Struggling Cox could stay benched

Updated: October 31, 2009, 9:56 PM ET
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt is considering a quarterback change.

Fifth-year senior Joe Cox threw three interceptions -- all in the second half -- and the Bulldogs lost 41-17 to rival Florida on Saturday. Cox was benched midway through the fourth quarter of Georgia's third loss in its last four games.

Richt turned things over to sophomore Logan Gray, who threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"You don't want to make a decision right after an emotional loss," Richt said. "You have to look at the entire picture before you make a decision."

Cox took over the starting job after Matthew Stafford left school early and entered the NFL draft. Cox has started every game for Georgia (4-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) this season, but has 15 touchdowns passes and 12 interceptions. Turnovers have plagued the Bulldogs all season, and they now are minus-15 in the turnover ratio.

Richt might make a change before next Saturday's game against Tennessee Tech. The Bulldogs need to win at least two of their remaining four games to become bowl eligible.

They also lead the nation with 12 consecutive seasons with eight or more wins. But to keep that streak intact, they need to win every game down the stretch.

"We're going to regroup and get back on the winning track," Richt said. "I personally am dedicated to making sure we do that. I don't think we have anybody who is going to jump ship. All hands are going to stay on deck and we're going to keep fighting. Things don't always go the way you want in life and when they don't you've got to find out what you're made of."

Cox completed 11 of 20 passes for 165 yards, with two touchdowns. He hooked up with Aron White for a 26-yard score in the second quarter that cut Florida's lead to 14-10, then orchestrated a team-wide celebration on the sideline -- similar to the end-zone one that irked Florida in 2007.

"That was me," Cox said. "It felt like a good time to get everybody up and get everybody excited. The crowd got into it and I know it got us into it. We knew we could play with them the whole time and I thought we were going to run away with it after that."

Not quite.

The move fired up Florida, which scored the final 10 points of the first half and then put the game away with a turnover early in the third.

A.J. Jones deflected Cox's first pass of the second half and made a diving interception. The Gators scored three plays later to make it 31-10.

"Not a very good way to start the second half," Richt said.

Cox struggled the rest of the night.

"I lost the game with three picks," Cox said. "That score does not reflect how we played, how we moved the ball. I mean, it's the truth. Any time you turn the ball over that many times and give people chances to score, a good team is going to score and they did and that's why we got beat."

Now, his starting days might be over.

"There's only four games left in the regular season and there's no guarantee of a bowl," Richt said. "Will we play a game where we don't do things that hinders us being the very best we can be? I'm responsible for all of that. I'm responsible for keeping the turnovers and penalties down."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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