Robert Allen's Cowboy Football Report

On Mondays during the season, Executive Editor Robert Allen will offer up a variety of thoughts and opinions leading up to that week's game.

I'm not saying it didn't deserve to be reported but on the day a columnist was asking OSU head coach Mike Gundy if he missed the media during the past 10 days when Gundy closed off access to his team and on the day after The Oklahoman special football section titled "Oklahoma Idol" featured a comment from reporter Jenni Carlson (aka Paula Abdul) that Cowboy quarterback Zac Robinson has "dreamy eyes," the paper's Web site had a stop the presses exclusive that Perrish Cox was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

I'm not saying Perrish shouldn't have done it but this is hardly a major crime. It happens to people all across Oklahoma, across America, hundreds of times a day.

After practice, Gundy was asked about it. Reporters from The Oklahoman and The O'Collegian looked poised for a huge response.

"Like I've said before things like that we handle internally," said Gundy. "Is that it? Boy that was easy."

Gundy headed off toward the west end zone.

We expect Cox to play and, in fact if he didn't, would want an explanation as to why one of the better defenders on the team is missing one of the most important games in school history because of a traffic violation.

If Gundy and his staff want to punish Cox with extra work after practice, fine. We applaud all of Gundy's measures to keep players in line and discipline as a stalwart in the program. I appreciated it as a parent, but please, please let Perrish play. I'm being sarcastic here. If you are panicked, please read the previous sentence to this one again.

Also, to be fair, The Oklahoman did report all the traffic arrests in Norman during the spring and summer involving OU players, so you can't say they aren't treating the two schools the same.

I think you have to rate things as pretty good when one of the most earth shattering stories to come out of the first head coach's news conference is the naming of a backup quarterback.

However, it is, after all, a story two years in the making. Neither junior Alex Cate or 26-year-old sophomore Brandon Weeden have had many game snaps, but Gundy told the quarterbacks last week and the media Monday that Cate is finally, officially the back up to Zac Robinson.

"Alex Cate is our backup quarterback," said Gundy matter of factly during Monday's press conference. "He had performed better, not by much, but had shown signs that if we needed to use a backup quarterback he was more prepared than the other (quarterback)."

"He let me know last week," said Cate. "He just pulled me into the office and said if anything happens to Zac or anything then you'll be the guy to go in. He said Weeden was still going to get reps (in practice) and we were still going to compete. It was still a competition but for now I was the backup. I think knowing what to do with the ball helped me (win the backup role)."

The 6-1, 195-pound Cate is actually pretty close in stature to Georgia's fifth-year senior starting quarterback Joe Cox. They even resemble each other a little. Cate said he did not celebrate the announcement, just relaxed a little more in practice and ate a healthy training table meal that night. He did say his relationship is still strong with Weeden as the two players get along and have throughout the competition phase of deciding the back-up.

"No, not at all," said Cate of it changing his relationship with Weeden. "We still talk all the time and help each other out. It does help that both of us are old."

I'll tell you why, I think OSU's special teams may strike a blow toward victory. I am not discounting special teams for Georgia. They split their staff up to handle different special teams units. Oklahoma State has one of the best in Joe DeForest. Last season Cowboys special teams demolished an out-manned Washington State team.

I just have a feeling that the Cowboys will hit a "home run" on Saturday. DeForest wasn't letting on anything Monday, but the aforementioned Perrish Cox was thinking big.

"Every season I get thousands of predictions and my teammates and I talk about it every day," said Cox about returning a kick for a touchdown as he has done four times in his career, and twice in season opening games. "It all start with them (teammates blocking). If they do their job, of course, we're going to do our job on the back end. We all work together as one in the whole return thing.

"A big return can set a game right for our offense and our defense. If I can go have a big return the intensity of our whole team goes up."

Cox will return kickoffs along with Dez Bryant and Victor Johnson. Bryant will return punts with Cox backing him up. Remember, Bryant averaged a touchdown for every six times he touched the ball last season.

One thing you might see is Georgia kick it out of bounds and give up field position, especially on punts. Every yard counts in a game like this. Special teams is by no means the only reason to feel good, but it is a good reason.

Georgia's offensive line and they are a big reason. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels is a good one. His line, according to Georgia's roster, averages 6-4 2/5 and 303.4 pounds. They are young with two juniors, two sophomores, and a redshirt sophomore.

Left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, center Ben Jones, and right guard Cordy Glenn are really good. This will be as good an offensive line as the Cowboys see all season and they have to find a way to at least stalemate with the Bulldog blockers. I am anxious to see what defensive coordinator Bill Young has in mind to counter a much larger and very stout offensive front.

The Cowboys can neither allow Georgia to control the game by running the football or let Joe Cox have unlimited time to look for receivers. It is huge to keep Georgia from having the sizeable advantage at the point of attack when they are on offense.


Young said that his real defensive philosophy is simple, "try to keep the other team from scoring." Young has been very humble and shares the spotlight of improving the Cowboy defense with his defensive staff. Young coaches the defensive line and feel good about them but the back end of the defense may be the heavy end of the defense going into this season.

"I don't think there is any question that the linebackers are going to be the strong part of our defense," said Young. "Coach DeForest and Coach Jones are doing a tremendous job with the safeties and corners. There is some experience back there and guys that have a lot of talent. I'm really optimistic about what they can accomplish. We are counting on Perrish Cox to shut down part of the field. He is a talented guy and he has to play up to his potential."

Brewer says he has more receivers other than Dez Bryant, but he really likes when the ball gets thrown to Dez and the big wide receiver makes the catch and goes "freaky" with the ball in his hands. There is Kendall Hunter, quarterback Zac Robinson and all of the other returning players on offense, but Brewer will tell you each season is different.

"It is hard to compare to last year's group because each one has its own personality, but I think we are balanced as we've ever been," said Brewer amazingly as the Cowboys averaged 243.2 yards per game rushing and passing in the 2007 season.

"We developed a couple of other receivers and I know that is a big question for everybody. We think Justin Blackmon, DeMarcus Conner, and, I'll tell you, Josh Cooper has had a really good camp. He has been healthy and let's keep everybody praying he stays that way. We have several others in Tracy Moore and Dameron Fooks are some kids that will see some role time. Hubert Anyiam I thought had a good camp too.

"Those guys are big keys if they double- and triple-team Dez. Obviously we've got the running game with Zac (Robinson) and the other bevy of running backs that we have. I'm hoping we are just picking up where we left off last year."

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