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May 18, 2009
ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia quarterback Joe Cox knows the comparisons to Matthew Stafford will always be there. After all, Cox backed up the Detroit Lions' first-round draft pick for all three of his years here.
Cox also knows many people have already formed their opinions of what will transpire, but the Charlotte, N.C., native isn't worried about that.
"I don't think it [the offense] will change at all," Cox said. "We still have the same type of guys and it always hurts when you lose two superstars [Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno] and another one in [wide receiver] Mohamed [Massaquoi], but the good thing about football is once somebody leaves somebody has to step up, and we've got plenty at every position.
"I think it's going to help not being preseason No. 1. We've got to earn everything we get this year, and I think that's going to bring everybody together and hopefully get everybody on the right track."
Stafford said he is confident that Cox can get the job done.
"I think if I would have gone down with an injury this year that he could have stepped in and done an outstanding job," Stafford said. "We see it every day in practice. The guy has a bunch of skill and with guys around him he can get them the ball. He's a real accurate passer, and I think he can run this offense just fine."
For his career, Cox has completed 33 of 58 passes for 432 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. His lone career start came against Ole Miss in 2006, one week after replacing Stafford against Colorado and leading the Bulldogs to a 14-13 victory on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Martrez Milner with 46 seconds left.
When the Bulldogs begin fall practice in August, Cox's name will be firmly ensconced atop the depth chart.
"Someone is going to have to knock Joe out of the box the way I see it right now. Joe absolutely understands our system very well, and he's a very accurate passer," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "He's similar to D.J. Shockley in that even though he wasn't a starter he's one of the leaders of our football team."
Richt isn't forgetting about Logan Gray, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall. Gray missed a lot of time working with the quarterbacks last season due to his time on special teams, but with his ability to hurt opponents with his legs as well as his arm, he will get his share of opportunities.
Although he won't start, look for the Bulldogs to design some plays to take advantage of his skills.
His time will come, but not this year. This is Cox's opportunity to shine.
"I think I'm going to be able to bring some fire to everybody. I'm a real rah-rah kind of guy," Cox said. "I've always been that way and that's how I play. If I can just transfer that feeling to a couple of other players then it could spread like wildfire. I've always looked to guys like Brett Favre and how he goes out there acting crazy on the field. That's the guy I want to be when I play."
Stafford gave Cox some words of wisdom.
"I think the No. 1 deal is you've got to have fun with it. There are a lot of media and pressure in situations that can really bog you down and make this situation not as fun, but it's still a lot of fun," Stafford said. "The guys that we have in our program to play quarterback are fully equipped to take over. They'll add their own little twist to Georgia, and I'll be excited to watch them play."