Young Dawgs get chance tonight

ATHENS – As many as 20 freshmen, including seven true freshmen, may play for Georgia today when the 2007 season begins against Oklahoma State.

At just before 7 p.m. today, they all will lose their mind at least for a moment, predicts Bulldog junior Jeff Owens.

"Your adrenaline is running so hard, you hear the crowd and you just don't focus," saidOwens, who played on the defensive line as a true freshman. "You don't focus on your responsibilities on the field."

Georgia's coaching staff is hopeful those mental meltdown won't last long, but they can't be 100 percent sure on a team with so much inexperience.

"We really don't know what's going to happen," Coach Mark Richt said. "We don't know how these guys are going to respond. Some guys might perform on a little bit lower level than they've practice and some guys will probably perform at a lot higher level than they've been practicing. We just don't know who those guys are going to be yet."

The No. 13 Bulldogs play unranked Oklahoma State tonight in a game that will kick off at 6:45 p.m. and be televised by ESPN2. Nine first-time starters - four on offense, four on defenseand punter Brian Mimbs – will be on the field when they do. The youth makes Richt nervous but hopeful for the future.

"I think this team ought to improve greatly over this season because we are playing some inexperienced guys who are very talented and usually they will get better in a hurry," he said. "I do think we'll be vastly improved as time goes on. I hope we're good enough early."

The coaches will be better prepared after today to know which players deserve how much playing time, Richt said. The young players will better prepared after watching themselves on film from a game rather than film from practice, Owens said.

"Game film watching is totally different," Owens said. "You can actually see yourself out there and remember the plays. Practice is the same thing (every day). You're going against the same guy and you pretty much can know what they're going to do."

The Cowboys, who were 7-6 last year in the Big 12, have had this game circled on their calendar all summer, quarterback Bobby Reid said. Oklahoma State already has gotten a boost from simply scheduling Georgia, but the Cowboys could go a lot further with the win, Coach Mike Gundy said.

"I don't think there's any question that for us to go down there and win would be huge for this football team and this program and this university," he said. "At times, you have to be careful about putting all your chips down. From that standpoint, you still do have to play 11 games, but we're excited to come down and play Georgia."

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