Tereshinski not worried about fan reaction

ATHENS – Since being named Georgia's starting quarterback seven days ago, Joe Tereshinski hasn't paid much attention to the fan's reaction to his selection.

"Every spare moment you get, you're working out, going to class, eating, sleeping or over here studying film," he said, "so you don't really get a chance to look at the outside too much."

In seven more days, he won't be able to ignore it any longer. The No. 15 Bulldogs open the 2006 season by playing Western Kentucky at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Sanford Stadium, and Tereshinski will be facing more than 90,000 fans who had no say in picking Georgia's quarterback but will vote with their voices come game time.

"They're going to be booing you one minute and cheering you the next," quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo said. "I've talked to him about that since Day 1, ‘Everybody is going to love the backup quarterback Joe.'"

Bobo knows as well as anybody. He started at quarterback for the Bulldogs in 1995, 1996 and 1997. It was three topsy-turvy years for the program, and Bobo's approval rating rose and fell right along with Georgia's record.

Tereshinski, a senior, will have it even worse. While Bobo was backed up by a mostly unmemorable cast, Tereshinski took the job from three players who were considered top 10 national recruits when they came to Athens.

"People want to knock him because he was not this in recruiting or not that," Bobo said. "He was not labeled a can't-miss guy coming out of high school, but the guy's performed well."

Now, fairly or not, Tereshinski has to perform well in Sanford Stadium to validate his selection to all the arm-chair coaches who expected one of the more highly touted players to win the job. A touchdown pass on the opening drive might buy him some support. An interception, and the boo-birds will start warming up.

None of that is news to Tereshinski, who has completed 25-of-49 passes for 371 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown in his career.

"You have to know that if you don't play well, that's going to happen," he said. "You can only control so much and people's feelings are one of those things you can't."

Tereshinski's father played at Georgia and has been on the coaching staff in some capacity since 1982, so the quarterback understands what comes with the territory.

"I think Joe is a very strong individual," Bobo said. "I think he'll be well-prepared for that. The bottom line is you have to please your teammates and your coaches. You can't get caught up in what the fans or the media is saying, whether it's good or bad."

When Joe Cox's turn comes to relieve Tereshinski, he'll fight the same battle. And he'll approach it with the same attitude.

"The only people that matter are the people who make the decisions," Cox said. "That's just something that people have to deal with, the decision that was made. I'm not going to approach it any differently or think about what the fans are going to think, I'm just going to go do what I do."

Bobo is hopeful Georgia's fan base will support whoever is on the field, but he knows from experience a warm embrace can turn into a hot seat at the flick of a wrist.

"Fans are just being fans," he said. "They are going to get upset if we don't score every time, and the brunt of it is going to go on the quarterback and the coach."


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