Tereshinski's day arrives

ATHENS – Joe Tereshinski advances to graduate school today.

He's been in Athens four years, and, other than a spot start, his only significant work has been in the classroom and on the practice field.

"You get to a certain point in your career where you really can't progress as a quarterback if you're not playing in a game," Coach Mark Richt said. "You've got to play and live it out."

Tereshinski, who was named Georgia's No. 1 quarterback two weeks ago, will start for the No. 15 Bulldogs against Western Kentucky today at 12:30 p.m.

"He's earned the opportunity, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does," Richt said. "I think he'll do very well. He's a great preparation guy and usually the better you prepare, the more confident you are. He's been waiting a long time for this opportunity, and I think he'll do well."

Backup Joe Cox, a redshirt freshman, is expected to see some action today, but Tereshinski will get every chance to prove he's the right person for the job. The third-generation Bulldog was named the starter chiefly by managing situations – both good and bad – in practices and scrimmages.

"I always have an expression for the quarterbacks -- don't turn a bad play into a catastrophe," Richt said. "If you do the things we ask you, you will probably throw to the right guy 90 percent of the time. If you progress properly and know your sight and blitz pickups, you're going to have a pretty doggone good career if you can hit your target.

"But there are times when it breaks down. What are you going to do now? Are you going to throw that thing up for grabs trying to be a hero 15-yard sack or are you going to manage that situation and throw the ball out of bounds or step up and take a 3-yard sack instead of a 15-yard sack."

No one expects Tereshinski to panic.

"I expect him to be calm," senior tight end Martrez Milner, "and I expect him to be leading the offense the way he has the last four weeks."

The question Tereshinski has to answer today is in his physical talents. Western Kentucky is an ideal opponent to open against in that regard, a Division I-AA team that finished 100th in passing defense in its division last year.

The Hilltoppers will be Georgia's sixth all-time game against a Division I-AA opponent and its first since the 2004 season-opener against Georgia Southern. The Bulldogs have won the previous five games by an average score of 41-10, but Richt is trying his best to talk-up the Hilltoppers, who won the 1-AA national title in 2002.

"I've said it many time, I'd rather play a Division I-A team that doesn't know how to win as opposed to a I-AA team that does know how to win," Richt said. "Winners are tough to beat."

Western Kentucky was ranked No. 1 in Division I-AA as late as its seventh game last year but lost four straight to end the season and finish 6-5. Hilltopper coach David Elson said his team will attempt to approach this game like any other on its schedule, the key word being attempt.

"The thing I have to keep doing is convincing the players that it's just another game," Elson said. "We're fighting two things, it's the season-opener and we're playing at Georgia in front of 92,000 people, which you don't see a lot at this level. Young guys gets so much adrenaline going and they think they have to put forth some type of super-human effort and they forget to step in the right direction and the fundamental things."


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