ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia is 22nd among public universities in total research expenditures, but no grant money or a Ph.D., for that matter, is needed to determine quarterback D.J. Shockley's value to the ninth-ranked Bulldogs, who eagerly await his return to the starting lineup Saturday against No. 15 Auburn.
The empirical evidence was clear as the Bulldogs' offense limped along with Shockley sidelined for the past six quarters.
The senior quarterback missed the second half of a 23-20 win over Arkansas on Oct. 22 and all of a 14-10 loss to Florida on Oct. 29.
With Shockley out with a sprained left knee, Georgia mustered a mere 40 yards in the second half against the Razorbacks and amassed just 286 against Florida.
"If Shockley would've played against Florida, I don't know if that game ever would've been in question," Auburn defensive coordinator David Gibbs said.
Georgia's offense was humming heading into the Arkansas game. The Bulldogs led the Southeastern Conference and were 18th nationally in total offense (454 yards per game) and were 29th in the nation in scoring offense (32.2).
Georgia has slipped to 40th in total offense (403.4) and 52nd in scoring (28.3).
"Our offense, going into the Arkansas game, we were pretty much probably No. 1 or 2 in most every offensive category in our league and nationally very respectable," coach Mark Richt said.
"We definitely appreciate the job that he's done to this point, and hopefully he'll get right back in the groove.
"I really did feel like he was about as comfortable as I've seen in the first quarter of the Arkansas game, and hopefully he'll feel that way coming into this game."
Shockley will wear a brace on his knee Saturday, but he doesn't expect it to keep him from being the old Shockley.
"It felt like I was almost 100 percent running around and doing a little cutting," Shockley said after practice Wednesday. "Each day, it's getting better and better, and today felt the best out of all the days."
Shockley, one of 12 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award for the nation's top player, has 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He still leads the SEC and is 11th nationally in passing efficiency and paces all SEC quarterbacks with 215 rushing yards.
"I have no doubt that when Saturday comes I'll be completely ready to go," Shockley said. "There's no doubt in my mind about what I can do when I get on the field. I have no doubt in my mind that I can continue what we did before I got hurt."
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said Shockley needs to play with the same mind-set he did before the injury.
"He's got to go out and play 100 percent and he's got to play like D.J.," Bobo said. "He can't come out and play like somebody else. I think he's going to be 100 percent or real close to it. He can't play cautious. He's got to play his style of game."
That means using his mobility to scramble to make big plays when others might not.
"He brings another aspect to the game," Georgia offensive guard Max Jean-Gilles said. "Defenses respect him because they know he's a threat to them."
Said Bobo: "What he brings is his ability to give you a chance on every play. If something bad happens or if something breaks down, he can make a play. We missed that but we missed his leadership.The guys have responded to him and played well around him. He's done a great job of leading more than anything. Hopefully, his coming back Saturday will be the big boost."
What the numbers don't tell you about Shockley his teammates will.
"On the field, he's unbelievable," center Russ Tanner said.
"Just the leadership he has and the confidence he instills on everybody around him is probably the biggest factor he's bringing back."
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