"I can't say we'll know at the end of spring," he said. "I hope we know by the end of two-a-days, but it might go down to the week of the game."
Junior Joe Tereshinski, redshirt freshman Blake Barnes, freshman Joe Cox and incoming freshman Matthew Stafford will be competing to replace senior D.J. Shockley. The battle will be the most visible this spring as the No. 8 Bulldogs (10-2) try to retool an offense that will lose Shockley, receiver Bryan McClendon and starting offensive linemen Max Jean-Gilles, Dennis Roland and the Russ Tanner/Ryan Schnetzer center rotation.
As exciting as the quarterback race is for the team's fans, it will be equally critical for the coaching staff. Richt has made it no secret during his tenure that he thinks quarterback play is the most crucial part of offense and can affect the entire team.
His hope is that one player clearly wins the job.
"I don't think we'll go alternating QBs on every other series," he said. "I'm not saying that's impossible. It could happen, but I'd just as soon have a starter, a solid guy who is No. 1 and at least one guy behind him we feel can do it."
Tereshinski, who started the Florida game in place of an injured Shockley, will enter spring practice as No. 1, Richt said.
"He's ahead of the pack, but even when he steps up there, that'll be a new sensation for him," Richt said. "We'll see how he reacts. We'll see how everybody reacts. It's going to be a different feeling for Blake Barnes, for Joe. Those guys have kind of been knowing what the deal is, and now nobody knows."
Here's a look at how the rest of the offense figures to look when Georgia begins defense of its 2005 SEC title.
There are a couple of wild cards, though. If the promising Ian Smith, a freshman who redshirted this year, develops quickly enough to start as a redshirt freshman, Jones can stay at his regular guard position, wher he started this year. Fernando Velasco is another option at guard. He played as a reserve in 2003 and 2004 and then redshirted this year due to an abundance of guards.
Michael Turner is a player Richt has been talking about for two years now, and next year will be his last chance to earn significant playing time. He's most likely to break the rotation at tackle but can play all three positions.
Lumpkin will be heading into his second year following reconstructive knee surgery, which typically is the time when a player gets back to full strength and full confidence. He was the team's strongest back to finish the season and a solid spring could give him back his starting position.
For now, Danny Ware appears to be mired in the third spot, but he said last week that he has no plans to. All three backs will be juniors next year, meaning they could be looking at two more seasons of sharing the carries.
"If I have to for two more years, I can definitely handle it," said Brown, who got the most this year with 138 for 658 yards.
The Bulldogs have enough bodies at wide receiver but there's still a question of how many of them can be playmakers. Freshman Mohamed Massaquoi is a star in the making, but it's all question marks after that.
Can Sean Bailey capitalize on his SEC Championship Game performance and become the reliable deep threat the team desperately needs, particularly after sitting out spring due to a knee injury? Can Kenneth Harris become the receiver his 6-foot-3, 210-pound body says he could be? Will sophomore A.J. Bryant finally get his confidence back and fulfill his huge potential? Massaquoi and Bailey probably will enter the spring as starters, with Harris a solid No. 3. There's the potential for movement, though.
This is the one offensive area where a true freshman could make an immediate difference for Georgia, but Kris Durham of Calhoun and Tony Wilson of Mainland, Fla., are the only two receivers who have committed to the team so far.
The Quarterbacks Player Size Career Stats Comment
RFreshman Blake Barnes 6-3, 223 2-of-3, 9 yards The longshot in the race
Freshman Joe Cox 6-1, 195 None Throws beautifully but smallest
Junior Joe Tereshinski 6-3, 221 25-of-49, 371 yards Experience a plus but no guarantee
Incoming Freshman Matthew Stafford 6-2, 212 None Hype is terrific; is Stafford?