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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Practice Notes: Cox Copes With Criticism

Joe Cox swears he hasn’t owned a working computer in 18 months. At times it might have been an inconvenience, but lately, he’s been happy not to have it.

With Georgia’s 4-4 start to the season and Cox’s 12 interceptions to go along with the record, Cox hasn’t had much interest in surfing the Internet to see what fans are saying about his performance.

“Anybody can get on that and talk about sports,” Cox said. “That’s like me going on WebMD and talking like I’m a doctor and telling these guys what they should be doing in hospitals. That’s the least of my worries.”

It’s not that Cox doesn’t understand the concerns of fans. He freely admits that he hasn’t played well, and he said he would have understood if head coach Mark Richt had decided to bench him after last week’s three-interception performance against Florida.

But being at the center of a sea of criticism is no easy task, and the only real option, he said, is to avoid it.

“When you have a bad game, and you go out to eat the following week, you feel like there might be people at the restaurant talking bad about you,” he said. “It’s tough. You don’t want to go out sometimes and be places. I’ve changed so much in my life as far as how much I do and where I go just based on the role that I have on the football team. It’s tough to get used to. You never know how crazy it is until you’re really in that position.”

Cox said he even warns his parents to stay away from message boards and fan blogs after the games. While he can handle the criticism, he said they take it much more personally.
The animosity aimed at Cox reached a new crescendo this week as the Bulldogs dropped their second straight game to Florida, with Cox’s bad throws at the center of the underwhelming performance.

But rather than let his quarterback twist in the wind this week, Richt announced Monday that Cox would remain the starter, citing a unanimous vote among the coaches.

“It means a lot having your coach’s confidence. I’m definitely glad it’s not something I have to answer, and I’m just glad I have another week where I have to play football.”

It hasn’t been the senior year Cox had dreamed of, and the costs of being the starting quarterback at Georgia have been greater than even he expected, but he still wouldn’t trade the job for anything.

“I definitely don’t want to have the plug pulled on me and not play any more for the rest of the year. I have another chance and I want to make the best of it.”


Freshman Washaun Ealey got the starting nod at tailback for two straight weeks, but a missed block against Florida will likely cost him that role this week. While Ealey continues to run the ball well, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said pass protection remains a concern that’s too big to ignore.

“It’s always a big concern with young backs,” Bobo said. “I do know he knows what to do, he just did not execute the proper techniques of how to block. It was costly in (the last) game … but I think he’ll improve. He’s just got to trust his technique and execute it properly.”

Bobo said Ealey has gotten plenty of advice this week from the Bulldogs’ expected starter, Caleb King.

Last year, King missed a key block against Florida as well and then-running backs coach Tony Ball benched him for the next few games. The punishment was tough, but the lesson was learned, and King improved dramatically during the offseason.

Ealey won’t be benched, he just won’t start. Unlike last season, Georgia’s need for a strong runner outweighs any benefit a stint on the sideline might offer. It’s in stark contrast to the decisions Richt made with another freshman tailback a few years ago.

“That's one of the main reasons why Knowshon (Moreno) ended up redshirting because when it got time to doing those kind of things, especially early on in camp, he was a freshman,” Richt said. “He was struggling at it, and we had three veteran guys, three very proven guys.”

Georgia didn’t have that luxury this season, but Richt doesn’t have any regrets about playing Ealey, who waited until the fifth game of the season before seeing action. It simply means that the Bulldogs will have to take the good with the bad as Ealey learns on the field.

“This time around,” Richt said, “we are playing the freshman and kind of taking some of the lumps."


With four games remaining and the chances of an SEC East crown now gone, Richt said this week he plans to keep shooting for wins this season rather than giving additional playing time to some younger players as preparation for the future.

While the decision met with mixed reviews from fans, Georgia’s up-and-comers aren’t complaining about the veterans keeping their jobs.

“In every sport there’s always a person pushing for a starting spot, but I don’t believe there’s any jealousy amongst the players that would make a younger player think he wants to move an older player out,” said sophomore linebacker Marcus Dowtin, who has seen his role increase as the season has progressed. “We compete at practice every day, and the coaches will make the best decisions.”

Baccari Rambo has earned more playing time each week, too, but has so far been unable to push senior Bryan Evans from the starting lineup at safety. While Rambo said he would love the starting job, he said he respects his coaches for giving the veterans a chance to turn things around.

“I think by Coach Richt supporting the veterans, when I get my time, that’ll happen to me,” Rambo said. “When they make mistakes, I try to learn from them. I think it’s a great thing how Coach Richt supports the veterans and lets them try to get better and correct their mistakes.”


Defensive end Justin Houston is doubtful for Saturday’s game after suffering a hyperextended elbow last week, and Richt said there will likely be a rotation of players filling the void.

Cornelius Washington, Montez Robinson and Kiante Tripp are likely to each see a bump in playing time against Tennessee Tech if Houston missed the game, Richt said. Tripp has been inactive for the past six games after seeing some early action, due mostly to a shoulder injury that has hindered his progress since moving from the offensive line in January.

“He was working his way into some playing time early on, and then the injuries set him back for a long time,” Richt said. “Being injured that long, it’s just hard to snap your fingers and be right back where you were. … But I’ve seen a lot of effort an energy out of him this week, that’s for sure.”


Florida coach Urban Meyer announced Wednesday that linebacker Brandon Spikes would sit out all of the Gators' game against Vanderbilt this week as punishment for attempting to gouge the eyes of Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey. Meyer had originally only suspended Spikes for the first half.

But while Spikes' punishment was increased, Meyer also noted that Georgia linebacker Nick Williams had hit quarterback Tim Tebow late on a play and should have been flagged. Meyer brought the hit to the attention of the SEC head of officials this week but did not disclose the league's response. Richt said that after reviewing the film, Meyer's critique was correct.

For his part, Williams said he was unaware that Meyer had sent the tape to the SEC, but said the hit was just part of the game and was not intentional.

"I was just trying to make a play," Williams said. "Tebow is a great player, and it's obvious you better get him on the ground or he's going to spark something. I was just trying to make a play, and I didn't think anything of it. I wasn't trying to hurt him or anything, I was just out there playing."


Defensive end Neland Ball hasn't been a participant in practice since the preseason, and Wednesday we found out why.

Richt announced that Ball had been given a medical disqualification in September, but the news had not been officially released.

Ball, a redshirt sophomore, played in five games in 2008. He missed all of spring practice this year with a tendon injury in his knee, but it was a chronic back problem that brought about the medical DQ.


Left tackle Clint Boling suffered a knee injury against Florida last week, but Richt said the junior should be available this week.

"Boling is fine," Richt said. "He was able to go with no limitations (at practice) today."


JasonC said...

“I think by Coach Richt supporting the veterans, when I get my time, that’ll happen to me,” Rambo said. “When they make mistakes, I try to learn from them."
Well, I guess Rambo has been able to learn a lot from Evans... A LOT.

DevildawgNC said...

Sorry, this may be stupid, but does that mean Neland Ball is out for this season, or permanently?

Thanks for the updates by the way, it's nice to get some plain ole practice coverage and quotes from the players.

rbubp said...

Nick Williams' excuse for that hit is as pathetic BS as I've ever heard. Nick, you were trying to send him a message. It's better just not to say anything than to contend you were "just trying to make a play."

Dash said...

Uhhhh Joe, you going on Web MD and acting like a doctor is not the same as, say, me criticizing you for throwing interceptions. No one is claiming to know the offense like you do, but clearly, something isn't working. By your analogy we shouldn't criticize doctors when they botch a surgery or misdiagnose a patient.

Armstrong Comma Lance said...

So Rambo has already learned that under CMR, if you've "put in your time" you're going to play/start as a senior... Even if you're not the most talented at that position?? Great... That'll surely breed healthy competition at each position. Talk about complacency...

Therein lies another unintended consequence of CMR's uber loyal approach. It sure would be nice to have players working, preparing, and competing harder than the next guy to get the starting nod. As it stands now, you just call roll number on the younger guy and you get the spot. I bet that happens at... Oh, I'm not even going to name the increasingly long list of schools who, for the time being, are head and shoulders above us with reference to on field performance.

Anonymous said...

Playing crappy seniors over good freshmen/sophmores is retarded. Bench em...cause "The Bench Inspires."

Anonymous said...

I really don't like Cox's attitude towards fan criticism. He essentially says it doesn't matter to him b/c they don't know what they're talking about. Well, he was certainly willing to accept the praise (and national recognition) after the Arkansas game. He never questioned fans then did he?

Anonymous said...

Isn't a RB's primary responsibility to run the ball? It doesn't make much sense to me to bench Ealey b/c he missed one block IF he is succeeding at job #1(which he did v. one of the nation's best defenses) or to point to the redshirting of Moreno (admitted by all to be a mistake) as evidence of the policy's soundness.

Also, in the face of such hyper-sensitivity at the RB position how can the staff possibly justify starting Evans over and over and over again? He has made many more costly mistakes than Ealey and there are much more closely related to his primary duties. AND he has a back-up admitted by all to be a quality up-and-coming player.

I want CMR to do well, but I have serious doubts about the intelligence and judgment of his staff.

Anonymous said...

Mark Richt has lost his mind.

There is absolutely, positively no reason why Bryan Evans should ever see the field again.

And to do it at the expense of Rambo, arguably our only true playmaker on defense?

This stinks of seniority system and is so emblematic of why this program is going in the tank.

I was finally over last week until I read these garbage quotes.

Our coaching staff needs a therapist and an overhaul of talent. They are simply incompetent at this point.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Joe Cox is pathetic. I've been behind him all year, but now I hate him. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

At least Joe T knew enough to keep his mouth shut, and he is still beloved for it. Cox is slowly but surely making himself persona non grata in the state of Georgia after he graduates.

ben said...

“Anybody can get on that and talk about sports,” Cox said. “That’s like me going on WebMD and talking like I’m a doctor and telling these guys what they should be doing in hospitals. That’s the least of my worries.”

Fair enough Joe...but if I see herpes enough times...I don't need to go to the doctor to know that it IS herpes.

Reggie Ball said...

Dear Joe Cox,

Great comments! I totally agree that fans have no idea what they're talking about! I only wish I would have thought about that fantastic WebMD analysis when I played at GT.

Yours truly,

Reggie Ball