Who'll be lead Dawg?

It seems that three-fourths of the teams in the Southeastern Conference have unsettled situations at quarterback heading into the 2006 football season. No one's situation is more unsettled, however, than the Georgia Bulldogs'.

Head coach Mark Richt spent all spring seeking a successor to D.J. Shockley, and he's still looking. A career backup, Shockley stepped into the starting role in 2005, guided Georgia to the league title and earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year recognition in the process.

Do the Dawgs have a suitable replacement?

"I'm pretty confident that we have at least one," Richt said during SEC Media Days in Birmingham. "I think we have MORE THAN ONE guy that can get the job done. Now the job is to find out who that is and make sure that he's ready to help us win."

There are four candidates for the QB job – senior Joe Tereshinski, sophomore Blake Barnes, redshirt freshman Joe Cox and true freshman Matthew Stafford. All competed in spring practice but none separated himself.

Tereshinski played in all 13 games as a backup last year, completing 25 of 49 passes (51 percent) for 371 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. He started one game while Shockley was injured, generating just one TD in a 14-10 loss to Florida. The other three quarterback candidates have never seen meaningful action in a college game.

Because his four QBs have so little experience, Richt wanted them to concentrate on learning, rather than competing, during spring practice. That's why he never listed one guy ahead of the others.

"I didn't try to move the depth chart in the spring," he said.

Obviously, the Bulldogs can't divide their preseason practice snaps among four quarterbacks for very long. Richt vows to whittle the field quickly.

"I'm hoping within the first few practices we'll get this thing narrowed down to a couple of guys rolling into that first ball game," the coach said.

The smart money is on Tereshinski and the immensely gifted Stafford to emerge as the top two options. Odds are Tereshinski's experience will enable him to start Game 1 (Western Kentucky) and Game 2 (at South Carolina). But don't be surprised if Stafford claims the first-team job in time for Games 3 (UAB), 4 (Colorado) and 5 (at Ole Miss).

If Richt has a quarterback plan in mind, he's keeping it a secret.

"That's something I'm not nervous about, but I'm curious about," the coach said. "A lot of people think I know who that guy is already. I don't."

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