One of the most common refrains in preseason examinations of the 2009 Dogs has been that former backup quarterback Joe Cox doesn’t have to try and win games himself now that he’s the starter, he just has to “manage” the games successfully.
Cox, to his credit, isn’t just looking to get by. He tells Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald that he’s set a personal goal of completing 70 percent of his passes this season. He admits “that’s a high goal,” but notes that “everything else comes with completions. I don’t worry about yards or touchdowns or anything like that. All of that stuff will come if you’re completing passes.”
It’s a formidable challenge, as Weiszer notes. The last time Cox played extensively — his senior season in high school — he completed 66.1 percent of his passes, and last season in Division 1-A, only the big guns of the Big 12 completed more than 70 percent: Colt McCoy of Texas (76.7 percent), Chase Daniel of Missouri (72.9) and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech (70.6).
Georgia’s Matthew Stafford completed 61.3 percent last season and ranks fourth in the UGA record books in that category. The all-time Georgia leader is Mike Bobo, Cox’s offensive coordinator, who completed 65.03 percent of his passes in the 1997 season. Eric Zeier is next with 63.29 percent in 1993 and sometime quarterback Hines Ward had 61.61 percent in 1995. Fran Tarkenton is behind Stafford with 60.78 percent in 1959.
What will it take for Cox to come close to his goal? Well, success with the running game would help since it would mean Georgia could play more of a ball-control offense and that would mean fewer desperation passes on Cox’s part. A big factor also will be how his receivers play; we’re all hoping that rash of dropped passes in the G-Day game was not an indication of things to come.
Whether Cox makes his goal or not doesn’t really matter, of course. If he completes only half his passes and Georgia wins, we’ll all be happy. But it’s good to see him challenging himself. The last thing the Dogs need this season is a tentative quarterback.