Kirby Smart: ‘I think the No. 1 thing is accuracy.’

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Kirby Smart: ‘I think the No. 1 thing is accuracy.’

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) during the Bulldogs' game with Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Photo by Sean Brock)
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) during the Bulldogs’ game with Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (Photo by Sean Brock)

One of the main concerns for Georgia heading into its matchup against Missouri this upcoming Saturday is who will be the starting quarterback.

The Bulldogs have a few options, even though they aren’t the best at the moment.

Georgia’s Stetson Bennett has started every game since Auburn on Oct. 3 but is dealing with an AC joint sprain. Although he played through the pain for two quarters this past Saturday against Florida, his performance wasn’t one to brag about. Bennett was replaced by backup D’wan Mathis, who didn’t fare well either against the Gators.

The two combined by completing nine of 29 passes for 112 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. This was against a Florida secondary that ranked No. 12 in the SEC in passing that gave up an average of 300 yards per game.

The many problems Georgia’ss offense has faced over the last couple of weeks stems from the incompetent quarterback play.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said on Monday that the inaccuracy of the quarterbacks is causing the offense to suffer.

“I think the number one thing is accuracy.  It’s not that we protect the quarterback better, it’s accuracy in terms of completion percentage, getting open receivers,” Smart said. “We always say you have to make your layups and that’s the most disappointing thing about the last couple of games is the accuracy and the ability to hit the open guys and defensively, not giving gifts away.”

In the past three games, Georgia quarterbacks have thrown eight interceptions and missed a lot of open receivers.

“So how do you improve that?  You have to improve your accuracy,” Smart said. “You have to improve, number one when a guy gets the chance to catch a ball, catch it, but when you have him open you can’t overthrow him. We missed out on some opportunities there.  A lot of that can be held to a good run game, which we have shown the ability at times to run the ball on some hard boxes. Missouri gives you hard boxes almost every single snap.  It’s one of those challenges that we have to improve on.”

Against Florida, both Bennett and Mathis missed several open guys downfield. Several receivers, like Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers and Demetris Robertson, all had balls that were either overthrown. Then there were a few dropped passes that led to negative results, especially the pass that tight end John FitzPatrick dropped.

“It was just one of those days where we couldn’t complete balls, so it’s something we have to work on,” said Jackson. “Has it been a problem all season? No, we do our thing in practice. We just have to transfer it over to the games.”

Smart said that the passing game just isn’t quite there yet.

“I do feel like we’ve gotten open more this year—whether that’s by alignment, assignment, the level of competition,” Smart said. “We’ve gotten open, and we’ve missed some, but we’ve hit some. I think we’ve improved in the passing game. We just haven’t reaped the benefits of it; we’re not accurate enough. We don’t hit enough open guys.”

Georgia could be starting a new quarterback Saturday if Bennett is not available. Throughout this week, Mathis, USC transfer JT Daniels and freshman Carson Beck will be competing in practice for that starting position.

“Stetson is day-to-day with a right shoulder AC sprain,” Smart said.  “So we don’t know.  He is going to find out today if he is going to be able to go out there and throw. It’s one of those deals that we don’t know how effective he’s going to be- whether he’s going to require another shot to do it.  We are going to get all three of those guys (D’Wan Mathis, JT Daniels, and Carson Beck) ready. And the one who does the best job will be ready to plan and if Stetson is ready to play and he does the best job.”

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Currently an intern for BI, and a junior journalism major at the University of Georgia.