Mark Richt isn't giving away any scoop on who might handle the kickoff duties at Oklahoma State – sophomore Blair Walsh or JuCo transfer Brandon Bogotay – but he definitely sounds like he's gained a lot more confidence in the incumbent since the preseason began.
"I see a lot different focus from Blair," Richt said. "I think the competition of Bogotay coming in has really helped that situation. Both of those guys are really capable."
The competition has certainly kept both players sharp, but Walsh said it's not necessarily Bogotay's presence that has spurred him on to greater heights.
"I'm not the type of person who lays back when he has a job, but competition pushes everybody," Walsh said. "It's not just about bringing guys in so you have somebody pushing you the entire time. You've got to do what you've got to do and just working hard for me has been the key."
Whether the Bulldogs choose to kick to the corner or boot it deep, however, Walsh said he's aware that Oklahoma State presents a significant problem. Kick returner Perrish Cox is closing in on the Big 12 record for return yards, and his 895 return yards and two touchdowns made him one of the top threats in the country.
"We know what we're up against," Walsh said. "We know the guy is very good, and we've got to be on top of our game."
Walsh plans to be on top of his game, too. Regardless of which kicker is handling kickoffs, Walsh said he has something to prove, starting with Saturday's contest against the Cowboys.
"I've been working hard and I have something to prove to everybody to show that I can do what's asked of me and that I'm the guy for the job," Walsh said.
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
Oklahoma State's defense took a good bit of criticism a year ago after being embarrassed against rivals Texas Tech and Oklahoma and finishing 93rd in the nation in total defense.
That might be some encouraging information for Georgia, but with new defensive coordinator Bill Young now at the helm for the Cowboys, there's a bit of mystery as to just how good the unit might be.
"You look at where he's been, and if it's consistent, then schematically you know this is probably what he likes to do," Richt said. "But then as you're studying his scheme, you're not studying his personnel. If you're studying Oklahoma State's personnel, it's in a system that they're probably not going to be running. Coaches don't like the unknown, and we don't know for sure what's going to happen."
That makes the task of preparing for Oklahoma State a bit more of a challenge than normal.
The plan, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, is simply to watch the Cowboys' personnel and study Young's past work, then hope to come up with a few options that look like they have a chance to be successful. The bottom line, however, is for Georgia's offense to be good at what they do best.
"You've got rules for your plays and blocking assignments and routes for different coverages," Bobo said. "So what we can execute and what we feel gives us the best chance to win against any kind of package is what we'll go into the game with."