D.J. Shockley exited the Georgia Tech game a year ago looking worlds away from being ready to succeed as Georgia's quarterback. He enters Saturday's game at Georgia Tech nearly on top of the world.
Shockley is the Southeastern Confer-ence's top-rated passer, and - under his watch - the 13th-ranked Bulldogs are headed to the league's title game.
"Georgia Tech is really the one game that I looked like I never played football before in my life," Shockley said Monday. "I always look at that game like, if there's any game I want to get better, it's against Georgia Tech. It was a rough game."
Rough enough for the boos to come down in a cold and rainy Sanford Stadium. Shockley filled in when starter David Greene left the game with an injured thumb and helped Georgia to a 16-0 lead, but he completed just 5 of 16 passes for 112 yards and was sacked four times.
The most extensive playing time of the backup's career ended when Greene returned to close out the 19-13 victory.
"It was a tough situation for him to come in that game last year," quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said. "He didn't play well, and we didn't play well as a whole team. I think that's something that really helped drive him this whole year. He wanted to prove that he could play and lead this team."
Shockley, a fifth-year senior, has done just that. During Senior Day festivities Saturday, the biggest ovation was for Shockley.
"I think the game against Tech wasn't really D.J. Shockley," coach Mark Richt said. "Before that game, he had some very good performances ... more times than not he played pretty well."
Georgia Tech's Chan Gailey said last year's game film will be worth watching but that the quarterback on tape isn't the same quarterback the No. 20 Yellow Jackets will see in person Saturday.
"I think we'll look at that and pay close attention to what we did," Gailey said, "but to me he's a totally different football player last year to this year."
Shockley has 18 touchdown passes and only four interceptions this season, is second in the SEC with 223.3 passing yards per game and 11th nationally in passing efficiency.
"I didn't play as well as I wanted to (last year)," Shockley said. "I've got another chance to go out and play well."
Reach Marc Weiszer at email@example.com.