The competition to be the Bulldogs’ starter in 2006 is a marathon, Coach Mark Richt has insisted again and again, and that pace suits the four players just fine.
They’re not really sprint guys, anyway From senior Joe Tereshinski III, the most intense of the bunch, to true freshman Matthew Stafford, whose pulse can be taken with a sundial, they’re a relatively low-maintenance, low-stress group.
“Overall, they’re all pretty laid back,” quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said.
In fact, their one common interest off the field is the least stressful of all hobbies, fishing.
“We don’t want to get hurt, and it’s relaxing,” Stafford said.
Georgia has four more spring practices, starting Monday with its second scrimmage and ending with Saturday’s annual G-Day game at noon in Sanford Stadium. Stafford and sophomore Blake Barnes each will get a chance to work with the No. 1 offense in the remaining scrimmages since redshirt freshman Joe Cox had the honors in the first scrimmage.
Beyond that, Georgia will stick with its normal schedule of working Tereshinski exclusively with the first-team offense and rotating the other three on a daily basis to join him.
“Every single day there seems to be somebody new who is stepping up and taking advantage of the day,” Tereshinski said. “All of us are biting at the bit and doing the best that we’re capable of doing.”
Richt and Bobo have staunchly offered no hints about who’s making progress in the race or who is slipping out of contention. That’s because, they insist, they aren’t even allowing themselves to think in those terms.
“Our goal (coming into spring) was not even to try to narrow it down as much as to get everybody as much exposure to what we’re doing as possible,” Richt said. “I don’t think anything has changed in my mind or Mike’s mind.”
It would be unfair to judge the quarterbacks since they are all getting a relatively small number of repetitions because the team is rotating all four of them, Richt said.
“I don’t know who is No. 1 or who is No. 2,” wide receiver Mario Raley said. “It seems like it’s real competitive because they roll them in and out so much. I don’t really know who’s going to start.”
Tereshinski is the team’s honorary No. 1 and has had the best practices of his career in the last eight 11 workouts, Richt said. Stafford is the hotshot newcomer from Dallas, Texas, and he has been very impressive since enrolling early. Barnes, the forgotten man in the race, has had good and bad moments and hasn’t been singled out for good play by coaches as much as Tereshinski and Stafford.
The most intriguing of the choices may be Cox. He’s the shortest of the four quarterbacks and his arm strength doesn’t compare to Stafford’s, but he’s the most accurate of the group, Bobo said. The reason that’s so important is throwing accuracy is the most critical element of Richt’s offensive system.
“The bottom line is you’ve got to put the ball on the money,” Bobo said.
The three most important elements of a quarterback for Richt are accuracy, good decision-making and the ability to handle the pressure of the job, Richt said.
“If you can’t hit your target, then it’s hard to be the guy,” he said. “If you’re tremendously accurate and you make a bunch of bone-head decisions, then you’re probably not going to play. And then, if you’ve got those things and it comes to the moment of truth, in front of 80-whatever thousand, or on national TV or the first time everybody thinks you’re a bum and you fold up your tent, then you’re probably not going to be the man very long.”
It’s hard to determine all those things in 15 spring workouts, Richt said.
“It may even roll into a little of the season before you can really be sure because when you get to the point of who you think it is, and he’s the man, how will he handle being that guy?” Richt said. “It’s just hard to say when it will finally settle.”