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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Media Day Notes (12/17)

Matthew Stafford said he discussed his potential future in the NFL with fellow quarterback Joe Cox on a few occasions, but he swears Cox has never tried to convince him to leave early.

Both quarterbacks are juniors, and while Cox battled for the starting job early in his career, the snaps have nearly all belonged to Stafford for the past two seasons.

While Stafford said he still hasn't reached any decision on whether he will leave Georgia after the season to enter the NFL draft, he said he is certain the offense will be in good hands with Cox should the job open up.

"We see it every day in practice," Stafford said. "The guy's got a bunch of skill, he's a really accurate passer, and I think he could run this offense just fine."

Cox has thrown just 15 passes this season, but he has completed 11 of them, including two for touchdowns, but never complained about a lack of playing time.

"He doesn't want to play as something to console him," Richt said. "He's like, 'If I deserve to play, then I'll play. If you guys think Matt's better, then play Matt.'"

Richt compared Cox to former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley, who spent four years on the bench behind incumbent starter David Greene, but immediately commanded the respect of his teammates once he assumed the starter's job after Greene's graduation.

"He's got some similarities to Shockley in that he has the ability to become a leader without being a starter," Richt said. "Guys know him and respect him, they've seen him practice and play, and they believe in Joe."

-- While rumors spread quickly throughout the past few days that new Auburn head coach Gene Chizik would like to raid Georgia's coaching staff to fill assistant jobs with the Tigers, Richt said Wednesday he had not been contacted by the school for permission to talk to any of his coaches.

Offensive line coach Stacy Searels and defensive line coach Rodney Garner are both Auburn alums and have been rumored for jobs with the Tigers, but Richt said he was confident he would be informed if either coach was interviewing elsewhere.

"They have not (been in contact), but I wouldn't doubt it happening," Richt said. "Who wouldn't want to talk to those guys. Just our staff in general, it's not shocking to have anyone want to talk to your coaching staff."

Garner interviewed for the Auburn head coaching vacancy before Chizik was hired. Running backs coach Tony Ball interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy at Chattanooga, but he is not among the three finalists for that position, Richt said.

-- Like Stafford, junior cornerback Asher Allen hasn't made up his mind whether he'll head to the NFL a year early, and he said he likely won't have a final decision until close to the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare their eligibility.

Allen said he has already begun receiving letters from potential agents hoping to represent him, however, and he has turned in paperwork to the NFL advisory committee/ He hopes the committee wil provide him with some good news about his potential draft stock which he said will need to be impressive for him to leave school early.

"I would say second and up would be reasonable," Allen said. "But overall, it's just a projection, and you can only use those as just a resource."

-- Impressive NFL scouts this season didn't come easily to Allen, who broke his hand against LSU in October, but didn't reveal the injury to the public in hopes of keeping other teams from exploiting it.

"The third of the year, I just had to use my quickness more than anything," Allen said. "I knew I couldn't be as physical as I normally am, but I don't think it hurt that much."

There were only a handful of plays including a run by Auburn's Ben Tate that Allen said the injury affected his ability to tackle or make a play on a ball, but the little thing often became a bit more difficult due to the injury.

"There was like two or three times every game where I would just bang it, and I would just have a glazed look and would have to be like, 'OK, come on,'" Allen said. "You do things without thinking, and you're so used to using your hand, and then you remember that you hurt it when you're falling and catch yourself and say, 'Oh, man.'"

Allen said the hand is healing well, however, and he expects to be 100 percent by the bowl game on Jan. 1.

"It's feeling good. It's a little weak, but I'm getting it back to normal. The wrist is a little weak, but it'll be back to normal for the game, most definitely."

-- Georgia finished up with finals Tuesday, and while the grades aren't all in yet, Richt said he was not aware of any players who would be academically ineligible for the Bulldogs' bowl game against Michigan State.

"Right now, there's been no alarms set off," Richt said. "Everything that has poured in so far, which is not a lot, has been good. There's always some surprises at the end, but we're in good shape."

-- Stafford is widely projected to be the first quarterback selected in the NFL draft should he forego his final season of college eligibility, but he has yet to meet with last year's top quarterback taken, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.

Stafford did say that teammate Drew Butler lives near Ryan and was told that Ryan hoped the two could meet.

"Butler told me that Matt wanted to play some golf, so if he wants to play golf, hit me up, Matt," Stafford joked. "I'll play Sugarloaf whenever."


BCS-Sucks said...


The AJC has an article today saying Stafford/Moreno/Allen have requested draft evaluations. But the article doesn't mention Owens. Has he submitted a request? Will he by the Friday deadline (for guaranteed evaluations)? If he doesn't, can we interpret that to mean he's coming back?

(And see my Tulsa World article link in your Wednesday links post from this morning. What do you make of Archie Manning telling the Staffords that Staffy should stay?)

David Hale said...

Thanks for the link. I'm planning to post it tomorrow morning for other readers, but I think it speaks to the big-picture issue regarding Stafford: Yes, millions await him in the NFL. But those millions will be there next year, too, and the history of junior QBs who enter the draft is not just bad, but frighteningly bad. Stafford's family is not in desperate need of the money, and I think he's a smart kid who understands that greatness in the NFL is far harder to earn than money in the NFL. Is there still a good chance he'll leave? Yeah, probably better than 50/50, but when he says he hasn't made up his mind, I believe him. And if he comes back, I won't be surprised.

As for Owens, don't read anything into that. Richt confirmed Stafford and Moreno, and Asher confirmed he submitted papers -- but no one asked about Owens. Richt did, however, say that "there were others" besides Stafford and Moreno, which to me probably means Allen, Owens and Atkins.

Geno seems intent on coming back, but is doing his due diligence. Owens is probably in the same boat. I'll speak with him later this week and give you his first-hand account though.

BCS-Sucks said...

Good deal. Great info. Thanks, and keep up the great work, D.