ATHENS — There are enough things that Georgia coach Mark Richt is being criticized for these days. So I figured this would be a good time to tell you something he is doing right: sticking with Joe Cox at quarterback.
What’s important to remember here is that this is college, not the NFL (even if the line between the two is somewhat blurred in the SEC). It’s common for pro teams in any sport to start playing younger athletes late in wasted seasons to prepare for next season.
Sorry. It’s different on a campus. And it should be.
It’s different when you have senior players who may never step on a football field again after this season. If Richt started a freshman quarterback, believing he’s not ready but ostensibly to get him ready for next season, the coach basically would be telling his players, “We really don’t care about these last few games.”
Richt did a better job articulating this at his weekly news conference Tuesday than I could. When the subject of sticking with Cox and keeping the redshirt on freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger was broached, he reiterated that Cox “gives Georgia the best chance to win now,” and that nobody else has earned that spot.
Then when asked about the mindset of playing a freshman for the potential benefit of next season, he said: “I can’t do that. I can’t do that to our seniors. I can’t do that. We tell our guys to finish the drill. We tell our guys to never quit. And if we made that move with a young guy, then I’d have the confidence to say in all honesty that he gives us the best chance to win. And because we couldn’t come to that conclusion, we went with the guy who gives us the best chance to win right now. If we said, ‘Hey we’re playing for next year,’ then in my mind we’d be giving up on the season. We’d quit. We don’t quit at Georgia. We don’t teach our guys to quit.”
Now, this shouldn’t be taken as a statement that Cox is great. Logic says backup Logan Gray will get increased playing time Saturday against Tennessee Tech and the rest of the season. But this isn’t the time to tell a freshman, “Rescue us.”