It's about that time. The tailgate menu is in order. The tent is clean and packed. You may have even decided between the red golfshirt and the white one. It's time for you to know the 5 things you'll see on Saturday, my armchair prediction of the game to come. Many of these will be integral to the outcome of the contest. Others are just random observations which will give me even more opportunities to be flat wrong on any given Wednesday. But the five things you'll see on Saturday are . . .
1) Brandon Coutu. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. We've got other weapons, but they're largely unproven, and offenses are almost always shaky to start the season. Coutu's leg + young offense = field goal opportunities. I'm betting he kicks two. With the forecast calling for potential evening showers in Athens, the little man with the big leg could be key.
2) Oklahoma State turnovers. While the major playmakers from 2006 are back for the Cowboys, even the best spread offenses take some time to gel under live fire. Just ask Jared Zabransky. Look for the 'pokes to turn it over at least 3 times. The question for us will be the turnover ratio. If we have more than a couple, or they come in bad times and bad places, things will get way more interesting than we want them to be.
3) Reshad Jones. Oklahoma State will air it out early and often. Kelin Johnson is a senior leader, but Jones' size and closing speed could be a valuable asset over the top. Look for him to get into the game from the second quarter on, once Coach Martinez has a better feel for the OK State schemes. The runner up for this slot, for what it's worth, was Dannell Ellerbe, who I think will use his speed to force at least one turnover, a la Boise State 2005. No evidence whatsoever to support this one mind you, just a gut feeling.
4) Miscommunication. The guess from most commentators is that Mike Bobo will employ more motion, more reads and more wrinkles than we've seen from Mark Richt's offense recently. And that means some "what the . . .?" moments as receivers fail to break off routes, motion men don't get set before the snap, and Matt Stafford howitzers balls to places where receivers should be, but ain't. This will likely lead to #1 above, by the way.
5) UGA 27 OK St. 17. That's my prediction for the final score. I wouldn't be surprised to see the exact opposite, with the team from that other land thievin' school beating Georgia by 10. That's really the story of this entire season for me. While I don't see a team on the schedule we can't beat, I don't see a lot we couldn't lose to, either. We could be favored in as many as 10 games this year depending on how the season progresses. But that includes oh-so-losable games against South Carolina, at Alabama, at Tennessee, home versus Kentucky, at the Cocktail Party, and against the Kenny Irons College for Midget Packers.
On a related note, tomorrow I will be continuing a tradition begun over at my original blogging home, MaconDawg's Blawg. It is the return of Cocktail Thursday. Kyle is of course the one who can help you feast on the flesh of the enemy. My contribution to your tailgate is a themed libation and a potshot at the University's President. What could be better than that? And as was the case at MaconDawg's Blawg, if you can email actual photographic evidence of yourself or your friends consuming the week's cocktail, I just might post it the following week. Until tomorrow . . .