Monken: ‘Right now it’s an open competition’ at quarterback

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Monken: ‘Right now it’s an open competition’ at quarterback

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) during the Bulldogs’ practice in Athens, Ga., on Wed., Aug. 26, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)
Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) during the Bulldogs’ practice in Athens, Ga., on Wed., Aug. 26, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

All eyes are currently on the competition between Georgia quarterbacks Jamie Newman and JT Daniels, and for good reason. Although, there are also three other scholarship signal callers that are contending for that starting job as well. Those other candidates include former four-star prospect and freshman Carson Beck, redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis and senior Stetson Bennett IV.

Georgia’s new offensive coordinator Todd Monken spoke to the media for the first time since being hired in January, and assured everyone that the competition is wide open.

“Right now, it’s an open competition,” Monken said. “We’re looking at all the players because they all have talent. We’re excited about getting to scrimmage this Saturday and seeing where we’re at.”

This is really the first quarterback battle the program has seen since head coach Kirby Smart arrived in Athens in 2016. That year, it was between senior Greyson Lambert and freshman Jacob Eason. Eason would end up winning the starting position and led the Bulldogs to an 8-5 record in Smart’s first season.

This season’s competition looks a lot different than that one in 2016. This year, Georgia’s quarterback room is deeper than ever, and features five scholarship quarterbacks that are all talented.

Newman, who signed with the program back in January, seems to be the clear favorite, but anything can happen in the next couple of weeks. He was the clear favorite until Daniels ended up in Athens in late May, which blindsided a lot of people. Newman and Daniels both have starting experience at their previous schools, but Monken admitted all of the guys bring a certain ‘moxie’ to the table.

“I really like our guys. We have a good number of players at that position. It’s been fun to be in the room, because they all vary. They’re different in terms of their personalities,” Monken said. “They all want to be really, really good players. They all want to work at it. There’s never an issue in terms of them understanding what they’re trying to get accomplished, offensively. Obviously the difficulty of not having spring ball, and not going through some of those practices—there are only so many things you can do in meetings without actually getting out there, and things they can do on their own.”

Monken will soon learn more about the competition on Saturday as the team will have its first scrimmage. This will be the first time players will suit up in full pads and actually get to hit one another.

Whoever wins the starting job will have to feature three specific traits: accuracy, mental toughness and athleticism.

“Because quarterbacks are as closely aligned with winning and losing as coaches, those guys have to handle the ups and downs of the position,” Monken said. “The next part is athleticism, the ability to move and extend plays. The game has become so much more [about] your athleticism. It’s hard to be a statue anymore and be consistently explosive and able to move the football.”

Monken also talked about what he liked in Bennett and Mathis.

“I’ve been impressed with both. Both are incredibly talented young players. Obviously, D’Wan last year missed part of the season, but with Carson coming in the spring, and being here and obviously was here for the bowl game, you can see a lot of things that that you like from Carson’s end of it, from his throwing and his athleticism; D’Wan, with his athleticism and his arm talent, as he continues to develop. They’ve been rotating like the other guys in terms of giving them an opportunity to compete for the job. So their future is really bright.”

Monken didn’t specifically mention Bennett, but Smart said two weeks ago in an interview that he’s coming along.

“Stetson [Bennett] is doing a great job and all of those guys are really competing,” Smart said on Aug. 14. “..,I think each one has come in—they all have individual strengths. It’s going to be important that we find out what each one of those individual strengths are, and weaknesses, and what we can improve over the next four or five weeks to figure out who the best guy for the job is.”

Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis (2) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Georgia quarterback D’Wan Mathis (2) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

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