So, Cowboys fans, feeling good about Georgia’s loss of quarterback Matthew Stafford to the NFL? Finding comfort in the fact that his replacement is Joe Cox, a fifth-year, career backup? Don’t get too comfortable. Remember, Mark Sanchez parlayed his one year running the Southern Cal offense into the No. 5 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Closer to home, Texas Tech’s trio of one-year wonders – Cody Hodges, Sonny Cumbie and B.J. Symons – all took turns leading the Big 12 in passing earlier this decade. And there’s D.J. Shockley, who spun his one turn as the Georgia quarterback into the 2005 SEC championship. Could Cox become a similar single-season sensation, with a breakout planned in the season opener against Oklahoma State on Sept. 5 in Stillwater? "I don’t know the critiques he’s being given by the commentators or the scouting reports,” said Bulldogs left tackle Trinton Sturdivant, "but when we look at him, we look at a ball player. "And when we look at him, we’re ready to play.” OK, so Cox is not Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in last spring’s NFL Draft. And at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, he’s not particularly imposing. Neither are Cox’s career stats: 58 pass attempts, 33 completions, 432 yards, five touchdowns. In the Big 12, that’s a good day. Still, it may be dangerous to assume a significant dropoff from Stafford to Cox. "I don’t know about a huge dropoff, but it’s going to be hard to fill those shoes,” said Cowboys linebacker Patrick Lavine, almost salivating at the thought. "There’s a good reason Stafford was the No. 1 pick in the draft. "I still consider (Cox) a rookie quarterback. There’s nothing like starting off behind center. It’s a totally new experience. I’m glad. I’m ready.” Cox can claim one career start, a win over Ole Miss, although that was three years ago as a redshirt freshman. His greatest moments as a Bulldog also came that year, when he stepped off the bench to lead a 14-13 rally past Colorado, throwing two late touchdown passes. Otherwise, he’s handled mostly mop-up duty behind Stafford. From that, however, there’s also something the Dawgs are drawing from. In last season’s lopsided loss to Florida, with Georgia trailing by 46 points, Cox was thrown into the fray late. Rather than simply run out the clock, he implored the offense to march to a score. It did, with Cox firing a 19-yard scoring pass. A blip in a blowout, yes, yet typical of the kind of moments that has endeared Cox to his teammates. At the end of spring drills, the Georgia staff conducted exit interviews with 110 players. Of them, 107 included Cox among the team leaders. "He’s like that big brother figure,” said star Dawgs linebacker Rennie Curran. "He’s been here for a while. He’s seasoned. He’s watched it from pretty much every angle. He didn’t play much and now coming in and having the world on his shoulders — you have to respect him because of what he’s experienced.” For all that Stafford meant to Georgia, last year ended as a disappointment. They had stars, with Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno two of six players taken in the draft. But after opening the season No. 1, the Bulldogs lost three games and settled for the Capital One Bowl. "We’re not interested in individual stars right now,” said coach Mark Richt. "We are interested in the team shining right now.” By all accounts, Cox’s everyday persona makes him popular with the team. He’s upbeat. Oh, he’s unbeaten, too. As a prep star in Charlotte, N.C., he went 31-0 as a starter in leading two state title teams. He’s 1-0 at Georgia, with more tales of triumph in his deep past. "He hasn’t ever lost a game as a starter,” said OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young. "I think he won every game in grade school. "He’s a veteran. He’s been there, done that.” Still, he hasn’t done this: hasn’t been Georgia’s main man carrying a heavy load of expectations for a season. Preparing for this role, Cox has turned to Shockley for guidance. Like Cox, Shockley was a touted recruit forced to sit and wait for a chance. And he made the most of it. Can Cox? Said Richt: "Joe has prepared for this moment.” Text "Cowboys" to 65360 for your chance to win 2 tickets to OSU vs. Houston in Stillwater, Sept. 12. OSU text updates from NewsOK sponsored by Bone & Joint Hospital.