Joe Cox and what could have been

When the dust settles on this very disappointing season and we’ve all had some time to absorb and reflect on things, I believe the key factor we’ll wind up pointing to is turnover margin.

As David Hale demonstrated in this excellent post, Georgia’s TO margin in 2009 is bad.  Epicly bad, as he wrote.  As you can see from his charts, it’s almost impossible for a program to wind up with a winning record when its propensity for giving up the ball is in the territory Georgia occupies this year.  That 7-5 record seems even more remarkable when you consider the quality of Georgia’s 2009 strength of schedule.

And here’s some more food for thought to chew on over this winter – a statistical breakdown of the SEC’s top nine starting quarterbacks (based on yardage) in conference games over at  Take a look at how Joe Cox shapes up in that group:


Quarterback School C-A-I Yards TD Pct. YPPA
R. Mallett Ark 139-272-5 2189 16 51.1 8.04
S. Garcia SC 167-305-7 2105 11 54.7 6.90
J. Cox Ga 130-215-11 1806 17 60.4 8.40
J. Crompton Tenn 137-243-6 1686 14 56.4 6.93
J. Snead Miss 119-227-15 1605 10 52.4 7.07
G. McElroy Ala 128-216-3 1484 11 59.2 6.87
J. Jefferson LSU 131-211-4 1464 9 62.1 6.93
T. Tebow Fla 103-159-4 1305 7 64.7 8.25
C. Todd Aub 109-196-5 1292 6 55.6 6.59

As Pennington notes:

* If you take away his interceptions — and you can’t — Georgia’s Cox had one of the best seasons in the SEC.  His YPPA was the best in the league (aided by AJ Green) and his completion percentage was very good.  Ironically, it seems that when Cox would miss, he would miss right into the arms of an opposing defensive back.  But his season from a purely statistical standpoint was actually a pretty good one.

If by “pretty good” he means stellar as to completion percentage (3rd), passing yardage (3rd), touchdowns (1st) and yards per attempt (1st) and abysmal with regard to interceptions (8th), he’s right.

Again, at the time I read this quote from Mark Richt,

“I think that as I look back I’ve never had a season where the turnover ration was just so poor,” Richt said. “I think if you just take that one thing and make it just break even, we’d probably win two or three more games without changing one thing. But you can’t do that, and there’s definitely some things we need to correct…”

I took it as little more than wistful excuse making, but the more you look at the team’s statistics, the more credible that observation is.  If nothing else, it ought to be a top priority for the next defensive coordinator in Athens.  As well as for the next starting quarterback.

Next year’s mantra:  regression to the mean, baby!  It may not be as catchy as “Finish the Drill”, but it’s got potential.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

14 responses to “Joe Cox and what could have been

  1. Richt-Flair

    The enigma that is wrapped in a mystery of Cox for me is … we thought we were getting a superbly accurate short- to mid-range passer with fifth-year senior quarterback decision making. Turned out he could throw one of the best deep balls in the SEC, but wasn’t quite as accurate on those short to mid-range passes, got too many balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and made some horrible, horrible decisions at times.

    It probably sounds like a knock on him and that’s not where I wanted to go. I thought what we were able to do against Auburn and Tech is more of the role Cox should have been in, but do to no running game for the first half of the season, he was forced into doing more than he should have been asked.


    • SCDawg

      Agree 100%. Think about this, too.

      Forget about the running game problems we had and the horrible TO margin. How much different do we feel about this season if there is no KO problem? Or no celebration penalty against us in the LSU game? (I know the refs didn’t miss all those tackles on LSU’s next drive, I know).

      We’re probably 9-3 because we beat KY and LSU, we’re the third best team in the SEC, and we’re going to the Cap 1 bowl.

      I don’t know that I should or that I even want to, but I feel better about this season the further away we get from it.


      • Ausdawg85

        If Rennie doesn’t tip a pass against SC and AJ…AJ!?…block a FG against ASU we could have been 5 – 7.

        Just saying.


        • SCDawg

          True. Speculation cuts both ways-every season has games and plays like that. I guess what I’m saying is I think KO coverage and TO margin doomed us this year, but to have the TO margin we had and have a winning record is way, way out of the ordinary.


      • JTK

        I feel like LSU beat GA twice. If GA comes from behind to win that game they carry that momentum into the Tenn game. Having that game slip through their fingers (KO, Refs, or whatever) killed them the next week.


  2. It is very evident even by his statistics, that Joe Cox(His Brain) is better quarterback than the bottom line of his 2009 team.

    The problem of his injury in his throwing arm is obviously a bigger factor. Because it is a nerve injury as he calls it, any electrician will tell you or we all know that if the line(nerve) from the source(His Brain) of power is somewhat damage going to the motor, that so called motor will occasionally sputter. Think of the battery terminals that are corroded. think of your car starter occasionally misfiring.

    The reason why he was called by the coaches as our best option to win is because of His Brain. They obviously know that the shoulder injury results to intermittent misfiring—- blatant interceptions.


    • Normaltown Mike

      If only we had 2007 Evil Richt on the sidelines this year. He would’ve devised some way to attach Joe “The Brain” Cox to a larger able body (maybe Kiante Tripp?) to create an unstoppable force.

      Something like Master Blaster


  3. 69Dawg

    This year was the perfect storm of us turning it over and the D not getting any in return. The D staff got fired but the O turned it over. Bobo and the RB coach are as big a factor in the TO’s as the players are.

    Bobo should have been screaming all year just take the sack or throw the ball out of bounds. Joe was just trying too hard to make a play his arm wouldn’t allow.

    I never once saw our RB’s change the balls carry position once they took the hand off. This is basic stuff. If you are carrying the ball wrong and get hit the ball will be in play. I’m not sold on Brian M as a RB coach.


  4. Alphadawg

    It’s not so much the give aways – as those were on par w/others in the SEC. It was the D’s inability to take away the ball that was so often our downfall.

    What’s worse is I distinctly remember seeing an article in the AJC back during fall camp discussing how the defense and then DC Martinez were focusing on take aways and creating turnovers.


  5. As a followup on Joe Cox shoulder. The shoulder is the most complicated joint in our body. The shoulder’s rotator cuff is composed of many different muscles controlled by various nerves.. it just makes sense that the muscles or ligaments that control his short and medium range throws are the once affected by his injury, and becomes more evident when fatigued or under stress… remember the need for Wednesday offs.

    This seem to make sense considering he seem to be able to throw those miracle bombs but bungles those shorter once.


    • Ausdawg85

      That and he’s relatively short for a QB with slow feet to adjust for his inability to see the intermediate routes over the line of scrimmage.

      Look how well he did with the roll-outs to Charles. An adjustment made in the last game of the year.


  6. Ken

    Regarding Joe’s shoulder, I never saw the bad throws as a function of his mechanics. The only muscular problem I saw was with the one sitting atop his shoulders.

    From my recollection, his most egregious interceptions always seemed to be when he was throwing off of the back foot while under pressure, essentially heaving it in hopes that it lands somewhere good instead of getting rid of it properly.

    That problem aside, I always felt that Joe was/is a quite capable quarterback and leader.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      The real problem was that Joe Cox, while a 5th year senior in eligibility, was really a freshman in game experience. Shockley played a series or 2 in every game while he was a back-up. Joe Cox never got that game experience. Every QB is going to FU some at the beginning. I remember Stafford throwing INT’s when he was a frosh. Joe Cox never had a chance. He got thrown into the deep end without a life preserver right off the bat. I honestly believe that if Joe Cox was brought along like Shockley he would have had a Shockley-type year this past season. Who is to blame for that? I do not want to beat a dead horse but it all gets back to the bad D the last couple of years. When we were in those scoring contests with every team we faced it was awfully difficult for CMR to pull Stafford out of the game to get more experience for Joe Cox. Also, at that point, I don’t know that anyone knew that Staff would be gone to the NFL a year early. Giving Joe Cox game experience could have been viewed as a waste. The truly sad thing is that had Matt Stafford never come to UGA Joe Cox may very well have been a 4 year starter and had a remarkable career at QB for the Dawgs. We’ll never really know.


  7. TenSpeed

    One other item you missed. Dropped passes, and an LSU Zebra!