ATHENS, Ga. — If there was any debate before this spring, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Joe Cox has put to rest the possibility that he wouldn’t be Georgia’s starting quarterback in 2009.
“He not only wants to be the starter, but he wants to be the leader of this football team,” Bobo said. “He’s trying to lead these guys and make sure we’re doing things the right way.”
Cox admits he doesn’t have the arm his predecessor possessed, but that’s not his game. His game is all about leadership, and it’s something he has been developing since he arrived at Georgia.
“That’s one of the main reasons we recruited Joe Cox was that intangible leadership he showed in high school,” Bobo said. “He is productive when he’s in there, they’ve seen him be productive in practice, and he’s been productive this spring.”
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Cox has taken the younger quarterbacks under his wing this spring, and while he’s spent hours teaching his understudies, Bobo also has been pleased with the example Cox has set on the field.
“Joe’s a perfect example,” Bobo said. “I’m always telling them to listen to what I’m saying, but I’m also telling them to watch Joe Cox on every throw because he knows how to do it.”
QBs coming along
Cox’s veteran leadership seems to be paying dividends with his two young understudies.
For the second straight scrimmage, freshman Aaron Murray was responsible for the offense’s best highlight, a 64-yard touchdown pass to Israel Troupe. Murray finished the scrimmage 6-of-10 passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
His fellow early enrollee, Zach Mettenberger, didn’t post big numbers, but head coach Mark Richt said he has made solid progress, too, this spring.
“I’m really, really pleased with the quarterbacks,” Richt said. “Zach is placing the ball very, very well. Aaron has found the open man deep a couple times, which is good. I stand right in the huddle and listen to them call the play and they’re getting more and more confidence. There’s a lot less confusion.”
While the progress has been obvious, Richt isn’t ready to make any decisions about the future just yet. The upside, he said, is that both Murray and Mettenberger have shown that, if needed, they would be ready to play in a game. Richt just isn’t sure if they’ll be needed at this point.
“I’m not going to be in a rush right now to say either one would be redshirted or not yet.” Richt said. “When it gets closer to the moment of truth, we’ve just got to decide.”
Gray in the mix
The spring hasn’t just been about the senior and the freshmen. Georgia’s other quarterback has been impressive, too.
During Saturday’s scrimmage, Logan Gray completed 7-of-9 passes for 52 yards and a touchdown and showed impressive accuracy and decision-making, Richt said.
After missing many quarterback meetings and prep time while playing on special teams a year ago, Gray is still playing catch up on the field, but Richt said the progress he’s making has been evident at times.
“Logan is still a little inconsistent, but when he puts it together, it looks good,” Richt said. “There’s been a couple days he looked great, and a couple days when he was still kind of up and down.”
Gray’s arm is developing, but it’s his legs that may be most intriguing. His speed and athleticism landed him a role as a returner on special teams last season, and Richt said that, as the second-string quarterback, Gray could see significant action on sets designed to exploit his abilities, similar to the role D.J. Shockley played with Georgia while backing up David Greene.
For now, however, Bobo just wants Gray to concentrate on his fundamentals and let the coaches figure out how to use him down the road.
“This spring isn’t about scheming or finding ways to get him in space,” Bobo said. “It’s about developing him as a quarterback. Halfway through spring, he’s done a nice job of that.”
Wilson hitting again
Tony Wilson shed his green, non-contact jersey a few days ago, and getting back into the action on the field has been a huge relief for the junior wide receiver who missed most of last season with an ankle injury.
“It’s encouraging to be back on the field after so long,” Wilson said. “Being able to hit somebody yesterday, it had been since Arizona State (last September) since the last time I hit somebody. So it just felt good to be back out there.”
Wilson participated in Saturday’s scrimmage, but Richt said he is only at about 60 percent right now. Still, Wilson said he is encouraged by the progress and remains patient as the ankle heals.
“I’ve got four or five months to go, so we can break that 40 percent down and make it a healthy 100 by the time the fall comes,” Wilson said.