HOOVER, Ala. - The media's introduction to Georgia quarterback Joe Cox drew a number of reactions from those who were meeting him for the first time.
Not all were necessarily flattering.
As Cox was making his way up and down radio row at the Wynfrey Hotel, whispers were overheard coming from some of the DJs on air, speculating that the Bulldogs will be in a lot of trouble with the fifth-year senior at the helm.
A recent story by a columnist in Arkansas picked Cox as the 12th-best (or worst) quarterback in the SEC this year.
"It will motivate you," Cox said. "But obviously I'm probably the one with the least amount of playing experience and if I had to choose based on the guys who have and haven't played I'd probably not put myself up very high."
The question didn't stop there.
With Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno now playing in the NFL, the prevailing perception floating throughout those attending Media Days is that the Bulldogs offense will be worse off with Cox running the show.
Cox was asked about that possibility.
"There's always a possibility you get worse but there's also a possibility you get better," Cox said. "Obviously we want to get better and do just as good as they did when they were here. We have guys that can play and try to do our best to make plays and be successful as an offense. Just because those guys are gone we're not packing up and saying 'Ok, defense. Go win the games for us.' We want to be successful too and we're doing everything we can. Time will tell."
Cox's own expectations certainly haven't changed.
Picked to finish second in the SEC East by the league media behind Florida, the North Carolina native said Georgia's goals aren't any different than they've been in his four previous years with the team.
"Our expectations haven't changed. I know a lot of people are overlooking us but that's probably the best thing for us. It's enabled us to have a good off-season and we're looking to take it on through camp and into the season," Cox said. "People make predictions and people make rankings but at the end of the day it really doesn't matter until you get on the field and play. It's not something I'm really worried about."
Cox is more concerned about making sure the Bulldogs are focused on the season at hand.
No problem there.
Although he's started just one game (Ole Miss) over the course of his Bulldog career, Cox did get his share of time last year behind Stafford. While Cox knows he's still going to have to go out and prove himself in the eyes of the fans, there's certainly no shortage of confidence on his part to live up to their expectations.
"I'm glad I got a chance to get into some games against some big-named teams in some different situations so that will make it that much easier because I won't have to anticipate how it's going to be or how I'm going to react," Cox said. "I'm confident I can get the job done."
In case he has any questions, former quarterback D.J. Shockley is only a phone call away.
Cox's situation is similar to that of the current Atlanta Falcon, who patiently waited his turn behind David Greene before leading Georgia to an SEC title in 2005.
"I talk to him (Shockley) a lot. I don't call and just ask a bunch of questions but it's good to have somebody I can talk to who went through the same thing that you can talk to really about anything," Cox said. "It's always good to hear from him and he's always got something to say. If I'm struggling with something or something has been on my mind I'll tell him but it's not like we have an hour-long conversation every other day."
As he sat surrounded by 50 or so reporters, Cox was peppered with countless other questions, including one he's answered probably 100 times - why did he stick with Georgia after getting stuck behind Stafford for three years.
His answer was just what Georgia fans have come to learn.
"I never really thought about leaving. When I signed to come to Georgia it was for good. No matter what would have happened," Cox said. "Even if Matthew had come back I would not have regretted coming here. I've made too many good friends, had too good of a time and be part of this team to just pack up and go somewhere else."
Instead, Cox talked about how he patiently waited his turn and will be under center when the Bulldogs travel to Stillwater to challenge Oklahoma State, which many assume will be a preseason top-10 pick.
"We've been watching a lot of film on them," he said. "That's going to be a huge challenge. A lot of people are saying that might be the toughest Georgia opener ever and we're all looking forward to it. It's a great test for us and will definitely be one of our biggest games of the season."
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