Citing a Mark Bradley post that in turn quotes from an ESPN pay site is no doubt one the greatest sins I’ve ever committed at this blog, but the info that he quotes is too interesting to ignore (unlike Bradley’s own commentary in the post).
• “Last year, Stafford had plenty of weapons to utilize, but he was always on the run. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Stafford was drilled 93 times last season, up from 77 as a sophomore. Because of that, a Georgia offense that still managed 31.5 points per game [third in the SEC] was too star-driven. [Offensive coordinator Mike] Bobo admits that Stafford had a tendency to [focus on] his most reliable players while on the run.”
• “While the previews will say the Dawgs get back seven starters on offense, Bobo contends they get back eight … and that’s just on the offensive line. ‘We actually have eight guys back [on the O-line] that have started games for us, and we can move them around if we have to,’ Bobo says. Because of that, he thinks [Joe} Cox will be able to get more options involved. And he’ll need to. ‘Right now, we really have just one proven playmaker, but it’s not how we’ll play where we’re just tossing it to [A.J. Green]; you’ll see us spread it around.’ ”
That’s one reason I think the criticism thrown Stafford’s way is a bit unfair. ’06 was just a chaotic year on offense (of course, the QB situation was part of that) and ’08 saw an offensive line that was discombobulated frequently, as the quarterback hit numbers indicate. There were a number of games where we saw what happened when Stafford didn’t trust his pass protection – not only the reliance that Bobo mentioned, but also Matt’s tendency to let his mechanics slide.
But I also think that affected Bobo’s game calling. Listen to the way he sounds now. Give that man a line that can block and protect and I believe he’s confident enough to make the offense work. And I have to think some of that stems from what Bobo sees in Joe Cox.
On a somewhat related front, I think Coach Richt may be overstating his case about the questions Cox faces at the helm this year.
… But while Cox may be a bit unfairly judged by what Shockley accomplished, Mark Richt thinks that his current quarterback has actually had it a bit easier than his old one did.
“If you remember, Shockley’s last game he played a lot in was Georgia Tech on a cold, wet day, and he didn’t play very well,” Richt said. “So there was a lot of people, a large contingent of fans who were like, ‘This kid can’t do it.’ I think Shockley came into the season with more doubters than what Joe’s coming into the season with, in my opinion…”
Apples and oranges, if you ask me.
As a backup to Greene, Shockley was inserted into games far more frequently than Cox has been during his career. So I’m not sure which engenders less confidence among the faithful, playing relatively frequently with plenty of ups and downs, or simply not seeing the playing field in a meaningful way other than for a couple of quarters during a period when it was clear the staff wanted to go with the true freshman. Not to mention that Richt is looking for very different things from Joe than he was from DJ in order for the offense to function successfully.