ther 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.
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.
Said Richt: "Joe has prepared for this moment.”
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