ATHENS — Prior to this season, Joe Cox probably had plenty of thoughts on how he wanted to be remembered for his one year as Georgia’s quarterback.
This wasn’t it.
Joining defensive coordinator Willie Martinez as many Georgia fans’ go-to goat wasn’t the plan.
Being the leader of a Georgia squad that is a five-loss team for the first time under coach head Mark Richt wasn’t either.
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Becoming the chief perpetrator on a team that is almost the nation’s worst (No. 119 out of 120 FCS programs) in turnover margin probably never crossed his mind.
The course of the Bulldogs’ season already has diluted any dreams Cox had. But with one final regular-season test Saturday against Georgia Tech, Cox is hoping to do some last-minute revising of his own.
“(I want to be remembered) just as a guy that never quit, really, with the season that we’ve had,” Cox said Tuesday. “You know, if you had asked me before the season, I would have had a different way I wanted to be remembered, but I can’t change what’s happened. All I can do is keep playing, and hopefully people just see that, not only me but our team, that our team is one that doesn’t quit.”
Cox, a fifth-year senior who waited behind Matthew Stafford for his one shot at Georgia glory, has thrown for 21 touchdowns in 11 games this season.
He was named a national player of the week for his performance against Arkansas, matching a school record with five passing touchdowns.
Unfortunately, he has also thrown 14 interceptions, a problem that came to a hideous fruition in the Bulldogs’ last game, when Cox’s two second-half picks all but gave Kentucky its first win in Athens in more than 30 years.
But, when you a player suits up for Georgia, a strong showing against Georgia Tech (not to mention a seventh-ranked Yellow Jackets squad), it can have a way of instantly erasing a lot of the bad memories.
“I think it can do a lot to be able to finish up against a really good team with a win,” Cox said. “It could change a lot of things.”
And, like they have been all season, his teammates are in his corner.
“I think it would mean a lot to him, just because of the way the season has gone,” offensive lineman Clint Boling said. “If we can finish off with a win against Tech, that would be a huge win for all of us, especially Joe. I know he wants it.”
Added fullback Shaun Chapas, “As any player does, if you don’t play your best game, you kind of wish you could do things differently. But he’s always had a positive attitude, and he’s always been the guy to look to.”
When he threw his first interception against the Wildcats, Cox broke a string of 11 consecutive interception-free quarters, after orchestrating turnover-free performances against Tennessee Tech and Auburn.
That pick set up a short field for what ended up being the winning touchdown for Kentucky with nine minutes to play. His second, on the first play of Georgia’s final drive of the game, ended Georgia’s shot at tying the game with less than two minutes to play.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Cox said. “It’s been awesome at times, it’s been really frustrating at times. But that’s football, and it just hasn’t gone our way a lot of times this year.”
Saturday, he’s hoping it will.