James Cook, a back who could bring success in the Sugar Bowl

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James Cook, a back who could bring success in the Sugar Bowl

UGA running back James Cook (6), Georgia vs. Tennessee September 29, 2018
UGA running back James Cook (6), Georgia vs. Tennessee September 29, 2018

This season Georgia’s offense hasn’t been the juggernaut that everyone expected them to be, and if you ask most fans, they would say they’re more than disappointed.

Some would compare the Bulldogs’ offense to broken record on repeat or a fly that can’t seem to realize it keeps bumping into the glass, but one thing is for sure, and that there’s time for them to gain a little momentum going into the offseason.

The Georgia Bulldogs take on the Baylor Bears in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1st, 2020. This will be the final time the 2019 Georgia offense will take the field, and it’s an opportunity where they can flip the script on their offensive woes and end on a positive note going into spring practice.





If you were to ask those same fans who were disappointed about the lack of offensive production, they would say a lot of different things. Some would blame offensive coordinator James Coley for his play-calling abilities, some would blame Jake Fromm’s inconsistencies, and others would moan about several key playmakers who aren’t being used for their skillsets.

One player that seems to have not been utilized a lot this year is sophomore running back James Cook, and head coach Kirby Smart has said on more than occasion that he agrees.

“On a lot of plays…  there’s options, that he’s the guy or another guy is the option, and lot of them just haven’t gone his way because defenses are dictating that ‘I don’t want him to have the ball, I want the other person to have the ball,’ “ Smart said earlier this season in a press conference.





“In the world of football every play has three plays on it, and the average fan watches and says, “Oh, D’Andre Swift has got the ball,’ well that play could have been D’Andre, or it could have been James or it could have been (Lawrence) Cager, and a lot of it is based on what the defense does.”

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Cook has played in all 12 games this season and has started three of them. He has 153 yards on 23 carries (6.7 avg.), with two touchdowns. He also has 121 yards receiving on 15 catches. His first rushing touchdown of the season came against Arkansas State on a 37-yard run.

Against Georgia Tech two weeks ago, Cook carried the ball four times for 30 yards (7.5 avg.) and had two receptions for 34 yards. As the season progressed Cook’s role has been more important, but he still isn’t getting the looks he deserves. And many message boards have been buzzing for the last couple months wondering if he would transfer due to this.

“It hasn’t been frustrating,” Cook said after the Georgia Tech game. “There are older guys that I can look up to and learn from. I have to wait my turn, and it’s going to be good.”

Cook’s patience is well appreciated to the coaching staff, but his opportunity could come sooner rather than next season.

D’Andre Swift was injured in the game against Georgia Tech and played banged up this past Saturday against LSU. Swift admitted after the game that he was in more pain than normal and had it not been the SEC Championship Game, he wouldn’t have played. Swift has not announced if he will play in the Sugar Bowl and many project him to declare early for the NFL draft.  

Regardless, this could be an opportunity for Cook to finally get the shot he deserves.

“I love James Cook, man. James Cook is a warrior. He works his butt off. Doesn’t cry, doesn’t whine, doesn’t talk about not getting the ball,” Smart said. “He just plays on special teams, and when you get him the ball, he usually does good things with it. We’ve got to keep trying to find ways to use James.”

Kirby Smart – Georgia vs. Georgia Tech Postgame Presser: Saturday, November 30, 2019

Cook knows the hard work will pay off someday.

“It’s been a good experience,” Cook said. “I’ve just got to keep working and keep working. I know I’m going to get my chance.”





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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.