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Joe T. likely to start Tenn. game

It's early in the week, but Joe Tereshinski likes what he's hearing.

Georgia coach Mark Richt already has said he wouldn't be surprised if the senior quarterback returns from a sprained ankle and starts against Tennessee on

Saturday.

"That gives me a lot of confidence," Tereshinski said. "That makes me want to work that much more. Having that said, it does put a lot of pressure on you, knowing you have to come in here and lead a team that's now 5-0. I couldn't ask for anything more right now."

Tereshinski has only been able to watch as the Bulldogs have struggled offensively in his absence the past three games. He hasn't played since spraining his right ankle on the first series of an 18-0 victory over South Carolina on Sept. 9, but the Bulldogs have remained undefeated and are No. 10 in the AP poll.

Now, nearly one month later, Tereshinski is nearing his stated goal of returning to the lineup in time to face Tennessee. Freshman quarterback Matthew Stafford said Tereshinski took about 75-80 percent of the snaps with the first team on Monday, and Tereshinski said he "felt comfortable" with his drops and delivering the ball.

If he starts, or even plays against Tennessee, he'll be looking to energize an offense that's 89th in Division I-A in total offense.

"I need to do what I did those first two games, which is prepare a lot, make sure I know my checks and get it to the playmakers," he said. "We've got a lot of potential. Everyone is going to push a little bit harder this week because we know we haven't reached our full potential yet, so everyone's going to kick it up."

Said Richt: "I thought Joe looked good. He looked real comfortable. I thought he had a good practice."

Even though Tereshinski struggled before the injury (9 of 20, 105 yards), Richt said he might provide a soothing affect to an offense that's operated with three starting quarterbacks in five games.

"He's a veteran," Richt said. "Stafford may have more playing time, now, right this second. (Tereshinski) is a senior. He's a veteran. I think he really understands what we're doing and why. He's got a lot of cumulative reps on just about everything in our offense. Whether it's been game or practice, I think that will help him out."

Stafford, who has played better coming off the bench, also worked with the first team on Monday.

Richt could rotate Tereshinski and Stafford, something that Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer did the past two seasons. In 2004, he started the year with a rotation of Eric Ainge and Brent Schaeffer. Last year, Ainge and Rick Clausen shared snaps, with Ainge starting five games and playing in three

others.

The starting job belongs to Ainge this year, and he's flourished. Ainge is fifth in Division I-A in passing efficiency and has thrown for 1,389 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Rotating quarterbacks is a difficult balancing act, Fulmer warned.

"It's their job to make you happy, not necessarily our job to make them happy," he said on his Sunday teleconference. "The problem is how your team looks at it. There's emotion and all sort of things that surround that position.

"Mark (Richt) is very capable of making his own decisions. He's been a quarterback himself, and a quarterback coach, so he's very qualified to make his own decisions. He doesn't need my help."