Struggling at QB? What to Do?

ATHENS – Georgia needs to figure something out at quarterback, but what to do?

There is no question – Joe Cox has been up and down (mainly down on Saturday) this season. But with Florida winning the Eastern Division Saturday and the season hanging in the balance just what should the Dawgs do at quarterback? Here are some of the options:

1. Stick with Joe Cox – This line of thinking assumes Cox improves protection of the football, and judging from the statistics that's a pretty big assumption. Georgia has had a difficult time holding on to the ball this season. Still, most of the turnovers are interceptions from Cox. At the beginning of the year it was harder to pinpoint person most prone to turnovers, but now it is clear – Cox is the culprit. Of Georgia's 21 turnovers Cox is responsible for 13 of them. No other Georgia player has more than one turnover. That means Cox is responsible for 62% of the Dawgs' turnovers this season, which is staggering. For every ten completions from Cox there is an interception.

There was a time when one could correlate Georgia's struggles running the ball with Cox being forced to do too much, but that thinking doesn't hold much water anymore. Cox had a steady running game yesterday, but he still managed to turn the ball over three times, and could have turned the ball over even more. He has had at least one interception in each game of the season. In Georgia's biggest four games (Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee and Florida) Cox has struggled with seven interceptions and five touchdowns. Against the Cowboys, Vols and Gators Cox didn't even get to 200 yards, which made for a difficult day for the Dawgs.

Cox seems to be able to make some throws, but has struggled to hit the long ball this season. Undoubtedly the team leader, Cox has hurt the team too much this season, but does he give them the best chance to get to a bowl game? Maybe. Cox still has the most experience of all of the quarterbacks at Georgia. That doesn't mean he should get the lion share of the snaps moving forward.

2. Get Logan Gray in there – This line of thinking starts getting the Dawgs ready for the 2010 season. The biggest question with throwing Gray out there is if he can win two games to get the Bulldogs to a bowl game. There are too many areas of work needed by this program to miss the extra practice guaranteed by a bowl game.

Gray has never been put into a game with favorable situations – at least not at quarterback. Sure, he's trotted out there for some wildcat formations, but in terms of the more traditional signal caller sets Gray has only entered games in blowout situations, which are not necessarily ideal. Still, Gray has struggled when he's played. Is that because he's in a terrible situation? Is that because he's not ready to be the starter? Both? We don't know. Logan Gray, no matter what, needs to play in each of the next four games – and I think he needs to be out there a fair amount. It would be a huge mistake (and doesn't make sense for the future of this program) to have no quarterback enter the 2010 season with a single significant snap. G-Days are for backups. Gray needs to play when the band is blowing a tune. Let's see what he's made of when it matters – not in garbage time.

If Gray is not the answer, and the coaches know it (which no one knows at this time), then there is another option.

3. Throw Aaron Murray out there – If Aaron Murray is the future of the program – or even if it is Zach Mettenberger – do you burn a season of eligibility to get experience in the final four (or five) games of the season? That's one of the most difficult questions to answer. If you know that Murray is the guy there is certainly validity to the argument that Murray should get out there. But for only that few amount of games?

This is where Mark Richt, Mike Bobo and the rest of the coaching staff have to worry about the Knowshon Hole. The Knowshon Hole is what you dig yourself into with supporters of the program if with the decision you make regarding talented freshmen. Do you play them or not? Richt and company should have played Moreno his true freshman season, and admitted so after the fact. Redshirt or not – there is always a Knowshon Hole with talented true freshmen.

But Murray's situation isn't like Moreno's. Murray is a very talented player, but he's not going to leave Georgia early for the NFL – certainly not after the 2011 season. So if Richt and company burn one of Murray's four years at Georgia and only get four or five games out if was it worth it? Probably not, but I can't say that people who argue for Murray playing are crazy. Still, I am of the opinion that Murray is a four-year player – not a leave-early guy. That means it would be a waste of a season to play him for four games.

In the end Cox should remain the starter unless the decision to go with Murray is what's made. If Murray is your man you have to roll with him… now. I don't think we totally know that yet. That's why I expect to see Cox start. Either way, if Gray doesn't get playing time fans should be furious because something has to be done to jumpstart the quarterback position. It is too important a spot to have subpar play.


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