SCOTT: SEC News & Notes

With last week's dramatic 14-13 victory over Colorado, Georgia added another win and yet another chapter to its quarterback quandary.

With senior Joe Tereshinski sidelined by a bad ankle sprain and his replacement, true freshman Matthew Stafford, struggling to put anything together and get Georgia's offense moving in the right direction, coach Mark Richt gave redshirt freshman Joe Cox a shot on Saturday against Colorado.


All Cox did was pass for two touchdowns and rally No. 9 Georgia to a 14-13 come-from-behind victory over Colorado.


"It's hard to say exactly what to do for sure," Richt said. "We'll have to step back and look at the big picture again, but Joe Cox threw his hat in there real strong today."


Cox completed 10 of 13 passes for 154 yards in less than a half and his four drives accounted for 195 of Georgia's 284 total yards. More important, he played with poise and confidence in his first significant playing time.


"Joe came out there and got in the huddle the first time and got in our face and told us we were going to do this," fullback Brannan Southerland said. "He gave us some leadership."


Georgia players said Cox entered the huddle and told them, "If we can't score two times, we don't deserve to wear G's on our helmets."


"You know, you think it would be so nerve-racking," Cox said. "That was the most fun time that I ever had in my life. I mean, we were just talking in the huddle, and there was no breakdown of confidence or anything like that."


That was evident on the game's decisive touchdown play. The Bulldogs faced third-and-five at the 20-yard line with less than a minute to play when Cox saw that tight end Martez Milner, lined up on the left side of the offensive line, had one straight man-to-man coverage from a linebacker with no safety in deep support.


"I really had three really good options," Cox said. "On my drop, I looked at Trez out of the corner of my eye, and I saw him fly around (the linebacker) and I knew the guy was a lot smaller than him and I knew if I just hung it up, it would be a touchdown."


Brandon Coutu's PAT with 46 seconds left gave the Bulldogs their winning points and Cox gave the Georgia coaches plenty to think about as they turn their attention toward Saturday's game at Ole Miss.


On the one hand, Cox is on a roll with his performance against Colorado.


"I felt confidence with Joe going in there," quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said. "He came in and gave us that. That is one of the reasons we recruited him. ... He was a winner in high school, had a lot of the intangibles, the leadership, and that showed today."


On the other hand, the coaches don't sound like they're ready to give up on Stafford, who completed 8 of 16 passes for 76 yards. Stafford was also hurt by dropped passes and poor blocking and finally left the game after fumbling under pressure as he dropped back to pass.


"Happy with the win, man," Stafford said. "(Cox) is a fiery guy, and he got in there and did an awesome job, completed a couple balls and swung the tide. ... I know that I didn't play my best game. I'm getting kind of tired of saying that, but these type of games are going to happen."


If Richt is ready to give up on Stafford, which isn't likely, it didn't show.


"I want to be real clear, I'm not disappointed in Matthew at all," Richt said. "It was just a matter of saying, ‘We need to get this thing going.' Sometimes you just need to get that starter out of there.


"We'll look at the film and try to be real certain about what happened. I imagine there'll be some computers blowing up with people hitting the Internet speculating about who will play quarterback."


By the time you read this, Richt will have decided on a starter for the Ole Miss game, but regardless of who he picks the situation will remain in flux until Tereshinski returns in two or three weeks or until someone finally nails down the job. It's not like Tereshinski has done anything to make people forget the two previous starters, current NFL backups David Greene and D.J. Shockley.


"If he starts me, he starts me," Cox said. "If I sit on the bench with a hat on, I'm going to wear that hat proudly. Whatever Coach Richt wants to do in regards to me, I'll do it. I know if Matt had stayed in, he would have done the best he could, and I have all the confidence in the world he would have (led a comeback), too."


For now, Georgia remains undefeated at 4-0, and that's got to count for something. It's an impressive record for a team that has played three quarterbacks in critical situations already this season, but the Bulldogs have yet to face the reality of Tennessee on Oct. 7, Florida on Oct. 28 and Auburn on Nov. 11.


"We have got a lot of fight in our heart and it showed in the end," senior offensive tackle Daniel Inman said. "(Stafford) was fighting as hard as he could, and sometimes it takes a little spark. This team fought to the end, and sometimes it takes a lot of heart. I'll take heart any day."


Heart – and a consistently effective quarterback.




Embattled Arkansas coach Houston Nutt is buying time and good will by the box these days. He needs to start buying it by the 50-gallon drum.


After two consecutive losing seasons in his seventh and eighth season at Arkansas, Nutt bought himself some time in the offseason by making several changes to his coaching staff.


Nutt called the plays throughout his first eight seasons at Arkansas, but under pressure from athletic director Frank Broyles, he had to go out and find someone else to run the offense and call the plays. He hired Springdale (Ark.) High School coach Gus Malzahn as his offensive coordinator. Malzahn then brought in his three best players, quarterback Mitch Mustain, wide receiver Damian Williams and tight end Ben Cleveland.


The positives that came those changes were nearly wiped out when Arkansas opened the season with a 50-14 loss to USC in the season opener, but at least Nutt responded by making Mustain the starter for the second game of the season, a 20-0 victory over Utah State.


Even then, Nutt couldn't keep his hands off offense, pushing Malzahn to cut back on the spread offense he installed and run more I-formation plays – even though Mustain spent most of his senior season operating from the shotgun in Malzahn's offense.


Nutt also allowed divisive in-fighting among his staff members, with both Nutt and offensive line coach Mike Markuson openly and angrily berating Malzahn on the sidelines during the Utah State game.


Of course, Markuson was also one of the first people to congratulate Malzahn after a 21-19 victory at Vanderbilt in the third game of the season, but that hasn't kept Razorback fans from talking about all the problems on the staff, or about Nutt's alleged resentment of Malzahn, or about Nutt's obsession about his own status on the staff and making certain that the ultimate credit goes to him.


Nutt didn't help his cause after the Vanderbilt game when he said, "I needed that. I really needed that. They beat me in the last second last year. They owed me that one."


Nutt bought himself some more time with a 24-23 double-overtime win over Alabama on Saturday, Arkansas' first significant win in Fayetteville since beating the Crimson Tide on Sept. 25, 2004. Then again, Nutt's critics will be quick to say that Alabama had several chances to win the game and probably would have if it could have kicked field goals and extra points.


That's two consecutive games in which the Razorbacks have won when the opposing kicker failed to convert make-able field goals in the clutch.


"We needed to win this one, especially at home," Nutt said. "Our fans deserved a win like this."


No one needed it more than Nutt. His job remains very much on the line, to the point where Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Wally Hall speculated last week that the wheels of a coaching change would be set in motion this week with a loss to Alabama.


Instead, the wheels sit idle, for now. Arkansas has an open date this week to get ready for an Oct. 7 game at Auburn that will also go a long way toward determining Nutt's fate.


For now, Arkansas is 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1998.

"I really think we can take off now," Nutt said. "This gives you the kind of confidence that you need."




While Mississippi State and South Carolina have turned to old quarterbacks to find new answers the past two weeks, the ineffective play of Ole Miss' new quarterback is getting real old, real quick.


At Mississippi State, quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-quarterback Omarr Conner led the Bulldogs to a 16-10 overtime victory at UAB on Saturday.


At South Carolina, quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-all-purpose-player-turned quarterback Syvelle Newton threw five touchdown passes in a 45-6 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.


In both cases, senior quarterbacks replaced struggling starters and brought a much-needed spark to their respective teams. Both quarterbacks face much tougher challenges this week with South Carolina hosting Auburn and Mississippi State playing at LSU, but at least both teams are playing more confidence now.


The same cannot be said of Ole Miss, where coach Ed Orgeron signed former Tennessee quarterback Brent Schaeffer out of junior college with the promise of a starting job.


Schaeffer opened the season with a decent overall performance in a 28-25 win over but his performance his slipped in each of the past three games.


After turning the ball over three times in a 31-14 loss at Kentucky two weeks ago Schaeffer hit the skids once again on Saturday in a 27-3 home loss to Wake Forest. He completed only 13 of 28 passes for 127 yards and an interception and Ole Miss produced only 237 total yards.


The situation got so bad that Orgeron and first-year offensive coordinator Dan Werner had to pull Schaeffer in the fourth quarter. Backup Seth Adams replaced Schaeffer and completed 8 of 11 passes for 84 yards. It was enough to convince Orgeron to say the Rebels are going to "look at what we're doing."


"I thought Seth came in in the fourth quarter and played well," Orgeron said. "He's the best quarterback for our team, we'll play him. I'm not saying that now, we'll make that decision."




Richard Scott isa Birmingham, Ala. based sports writer, author and featured columnist for Tiger Rag. Reach him at

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