, I guarantee you that the 08 version of our D was probably better than every D Mr. Bryant faced save for Texas and Oklahoma. And last year was a down year for us. This year were more experience, healthier, and more important more motivated than we were a year ago. This year's D is out to prove their an elite D. And proviing that starts with stopping Mr. Bryant.
The second, thing that a review of Mr. Bryant's statistics show me is that 09 defense has faced more dangerous weapons than Mr. Bryant. If you scroll down to Mr. Bryant's statistics against Oklahoma, you'll notice he earned a very respectable 91 yards receiving. However, we all know who else played Oklahoma last year: Those damn Gators. A player of theirs named Percy Harvin had 122 yards rushing and 45 yards receiving against Oklahoma on a bad ankle. While comparing rushing to receiving yards may seem like comparing apples to oranges, the point to be made here is that Percy Harvin if nothing else was a much more dynamic weapon than Mr. Bryant is. He can hurt you out of the back field or over the top. And most of the players suiting for the Bulldogs this year have one or more years experience playing against Percy. After preping for a guy that can hurt any where on the field, stopping a guy whose strickly a threat in the passing game isn't nearly as daunting.
I know what many of the doubters of this post are saying at this point? "Is he serious, stopping an All-American WR isn't that daunting? Tell that to guys who have been given the job of stopping Andrea Johnson 2.0 on a weekly basis." Valid point, but UGA's D is given the task of stopping a much better receiver every day in practice. Perhaps you've heard of him, his name is AJ Green.
While Dez Bryant grabs all the head lines, there's pretty solid evidence that AJ's a better receiver. He was unstoppable last year as a freshman. Don't believe me? Take a look at his stats from last year: http://uga.rivals.com/cviewplayer.asp?Player=401359. Take a good hard look at that Florida line too. He had 91 yards. That's much more impressive than the 91 yards Mr. Bryant complied against Oklahoma. You wanna know why? Because every member of Florida's starting secondary is a projected first round draft pick. That means that AJ Green as an 18 year old with a pulled groin, got 91 yards against a secondary full of NFL football players.
And while AJ and Dez's games are not identical, at very least our cornerbacks and safeties are use to going at it with a very good WR in practice every day. Its the mass practice effect. You play or do something enough times and it becomes easier for you to do.