As the season is now less than two weeks away, UGA’s quarterback competition is seeming like it will come down to the wire.
Georgia’s Kirby Smart met with the media on Tuesday via Zoom, and said the decision for a starter “will probably be a game-time decision” as the team prepares for its matchup with at Arkansas on Sept. 26.
“It’s getting to be a norm here,” Smart said. “We’ve had it before, so it’s not cause for concern among our staff, or our organization or our kids. We talk about it a lot with our players and make sure they understand where we are.”
The fifth-year head coach mentioned that the team had been rotating quarterbacks. Redshirt sophomore JT Daniels seems to be the clear favorite for the starting position, but Smart indicated that he hasn’t been cleared to play yet. The former Mater Dei (CA) standout had ACL surgery last September and a follow up procedure that occurred in January.
“If we didn’t think he was going to be cleared, then we wouldn’t be practicing him,” said Smart. “But he’s continuing to practice, so is D’Wan [Mathis], Carson [Beck] and Stetson [Bennett].”
Smart said last week that he thinks that Daniels should be cleared by the start of the season, but was asked today about Mathis getting most of the first team reps in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“It was part of the rotation, as far as each day, it just so happened they (boosters) were there that day,” Smart said. “Each day we’ve rotated guys that have gone with the ones, and that’s the day that his fell on. So for the most part, we’ve done a really good job for 16 practices, today being 17, that we’ve rolled. That doesn’t mean that we’ve got a different guy every day, but we’ve got a rotation, and that was just part of the rotation.”
Smart went on to add that this year’s quarterback competition is different than in the past with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken calling plays. It also helps that the Bulldogs have a deeper quarterback room than in season’s past.
“This year, it’s been a lot more calculated in terms of reps and a lot more calculated in what we do with each guy, and how we develop each guy,” Smart said.“They’re all in different stages of their careers, and they’re all getting better. I would argue that we have a talented quarterback room in terms of depth. The important thing is getting the right one to lead this group.”
Coming into Smart’s first year in 2016, the quarterback battle was between senior Greyson Lambert and five-star freshman Jacob Eason. Eason won the starting job in 2016 and beat out freshman five-star Jake Fromm before the start of the 2017 season. Then, Eason got injured early in Georgia’s season opener against Appalachian State and that’s when Jake Fromm took over. Fromm went ahead and won the starting job in 2018 over five-star Justin Fields. and was the starting quarterback through the 2019 season.
Now, as Wake Forest grad transfer Jamie Newman is out of the picture, the main competition is between Daniels and Mathis. Although, Beck appeared to have a great performance Saturday in the team’s last preseason scrimmage.
Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was in attendance and said Beck was the most impressive.
“I thought to me the guy that looked the best of all the quarterbacks yesterday was Carson Beck,” said Murray. “Big, strong arm, he, just like D’Wan, made plays inside and outside the pocket. So he’s someone I’m interested in watching these next couple of years, how his development takes off within the system”
Nevertheless, Smart made it very clear that he and Monken are still evaluating the competition.
“You learn what each one wants, what each one commands, and you try to figure out what gives you the best chance to win and the best chance to score points,” Smart said. “There are some similarities between all of them, all the competitions and the decision-making process.