Why a senior QB plays like a freshman

It isn't Joe Cox's fault he's a senior who plays like a freshman. (Associated Press)

It isn't Joe Cox's fault he's a senior who plays like a freshman. (Associated Press)

Joe Cox isn’t the main problem with the Georgia offense.

That would be the running game. Between injuries to Caleb King, the inexperience of the other backs and the generally poor run-blocking of the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks, the Dogs have become a one-dimensional team. Tennessee was able to sit back in a zone defense designed to guard against any long passes without having to worry about the run.

Mike Bobo’s predictable play-calling doesn’t help matters, either.

But Cox also has hurt the team’s chances with the kind of poor decision-making you generally don’t associate with a fifth-year senior.

Just in last Saturday’s game against Tennessee, he threw another interception after a botched snap — the latest of a number of passes that shouldn’t ever have been thrown. He didn’t check out of screen plays where Tennessee was sending a safety blitz. He threw the ball to heavily covered receivers rather than dumping it off to a back or secondary receiver.

And then there was that embarrassing play at the end of the first half, where Cox decided to spike the ball with only 1 second left on the clock. He subsequently said that he thought there was 3 seconds on the clock and that he could get a spike in with a second left so that Georgia could attempt a field goal. That’s what the signals from the apparently clueless coaches on the sideline were telling him to do.

If he had been aware there was only 1 second left, he would have known there wasn’t time to spike the ball and he could have at least taken a shot at the end zone. But he never checked the clock. A classic rookie mistake.

I bring this up because I think the lack of playing time Cox received during his three seasons as Matthew Stafford’s backup is probably responsible for lapses like that. The blame should fall on Mark Richt and Bobo. They didn’t make getting Cox meaningful snaps in a game a priority while they had Stafford.

And they’re making the same mistake again this season.

Cox will be gone next year. Behind him are an inexperienced redshirt sophomore, Logan Gray, whose development has been stunted by too much time spent on special teams, and two totally inexperienced true freshmen, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.

For various reasons, including practice time Murray lost to a shoulder problem, Richt and Bobo have decided to redshirt the freshmen, barring an injury to one of the other quarterbacks.

But at the same time they haven’t developed Gray. Other than the two series he ran late in the Tennessee game, his playing time at QB had been limited this season to a handful of times when he was brought in for a single option play that everyone knew he was going to run and which ended up predictably unsuccessful.

Bobo acknowledged to Bulldogs Blog that Gray is ready for more playing time at quarterback. “Logan’s done a nice job,” the offensive coordinator said. “He’s done an extremely good job getting better as a quarterback. I think he’s ready if he gets into the game. Obviously if we continue to struggle, he could be something that could spark our offense.”

But Richt continues spouting the same line he’s had about Gray all season when asked if he’s going to get into the game more. “I wouldn’t say that’s out of the question,” he said Tuesday at his weekly media briefing. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the idea.

Apparently, unless your father is threatening to transfer you elsewhere, as was the case when D.J. Shockley was backing up David Greene, Richt is loathe to provide guaranteed, scripted playing time for his backup quarterback.

We’re seeing in Cox this season the results of that.

And the way they’re treating Gray doesn’t bode well for next season, either.

152 comments Add your comment

Winterville NC Dawg

October 14th, 2009
1:40 pm

L-Dawg

October 14th, 2009
1:43 pm

GLORY GLORY TO OLE’ GEORGIA!!

WHAT DO TECH FANS AND UGA FANS HAVE IN COMMON?? THEY BOTH ARE OBSESSED WITH THE DAWGS!!!!

GO DAWGS!!!

I WILL SUPPORT MY TEAM THROUGH THICK AND THIN, AND SUPPORT MY COACHES AS LONG AS THEY ARE MY COACHES!!!

McDawg

October 14th, 2009
1:45 pm

Scootergate continues-can the ombudsman at the AJC address the way they cover this issues-”emerging from an alley” can we have a little context before plastering it all over the place

to pay or not to pay $24.99 for the Vanderbilt game?

i’ll be fired up by Saturday

navydawg

October 14th, 2009
1:47 pm

I personally would like to see Zach or Aaron in there! I think we need to give these guys some experience. I see Zach leaving if Aaron is going to be CMR’s choice because he won’t get playing time. Zach has got the build and arm to be an outstanding quarterback at this level and the next. The guy is a beast!!!

RxDawg

October 14th, 2009
1:47 pm

Because our O-line doesn’t block. It doesn’t matter which QB we put back there. Richt said it himself, if we elevate the play of everyone around Cox, his game will elevate as well.

The only knock I have on him is that he does seem to stare down receivers.

Sam

October 14th, 2009
1:49 pm

Other big time schools are willing to play freshmen QBs. What is the difference? Murray and Mettenberger were highly ranked QBs, but apparently the coaches have not developed them well while USC and Michigan gave the keys to true freshmen. Richt/Bobo did the same with Stafford and wasted a couple of games.

I might be in the minority, but I can stand losing with the freshmen over losing with seniors.

Also, what happened to the line? What should have been a strength has been awful. While calling for Bobo’s head is one thing, Searels also needs to be held accountable or the players need to be sitting on the bench.

Recruiting 101

October 14th, 2009
1:49 pm

Hey Tach fans… you are on the wrong blog again.

CHALLENGE— One, just ONE Tech fan give a GOOD reason as to why you are on this blog?? Jealousy or Envy would be an acceptible answer.

AWFUL

October 14th, 2009
1:50 pm

Very true and informative article. If SoCal can play a true frosh so can we? Well…we should be able to but we won’t b/c of loyalty to the senior. Are we seeing the Terenshinski all over again?

mark

October 14th, 2009
1:50 pm

I agree with you on this issue. It certainly looks like poor decision making by Richt. Look at Urban Meyer a couple of years ago using Tebow to spell Leak during a championship year. Next year isn’t shaping up too well at the quarterback position.

jeff

October 14th, 2009
1:54 pm

has there ever been a more overhyped bust than caleb king. he was supposed to be the next reggie bush and he’s always hurt or just plain old underwhelming.

TCDAWG

October 14th, 2009
1:55 pm

It may not be the person calling the play but, rather the design of the play, of how it is drawn up and the way our offense is ask to run the play. If the play is not designed properly, it will not get the results necessary for the play to be secessfull.I guess we may not know all we need to know to make a determination of sucess or failure of why a play did not work.

SOUTHGADAWG88

October 14th, 2009
1:56 pm

Thing is.. if we play the freshman or Gray and lose the critics will still complain.

ugaaccountant

October 14th, 2009
1:56 pm

One issue Richt should address is figuring out why his players don’t ever seem to have a valid driver’s license. The offenses are usually incredibly petty, and almost always involve a scooter instead of an actual vehicle. However, it would save alot of muck-raking by the AJC if they would just ask their players to actually follow the law and obtain a driver’s license.

ugaaccountant

October 14th, 2009
1:57 pm

No southgadawg88, a few of the critics will complain. The vast majority of dawg fans are reasonable and want the best for the team. A small minority of fans and non-fans just pretending to be fans cause all the problems.

Old School Gator

October 14th, 2009
1:58 pm

I can’t believe that it has taken you GA Rednecks all this time to finaly realize what we Gators have known for years. GA Dawgs just plain suck!

gg

October 14th, 2009
1:59 pm

I’ve been told not to say anything if you can’t say something good. I think that’s very good advice. So: We have a very good punter. He’s getting a lot of good experience. We have a very good place kicker, too.

That’s it!

navydawg

October 14th, 2009
2:01 pm

I agree with ya SOUTHGADAWG88! I think us as fans would truly like to see something different vs. what we’ve seen already this year! At this point, puting a freshmen QB in the game could very well give us an idea of what to look forward to, regardless of the outcome. IMO

WTF

October 14th, 2009
2:06 pm

Hey Jeff, who overhyped Caleb – the recruiting services who make money on “ranking” high school players, the media, the fans? A good measure of a recruiting class is 2 to 3 years later. Anyway, I’m sure he is giving his best, but the SEC is a lot different than being a super star in high school. We alwasy seem to do better when we don’t have super stars and develop good recruits into All-Americans. Dooley was great at that and it sure helped develop teamwork.

No Horse in the Race

October 14th, 2009
2:08 pm

Georgia has always been more lucky than they’ve been good, which in turn has caused all your loud mouth fans to think you’re good and “deserve to win” because you have “all that talent”. Half that talent comes from Bugtussle and Hooterville and doesn’t seem to be what was hyped in the recruitment press. There’s no real history of Georgia football outside of this region other than that one year you got lucky and won the national championship. One time.

So get out your cryin’ towels, you’re gonna need ‘em.

Bryan G.

October 14th, 2009
2:08 pm

Jeff:

Brandon Miller and Mudcat Elmore would like to speak with you.

Shananeeeeeee Fananeeeeeeeeeee

October 14th, 2009
2:10 pm

Stafford should still be there Dawg fans. He was just greedy and not a team player like Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes who could have gone into the draft last year but wanted to go undefeated and win another National Title. Now you have Cox who has not played much in his previous 3 years so his experience is lacking. Gators – 5 Games = 2 Touchdowns Allowed, 32 Points Surrendered.

Topp Dogg

October 14th, 2009
2:11 pm

If CMR has two bad or subpar seasons his head will be on the block. He might consider this before going into next season with a QB with little to no experience.

TBOMACHINE

October 14th, 2009
2:12 pm

to old school gator: thats why the dawgs still lead the series against the gaytors.

WSPdawg

October 14th, 2009
2:13 pm

Old School Gator: Just how old school are you? We can reflect on some not so good years for your program as well………..just sayin.

SOUTHGADAWG88

October 14th, 2009
2:14 pm

I just want to know what the hell happened to the OL!!!Boiling,Vance and Davis have been playing 3 years now.Jone is a second year starter…there is no excuse for this mess.Even if Stafford and Moreno covered for them a lot in 08…they’ve had a whole year to get better and are frankly terrible this year..I have no idea what happened here….anybody?

Charlotte Dawg

October 14th, 2009
2:17 pm

Old school gator….shut up!! We don’t go on your sites and make comments. Typical of UF fans, a bunch of blow hards!! I think there are more Rednecks in central florida than the entire state of Ga. Chomp on this…………

Tech Fan

October 14th, 2009
2:18 pm

As long as other ex-coaches have influence over the UGA Football program. Georgia will have a lots of seasons like they’re having this year. Mike Bobo was Dooleys Boy. It’s not the like of talent on the field. It’s the coaching. Ya’ll better get prepared for this ass kicking, we’re going to put of ya’ll

spuga

October 14th, 2009
2:18 pm

why are we criticizing CMR for not giving undeveloped talent playing time as a backup. USC, UF, UT(austin) continually crak out QB’s who arent giving playing time as back up’s but are tremendously successful as 1st year starters. We should be examining UGA’s coaches and how they run practices. Last year we blamed it on “not tackling to the ground” this year we are blaming execution and Joe Cox. This is Logan Gray’s 3rd year. If he’s not ready, I would pose the question, what has he been doing the last 2 years?

Bobby Houseman

October 14th, 2009
2:18 pm

I agree with Sam about playing a freshman at QB. What have we got to lose? This season is a bust and allowing a younger QB to play now will help to develop future leadership at that position. But, Richt is stubborn on this issue and always has been.

Villa Rica DAWG

October 14th, 2009
2:18 pm

Very well said!

Dillan Hatcher

October 14th, 2009
2:18 pm

Okay….. We lost a game we shoulda won. The defense gives up an average of 30 points a game and the offense has a few sparks every now and then. Joe Cox is a 5th year senior who plays like he has never played the game before. The way Cox is playing, i dont see how he was 31-0 as a starting QB in high school. He had a chance, now its time to move on and give Logan Gray or Aaron Murray a chance to take some snaps and get us back on track. Richt shouldn’t have watched Martinez and Bobo’s back last year and let them have one more chance to fix their mistakes. They need to be relieved of their duties immediately so we can start winning some ball games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dekalbdawg

October 14th, 2009
2:29 pm

Its Defintley time to go in a New Direction not only at QB but the entire Offense and Defense! CMR must make changes to not only invigorate the fans but also the players! We may not even make a Bowl Game if things continue going the way they are! and thats unacceptable at UGA.

Old School Gator

October 14th, 2009
2:29 pm

Charlotte, you would if you could read and write. Two crystal footballs in three years, i rest my case. I do have to admit, I was rooting for you all last weekend against TN. The one time I wanted you all to win and you could’nt even do that. Oh well, as my fellow GA coworkers always say “Wait until next year”. That could be the schools new motto!

John

October 14th, 2009
2:30 pm

Thirty Third! See how lame this is? It isn’t any cooler when you write, “First”

Mikey

October 14th, 2009
2:30 pm

Bobo was not Dooley’s boy. He played for Donnan.

clark co. SCOOTER club

October 14th, 2009
2:30 pm

Recruiting 101 ……
I like to see JAWGE fans in complete and total misery!!!!

Georgia Fan

October 14th, 2009
2:32 pm

The true problem at Georgia is not running a program that provides for continuity at the QB and other key positions. Here we are again playing a 5th Year senior for one season with not enough reps to provide the backup QB or the future QB the opportunity to gain the needed experience at this level. I am sure there are details we are not aware of, but from the games I have seen, the PROGRAM is looking a little weak!

uuughh...

October 14th, 2009
2:32 pm

The way I see it, there are two reasons Cox didn’t get many snaps before this year. First, Mark Richt is waaaay to nice. The precious few chances we had over the last few years to blow someone out, he decides to shut’er down instead of scoring enough to get other guys some experience (ASU last year for example). Next, our defense has been terrible for 3 years. Even when our offense was scoring enough points to win, our defense is giving up points like its candy on Halloween…requiring the starters to stay out and get more points for a win. Now with Richt sticking with Cox, we will find ourselves in the exact same situation next year, which with Martinez back will be even worse than this year.

Is it me or does it seem like Richt only thinks about the right now? Building a program takes foresight. WHy woulf they redshirt both of those freshman QB’s? If we don’t care enough about Logan Gray to keep him off of the Punt Return Squad, lets get Murray in there for a few snaps this season. By next season he will be ready to contribute…then when his eligibilty is up Mettenberger will have a year left to play.

What do I know though…I have never been in the “Arena.”

Herschel Talker

October 14th, 2009
2:33 pm

We need far fewer fans like that idiot home L-Dawg. What a putz.

Ed

October 14th, 2009
2:34 pm

Old School Gator, if you are truly old school, then you should know that your beloved Gators invented sucking. 1932-1991 without a conference championship. Not national championship, CONFERENCE championship. Not even a co-championship in the days when you only played 6 conference games and there was no SECC. 59 freaking years. That’s a legacy of sucking that 19 years of success can’t erase.

Mikey

October 14th, 2009
2:35 pm

Reality: Cox gives us a better chance to win than Grey.How many teams can anyone name that have their backup QB on special teams?
True that he only is inserted in fair catch situations but the point is he should not be out there at all.

Having said that, with our D is playing , we should go ahead and play the true freshmen so they will have some experience before next season.
I agree with the other comments about Michigan and USC.They seem to be doing ok with their freshmen QB’s…

Alpharetta Dog Fan

October 14th, 2009
2:36 pm

The frustrating thing is “here we go again”
- lack of proper playing time preparing the next QB
- lack of action on Martinez. How can you call making the decision to fire Martinez a “rash decision”. Have you watched the last 15 or so games?
- And if I know that on first and ten we are going to call a running play up the middle, you think maybe the opponent does to? You wouldn’t have to pay me nearly the amount Bobo makes to call that plan on each first down.

Old School Gator

October 14th, 2009
2:37 pm

If my name was Edward, I would spell it Ed too. Sorry guy!

McDawg

October 14th, 2009
2:38 pm

have you seen a D-end or a pass rush in the past two years?

JB

October 14th, 2009
2:39 pm

This staff is sleep walking !

Bobby Houseman

October 14th, 2009
2:42 pm

Why respond to bloggers like Old School Gator? Unless you’re a Dawg fan, your opinions don’t matter.

Phil

October 14th, 2009
2:44 pm

From what I have seen of Logan Gray, at playing the QB position that is,
he is no improvement over Cox. We aren’t going to be any better next year at the position. May have to go with Murray from the get go next season. We threw Stafford in there as a freshman, may have to do it again.

JB

October 14th, 2009
2:44 pm

‘No horse in the race ” does not want to tell us what pom poms he shakes, but my guess they’re gold and white. How many ACC titles does Tech Have……………………….I hear a sucking sound.

GaCracker

October 14th, 2009
2:46 pm

Other than A.J. Green, the Dawgs best players are their field goal kicker and punter. Sad!

JB

October 14th, 2009
2:48 pm

12 games of Gray next year =6-6. Not much better with Murray, but get him ready for Soph year. Maybe we can recruit a 4.3 wildcat type who can also pass for a package. Gray ain’t it. And how about a TE in the mix who can catch. Richt has put 3 into the NFL and I haven’t noticed one this year.