Stafford to Start

Matthew Stafford

ATHENS – True freshman Matthew Stafford will start at quarterback for Georgia on Saturday, a decision that left former starter Joe Tereshinski solemn and a bit stunned.

"I don't think it's hit me all the way yet, but it hurts," said Tereshinski, the senior from Athens who has started three games for the Bulldogs.

Coach Mark Richt made the announcement Monday before his Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) held their first practice of the week. Georgia has started three quarterbacks this season and has yet to start the same one in three consecutive games.

"I've never played anything but quarterback, so I don't know how it feels to wonder who's going to be back there, but I'm sure (having a consistent starter) is going to help calm some nerves whether it's Joe T or whether it's me or anybody," said Stafford, who is the only Georgia quarterback to play in all seven games this year. "Just knowing early in the week, I'm sure it's reassuring."

Stafford has thrown for more yards than Tereshinski this season (582 to 423), but Tereshinski's numbers are superior in completion percentage (56.1 percent vs. 50.5 percent) and efficiency rating (128.83-98.05).

"I was given the job, and if I had made things happen, if we had won these last two ballgames, I wouldn't be sitting here," Tereshinski said.

Stafford also has four interceptions versus just one touchdown, although three of those turnovers came in the second week of the season against South Carolina. He was 9-for-13 passing for 86 yards in Saturday's 24-22 loss to Vanderbilt, and three of his passes were dropped.

"I'm just happy I'm getting a chance to get out there and help us try to win," he said. "That's the main thing on everybody's mind around here, not who's playing where."

Neither quarterback was told how they might rotate this week or the rest of the season, and Richt did not speak to the media Monday. He announced his decision to start Stafford through a school spokesman.

"I don't know exactly what I expect right now," Tereshinski said, "but I know I'm going to go out there and try my best every day."

Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom said SEC teams playing young, or inexperienced, quarterbacks are bound to struggle like his team and Georgia have this year.

"I totally understand what they're going through," Croom said. "I don't know all the details of what their situation is, nobody knows that but Mark and their coaches, but I do know this, in talking with guys who've been head coaches in this conference for a long time, when you're playing young quarterbacks – the situation they're in, the situation we're dealing with – (struggling) is more the norm than the exception."

Sophomore Michael Henig and freshman Tray Rutland, of Tri-Cities, are two of the three quarterbacks to have taken significant snaps this season for Mississippi State (2-5, 0-3 SEC).

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