ATHENS — Carson Beck hasn’t put forth the biggest statistical season to this point. He’s thrown just 7 touchdown passes on the season. By comparison, USC quarterback Caleb Williams threw 6 alone last week against Colorado.
But the Georgia quarterback continues to gain admirers, especially with his play this past Saturday against Auburn. Beck completed 23 of his 33 pass attempts for 313 yards. Beck overcame a first-half interception to play a strong second half. His final pass attempt of the game was a 40-yard touchdown pass to Brock Bowers, which proved to be the difference in the 27-20 Georgia win.
Beck has gained a few national media admirers, with Heather Dinich and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN praising Beck’s play.
“He got it done when it mattered the most. Beck is maturing as expected in his first season as the starter, and he helped navigate the Bulldogs to their first road win of the season,” Dinich said. “He showed poise, there were no pre-snap penalties, and he was 8-of-10 for 115 yards on third down. Clutch.”
This was Beck’s first-ever road start. The Georgia quarterback will have another first this week as Georgia takes on No. 20 Kentucky in Georgia’s first-ranked matchup of the season.
It will be another chance for Beck to show on a national stage that he’s more than capable of leading the No. 1 ranked Georgia football team.
“You can’t judge Beck based on the historic standard set by the previous two Georgia teams,” Rittenberg said. “I agree Auburn was a big moment for him, as he avoided a sack but was pressured by Jalen McLeod and others and held his ground. A defensive coordinator who faced Georgia told me the goal was to try to limit the Bulldogs’ screen game and make Beck work from the pocket. “He stood in there and delivered the ball,” the coach said. “It’s tough to get to him in protection, especially with four [rushers]. They sit there and lock you out.”
Beck is completing 72 percent of his passes on the season to this point and has thrown only 2 interceptions. Georgia’s offense has had to overcome some slow starts — the Bulldogs have only 17 first-quarter points on the season — but Beck and the offense have gotten better as the game has progressed.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has backed Beck every step of the way this season and that patience by the Georgia coach seems to have paid off for the Bulldogs.
“I felt like I had this relationship where I knew Carson so I don’t feel like I’ve learned a lot. I knew a lot,” Smart said. “He had been in the system. He had played. He had not played in that environment, I’m not trying to exchange experience, but I had been around the kid, he had been in the program, he had been in the offense, I had seen him have good days on third down against our defense, seen him have bad days, seen him make really good decisions with the ball, he’s efficient. I guess the only thing I’ve learned is he does have natural composure, but I already thought that. That’s the way he practices. He doesn’t get flustered very easily.”
Beck did benefit from the return of wide receiver Ladd McConkey, who quickly showed he is a reliable third-down option. Pairing him with the always-excellent Brock Bowers should give the Georgia offense some more juice as it heads into the toughest stretch of games.
Kentucky is one of four ranked teams on Georgia’s schedule at this point in the season. Saturday’s game is set for a 7 p.m. ET start, with ESPN broadcasting the game.