Kirby Smart is accustomed at this point in his career to facing questions about his quarterback management. Whether it be from the early days of Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm to the 2021 season with Stetson Bennett and JT Daniels, Smart is used to answering tough questions about the most scrutinized position in sports.
So one would think, with Georgia looking for a new quarterback to replace Bennett, he’d be hearing it a lot this offseason. But winning back-to-back national championships seems to have quieted some of those skeptics when it comes to picking a new Georgia quarterback.
“It seems like I got it a lot more in years past,” Smart said of the quarterback position on Monday in a radio interview with 680 The Fan. “I’ll be honest with you, there’s lot of questions about everything. There were questions last year about our defense losing eight guys drafted. I don’t really listen to the questions.”
Smart specifically brought up his decision to ride with Bennett following the 2021 SEC Championship game. Instead of turning back to Daniels, Smart rode with Bennett after the 41-24 loss.
Bennett responded by playing the best game of his career to that point in an Orange Bowl win over Michigan. In the rematch against Alabama, Bennett came through and Georgia won its first national title since 1980.
“Nobody was more scrutinized and questioned after we lost the SEC Championship about JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett, and I stood firm on that,” Smart said. “It wouldn’t have mattered whether we won the next game or not, what mattered is, ‘Did we make the best decision for our team to win?’ Ultimately that’s what I’m trying to do. What gives our team the best chance to win?”
For the 2023 season, Smart will be deciding between Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton. Beck seems to have the leg up in the competition at this point in time, as he had the best performance in Georgia’s spring game. He’s also the most veteran option and the only one of the three to complete a pass for Georgia to this point.
But coming out of spring practice, Smart felt good about all three quarterback options. There’s a sincere belief that Georgia could win with all three quarterbacks.
Georgia will continue its quarterback battle into the summer and fall. Smart did not name a starter coming out of spring practice and hopes to see each of the three quarterbacks use the summer months to their advantage.
“They all will have the opportunity to throw with guys, the receivers. They’ll have throwing sessions, 7 on 7s; they’re used to doing that,” Smart said after G-Day. “Whether it’s Jake Fromm, all the way to Stetson (Bennett), all the guys we’ve had do that. That’s the leadership quality we hope that position possesses, the drive, the work ethic of the team.”
Georgia is expected to start fall camp in August and will open the season against UT-Martin on Sept. 2. The Bulldogs could well take the quarterback battle into the season, as Smart will want to exhaust all options in finding out which quarterback gives Georgia the best chance to win.
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