(This is the first of a two-part story on Carson Beck’s post-spring thoughts. The Georgia QB shared feelings from his challenges with the Bulldogs and explained how it plays into who he is and his hopes for the future)
ATHENS — Carson Beck said this week “it feels good to be in the position I am now” after it was suggested to him that Kirby Smart has tossed him the keys to the offense.
But Beck followed up by saying he won’t allow himself to get too comfortable with the notion that he is Georgia’s No. 1 quarterback entering the 2023 season.
After all, there has been no announcement on the starting quarterback duties, and Beck is aware that Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton remain in competition.
Recent Heisman Trophy odds installed Beck as the betting favorite to lead the Bulldogs on the heels of his 13-of-18, 211-yard passing performance in the G-Day Game leading the first-team offense.
Beck, who all-time SEC leading passer Aaron Murray identified as having the best arm talent on the team three years ago, had looked just as good in the 2021 spring game. Beck was 22-of-31passing for 236 yards with 2 TDs and an interception against the second team, showing great command of the offense.
There was just one problem: Beck said he knew no matter what he did last year, former offensive coordinator Todd Monken was not going to elevate him over a healthy Stetson Bennett.
Beck revealed in a podcast this week how his past frustrations tempted him to transfer out of the Bulldogs’ program during the 2022 spring session.
Georgia fans had speculated on as much, but Beck had previously not publicly verified how shaken he once was in the program.
Beck’s interview this week with the YouTube channel called “Footballville” might have been as therapeutic for him as it was profitable.
The Georgia quarterback position was settled once Caleb Williams rejected Georgia’s transfer portal overtures and Bennett announced he was coming back.
“I was frustrated, and going into that third year after Stetson won the national championship, he’s going to start again,” Beck shared. “There’s literally nothing I could do.
“Name (the) best college quarterback you’ve ever seen play, and I could do that in spring and fall camp, and I don’t think I would have started, anyway. Kirby is saying his spiel and all that, but knew I wasn’t gong to start. I knew it.”
Indeed, Monken told a group of boosters before spring drills had even started last year that Bennett would be the starter.
“I could have went somewhere,” Beck told podcast host Darrell Streeter. “There were a lot of schools that did reach out to me, and I did consider it at the time.
“I was frustrated, and I was mad things didn’t go my way. But what we have at Georgia and the pieces around you at quarterback, it’s instrumental to your success.”
Beck does realize just how favorable of a situation he has been working toward, and he has learned to harness his football emotions.
“I am nothing without a good offensive line, I am nothing without good receivers who can get open and make plays and running backs you can comfortably turn your back to the defense, hand it off, and they can take it 70,” Beck said, “and a good defense that’s going to help you control the game.
“At Georgia that’s what you are going to get. That was a huge reason of why I stayed, and the mantra we go by, and the standard of excellence and success, those were reasons I committed in the first place.”
It has been a learning process.
“Sitting and waiting made me who I am today,” Beck said, “and the way I try to carry myself and the quarterback I try to be whenever I’m on the field is a result of waiting and being patient those three years.”
Beck shared how he was “shell shocked” in Week Two of the 2021 season, but he now realizes he wasn’t ready for his first opportunity to start the week Georgia was playing UAB with incumbent J.T. Daniels injured.
Smart had opened that week saying Beck was working as the No. 2 quarterback behind Daniels, leading many to believe Beck would start if Daniels wasn’t able to go against the Blazers.
Instead, it was Bennett taking the field, quickly turning pregame boos into cheers. Bennett torched the Blazers with five first-half touchdowns, rekindling a made-for-TV story that has convinced the L.A. Rams to draft him last Saturday.
Beck’s success story is ongoing, and though he has yet to start his first game at Georgia, it’s a story Beck felt compelled to share.
“I was just not ready,” Beck said, looking back on the UAB game of the 2021 season. “The whole week and the whole situation, I don’t really want to talk about it too much.
“I got the chance to play in the game, but I was not in the right headspace mentally, and I was not locked in on the game at all,” he said. “When I went in, I was not confident at all. When I went in, I felt like I didn’t know how to play quarterback just based on everything that had happened, and that’s when I knew I totally just missed that opportunity.”
Beck’s state of emotions likely explains why he didn’t chase after the UAB defender who intercepted his pass and returned it for a touchdown, providing the Blazers their only score in a 56-7 game.
Beck explained how he had worked so hard to earn the No. 2 job only to lose the job the week of the game.
“I grinded during the spring, I bought in, I did well in school, workouts went really well, totally changed my physique and athleticism,” Beck said of that 2021 preseason. “Football-wise, studied so much film, understood the ins and outs, tried to pick JT’s brain apart because that’s one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve been around. Learning from him at the time was super important.
“Coming out of that spring, I was on top of the world. I was like, ‘I’m in a much better situation now, I’m probably ready to go,’ which, I was very wrong.”
Beck has matured and grown in many ways since those challenging early years riding the bench at Georgia, and he takes the approach the ends justify the means.
“As much as I thought I was ready, I was so mad — like so, so mad,” Beck said. “I think any player would be in that situation. But looking back on it now, and understanding what happened, he (Bennett) had the experienced part that I didn’t have, and he’s talented enough to get it done ….
“Looking back on it now, I’m glad I wasn’t shoved into that moment, because if I was, who knows what would have came out of it?”
Beck said he is the quarterback he is now because of his experiences and the patience he learned to show in the process, and that’s important because Smart has made it clear the position demands poise.
“Going through that sophomore season it was tough, because in my head at the time, it was like ‘Damn, that should be me,’ which is like anybody sitting on the bench would say that,” Beck said.
“But now, looking back at it I’m so happy I din’t play that year because I wasn’t there yet. I think football-wise I was there, but mentally and life-wise, like outside of football, handling the criticism from everyone or handling the spotlight, I was way too immature and too young, and I think that’s part of it as a quarterback.”
Beck certainly was dialed in as a backup this season, focused and ready to go before the CFP Championship Game when he did his first Georgia media interview with DawgNation in Los Angeles (below).