As Georgia inches closer to Saturday's season-opener at Oklahoma State, quarterback Joe Cox can sense the excitement beginning to grow.
Three seasons have passed since he last stepped on the field as a starter for the only time in his Bulldog career, a less-than-memorable effort against Ole Miss, a game Georgia struggled to win 14-9.
Cox didn't even get to finish the contest, giving way to then-freshman Matthew Stafford, relegating the North Carolina native to second-string status until finally getting his opportunity when Stafford left early for the NFL.
But that was a long time ago.
"This a totally different situation. That was three years ago and there was a lot of things I still didn't even know or wasn't sure about," said Cox, who hopes to take a job as a graduate assistant on the college level once this season is complete. "It's a totally different confidence situation, both for the team and obviously me. I don't think there are any similarities at all."
To Cox, that game seems eons ago.
"It really does because that was the last time I played that season, although I've played here and there the last two," he said. "It does seem like forever so there's absolutely nothing from that game for me to draw back from. It's totally different year, a totally different team."
An entire Bulldog Nation is anxious to see just how Cox will perform.
In limited playing time, the 6-foot-1, 198-pounder has completed 33 of 58 passes for 432 yards and five touchdowns.
Last year, Cox completed 11 of 15 throws for 151 yards and two scores.
Cowboys defensive end Jamie Blatnick has been impressed.
"The same way we prepare for a quarterback that we've seen play," Blatnick said. "Just watch what film we have on him and just don't underestimate him. He seems like he's a solid quarterback. He seems like he could run the ball, actually."
Cox chuckled when told what Blatnick had said.
"I think he might have got me confused with Logan (Gray). He might have seen a couple of clips that got sped up or something," Cox said. "I'm sure they've watched some of me, but I'm sure they've watched a lot of our offense, too. I doubt they've dug into the archives to find many Joe Cox highlights."
All joking aside, Cox has some serious goals that he hopes to achieve before his football career comes to an end.
"There are still a lot of things I want to accomplish," he said. "I want to win an SEC Championship really badly and whatever comes after that.
"That will be enough for me as far as football goes. I know I'm not going to play the sport for another year after this. I don't want to finish, train and then have somebody knock me about my size all over again. I just want to work hard; I still love being out here, I enjoy it and just want to be able to walk out happy about what I've done with my chances."
Head coach Mark Richt said he's 100 percent confident with Cox at the helm.
While he doesn't possess the same physical talent as his predecessor Stafford, Richt says Cox brings qualities to the position and to the team that are difficult to find.
"I don't compare Joe to Matthew because they're so different. They're different people but Joe has done a fantastic job of rallying the troops, he's a guy who has waited for his opportunity, practiced with enthusiasm and been a team guy all the way," Richt said. "He's a Georgia guy all the way. He's gained the respect of the coaches and players, so when he says something it's meaningful."
Cox said feels confident with the game-plan the offense has for the Cowboys Saturday afternoon.
"I feel really good about everything that we have in right now and everything that we're doing," Cox said. "We've got a good plan set and we've got the guys to execute it. I'm not worried about it."
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