"Georgia Tech is really the one game that I looked like I never played football before in my life," Shockley said Monday.
That was then. Shockley will return triumphant to the field against the Yellow Jackets on Saturday in Atlanta. The senior is having one of the best seasons ever by a Georgia quarterback and is a candidate to be named the SEC's offensive player of the year.
"I'm thrilled for D.J.," Coach Mark Richt said. "It could have gone a lot of different directions. I'm confident by the time this season is over, he will have that smile on his face I've been hoping and praying for for him."
Shockley, who waited behind Greene for four seasons, is first in the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency and second in passing yards per game (222.3) and total offense (250.1). Most impressively, his 18-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best in the league.
"It's been amazing," Shockley said. "I can't ask for much more than what's happening. Coming into the year, I always wanted to be in the position where we could play in the SEC Championship Game and win the East. We're in that position now."
D.J. Shockley is 8-1 as a collegiate starter, and he threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns in his team's only defeat with him in the game.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," he said.
Cutler has thrown 1,072 more yards than Shockley (3,073 to 2,001), and he will get the sentimental vote. The Commodores senior has excelled on some bad teams in Nashville for four seasons and leads the SEC in passing yards per game (279.4) and total offense (298.9).
Irons may have the most momentum going into the vote. He leads the SEC in rushing (109.5) and has averaged 147.7 yards in his last six games.
Shockley, though, can make a very strong argument. He will move intothe school's top five in single-season passing yardage if he averages263 yards per game in Georgia's final three games. He is completing 57.1 percent of his passes, which is far better than his ratio from the previous two seasons, and he has handled the mental side of the game just as well, Richt said.
"He's run the system extremely well," Richt said. "He's made great audibles. We train our guys to do it themselves, and he has handled every bit as much as Greene ever handled. He's just done a great job."
Shockley's uncharacteristic effort against Georgia Tech last year can be mostly explained away by cold, wet and windy weather, Richt said.
"Really, both teams' offenses weren't really having much of a day," he said. "It was kind of set up for both our defense and their defense to have a big day."
Nevertheless, Shockley feels like he has some antonement coming due.
"I always look at that game like if any guy wanted to get better, it's (me) against Georgia Tech," he said. "It was a rough game. I didn't play as well as I wanted to, but I've got another chance."