ATHENS — Georgia quarterback Carson Beck is approaching his first road start with the same level of confidence that he brings to home games.
“Obviously every game is exciting, but to go on the road in the SEC to an environment like that is super exciting,” Beck said last week. “Especially the first time, but we definitely practice (for) that a lot.”
The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs will put their 21-game win streak on the line when they play at Auburn at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday (TV: CBS).
Beck, obviously, will play a pivotal role in determining the outcome as he looks to silence a hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd that will be looking to help Auburn confuse and frustrate Beck.
The Tigers lead the SEC in turnovers forced this season (8) and are also tops in the league in Red Zone defense and second in the SEC in pass efficiency defense.
Coach Kirby Smart has made sure Beck and the Georgia players are prepared for the noise, often utilizing loud music at UGA practices to ensure the team is able to communicate effectively under such conditions.
“You’ve been there in the indoor, and Kirby cranks up the crowd noise and it’s so loud you can’t even hear yourself talk,’ Beck told former UGA quarterback Aaron Murray, who conducts paid interviews for the Players’ Lounge podcast.
“W try to work it to our advantage and make sure we’re ready for when that happens and when it comes.”
Smart, who said he picked Beck to be the starter over Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton because of his experience level, knows how his quarterback is approaching the game.
“I’ve never seen his confidence not be there — he’s a confident kid,” Smart said. “He’s got experience that brings confidence. He’s gotten experience, but he didn’t lack confidence. That’s just not in his DNA.”
Beck has held his own statistically in leading the Bulldogs out to a 4-0 start, including a 24-14 come-from-behind win over South Carolina in the program’s only SEC game.
Smart has seen to it that new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has orchestrated a careful game plan that has utilized high-percentage plays while maintaining balance and avoiding turnovers.
Georgia has had a largely new group of skill position players on the other end of passes on account of injuries and attrition.
Beck is expected to get a lift on Saturday, however, with Ladd McConkey — last year’s leading receiver — expected to return from the back injury that sidelined him the first four games.
McConkey had a good week of practice, according to Smart, and he’s expected to play against the Tigers.
Having that reliable speed element back on the perimeter could help open things up for Beck and the Bulldogs.
Beck, as he has been instructed, has made it a point not to force passes into coverage downfield.
“I think the biggest thing is continuing to be efficient, complete passes, and get the ball into our playmakers’ hands and let them make plays,” Beck said.
“We are Georgia, We are the number one team in the country for a reason, we have athletes that surround me, so my job and my goal is to get the ball into their hands.”
The Auburn faithful will do what they can to discourage that, but Beck does not sound intimated nor deterred, as he has waited four years for such an opportunity to prove himself.