Five Things We Know:
- Knows the playbook as well as any quarterback we have had or will have.
- Has an accurate arm, though not nearly the rifle of Stafford.
- Is well-respected by his teammates.
- Has the most experienced OL we have had in years.
- Knows this is his last year of football and has paid his dues.
- How well he will read defenses prior to the snap.
- How well he will react to the speed of the game after the snap.
- Will he be able to stretch defenses by connecting on a few long-ish balls to Green or King?
- How well he will be able to elude the rush or tuck the ball and run.
- How will he respond to adversity within a game?
Though he doesn't have the arm strength of Stafford, I hope that his awareness of this will keep him from trying to force balls into coverage - which plagued Stafford at times. From Cox, I will be content to see lots of short, high-percentage passes to playmakers who can do something once they get the ball in their hands. In other words, not all 40+ yard pass plays need result from balls traveling this distance purely through the air. (For examples, see Montana, Joe - Rice, Jerry.) When Mike Bobo replaced Eric Zeier, the offensive passing scheme was designed around his strength, which was quick-hitting short routes. In 1997, this strategy allowed Bobo to complete 65% of his passes for 2751 yards and an efficiency rating of 155.8. Against Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl, Bobo was an amazing 26 of 28 for 267 yards. Physically, I see no reason that Cox's arm could not be deployed in a similar fashion and I am hopeful that Cox will enjoy similar success with his talented corps of receivers - Green, King, Moore, Brown, White, Charles and Chapas and probably Carlton Thomas.
I have no idea if he will have the knack to evade rushers like Stafford did. Nor do I know if Cox could have success on designed runs - which was hit and miss with Stafford. But, we know that Logan Gray is a QB we will use on occasion to run draws and other dual-threat packages. So, I don't expect much running from Cox and will be pleasantly surprised if he breaks off a few decent runs in the first few games.
As far as adversity goes, Cox came in and saved our hides against Colorado in 1996 by throwing two TDs in the fourth quarter. But, he came off the bench in that situation. We will have to see how he responds when something goes awry in a game in which he has all of the responsibility from start to finish. I believe that his maturity and leadership ability will help him to remain calm and composed during times of adversity, but this remains to be seen until he is in the fire. If we are fortunate, he will be like the coolest customer we ever had under center - David Greene.
We don't need Joe Cox to be a hero. We only need him to be steady and to avoid crucial mistakes. I think the fact that he will have a talented, veteran offensive line in front of him will be a huge advantage that recent UGA QBs have not had and may make all the difference for Joe.
Here is something to consider... in 2001, freshman starter David Greene threw 27 times per game; in 2005, first year starter - senior DJ Shockley threw 28 times per game; and in 2006, our QBs (Stafford, Tereshinki and Cox) threw 26 times per game. I suppose we can assume that our QBs will throw the ball at least 25 times per game. This won't be like GT and Josh Nesbitt. We will be throwing the ball. It will be imperative that our QBs can get the ball in our receivers hands. Richt's offenses thrive when balanced, so passing the ball effectively must happen for us to be successful.
What do you guys look for from Joe this season?
GO JOE, GATA!