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.
Five Things We Do Not Know:
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?
I am confident that his knowledge of the offense/playbook will allow him to read defenses and make appropriate checks at the line of scrimmage. However, I think the speed of the game will be challenging at first and will take him a few complete games to become comfortable.
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.
On Sunday, August 23rd, 2009, Andre "Pulpwood" Smith was baptized in the Satilla River near Douglas, GA. The Baptism was performed by Pastor Marty Wilkes of the Crossroads Baptist Church in Douglas. The following photos were taken by Anne Marie Hanna Fussell.
Love the high-five! Way to go Pulpwood. God Bless You buddy!
This time last year, the preseason #1 ranking and related media hype was unraveling upon the news of Trinton Sturdivant's injury. Almost immediately upon learning of the loss of Sturdivant for the season, Mark May celebrated and announced that UGA's 2008 quest for the National Title was done. He would be correct, a rarity, but for a lot more reasons than the injury to our starting left tackle. It was, arguably, more the lack of healthy and productive defensive ends throughout the season that derailed our chances to win the SEC East or more. The Dawgs were quickly bounced from the top two spots in the polls for not beating Georgia Southern by 60 points - and the loss of defensive team leader, Jeff Owens, for the season on the third play of the game. The season of so much promise quickly devolved into the anathema of modern UGA football. Sure we had 10 wins. But the 3 losses were all painful and embarrassing and continue to serve as a reminder of why our love affair with the red and black is equal parts joy, pain and madness.
Now we gear up for another season with a chance to experience euphoric highs, suicidal lows and everything in between. This pre-season our team has not been wreathed with the albatross of a stratospheric ranking and I like it this way!
This season is all upside. While I know we will win at least 10 games - because it's what we do - I honestly enjoy that we are underdogs as we prepare to open on the road in the debut of T. Boone's Shrine against the reportedly unstoppable offensive juggernaut that is Oklahoma State. I love that we are being underestimated. The burden of expectation is light as a result. The reports from the off-season and camp have indicated that this group has galvanized into a "team" with more focus and exponentially less distractions than we had one year ago. While we have the need for players to step up at QB, RB and CB, our trenches are in great shape right now and that reminds me of a wise Naval saying from John Paul Jones... "Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship." In my view, in the rating of a team, look to the trenches. If you have a solid core of big nasty lineman willing to bust ass for little recognition, then your skill players will all look better. In Athens, it is our strength this season with defensive pillars like Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins, Kade Weston, DeAngelo Tyson, Demarcus Dobbs, a healthy Rod Battle and an unsuspended Justin Houston and offensive road pavers like Clint Boling, Trinton Sturdivant, Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn, Bean Anderson, Chris Davis, Tanner Strickland and Vince Vance. There are even more capable back ups that I didn't name. If this was the eighties, Wendy's founder Dave Thomas would not ask "Where's the beef?" when evaluating the 2009 installment of UGA football. We have veterans upon of veterans in the trenches and I like it this way!
We start the season with a "real" game against a highly ranked opponent instead of brave-but-overmatched1-AA (can I still use that?) team or a middling 1-A program with an enigmatic mascot. For whatever reason, our teams have historically had much higher focus and intensity in seasons in which we open with a quality opponent (Clemson, Boise State, Oklahoma State.) A big win early on the national stage is exactly our team needs to set the tone for this season and I like it this way!
We have receivers and tight ends that our opponents have never heard of who will have great seasons by making teams pay for doubling AJ Green. I am talking about Tavares King, Michael Moore, Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten, Israel Troupe, Aron White, Orson Charles, Arthur Lynch and Bruce Figgins (when he returns.) When they don't double team AJ Green, he will make them pay and I like it this way!
As usual, we have a stud fullback to pancake unsuspecting defenders while paving the way for a stable of young capable tailbacks. In addition, Shaun Chapas has the best hands of any fullback we have had since Verron Haynes, and I like it this way!
We have about fiftyleven linebackers with significant game experience - Gamble, Dewberry, Dent, Dowtin and Washington (though he may play end exclusively). Then there is the heart of this team personified wearing #35 tackling everything on the field not carrying pom poms. When you have Rennie Curran, you have a chance of stopping any team... and I like it this way!
So, instead of dwelling on the departures of Stafford, Moreno, Massaquoi and Allen, I prefer to look at the huge upside of returning the tremendous core of veterans that may be the most experienced group on both lines of scrimmage since Dooley danced in red pants. And I like it this way!
After a long, long quiet off-season, bereft of barking on Saturdays, 32 ounce gin and tonics, beautiful coeds by the busload, and 93,000 of my closest friends... I am ready for Continental Airlines and Avis to get my ass out to Stillwater in exactly ten days so I can watch my Dawgs Get After Their Asses in exactly 11 days. And I like it this way!!!