ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart has officially declared a quarterback competition on his roster, even as most have assumed graduate transfer Jamie Newman was recruited to win the job.
Newman, to be fair, is ranked No. 3 among returning quarterbacks by Pro Football Focus based on advanced metrics from last season at Wake Forest.
But Smart has never been one to hand out jobs without competition and players proving themselves.
Smart, appearing with ESPN host Laura Rutledge on her “No Offseason” video podcast, offered up the QB competition insight when asked how Newman is preparing for a new offense directed by Todd Monken.
“A lot of it is done through the video, and a lot of quarterbacks have to learn that way, anyway, because we only are allotted so much time even on a normal schedule,” Smart said.
“(Newman) has done a good job of staying focused and being on top of things, he and other kids,” he said. “There’s going be a good quarterback competition because we’ve got some kids that are going to compete with him and push him.
“Those guys have gotten with Coach (Todd) Monken and spent a lot of time, they are able to take their own time and look into more video playbook stuff when they choose to.”
“Those guys” are returning junior Stetson Bennett and freshmen D’Wan Mathis and Carson Beck.
Mathis, a former Ohio State QB commit, has stayed in Athens during the coronavirus pandemic to be monitored by UGA medical personnel. Mathis has an MRI scheduled for May that’s expected to clear him for complete contact.
Beck, like Mathis, is a tall, athletic quarterback capable of RPO success. Beck was an early enrollee, and sources in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall made it clear the former Florida High School Player of the Year has quickly earned the respect of his teammates.
Just as Smart did when Jake Fromm and Justin Fields were competing in 2018, the head coach will let it play out on the field when action resumes.
“Leadership,” Smart said when asked what he wanted to see in the QB competition betweenFromm and Fields in the fall of 2018.
“Talking creates togetherness, so if you can talk to your offensive line, your backs, your receivers, command of huddle, command of the offense, decision making.”
The same attributes Smart listed on Aug. 11, 2018, are likely to apply now.
“When you are in the red area, are you secure with the ball?” Smart said. “We got points; are we going to make sure we get a field goal, or are we going to take a risk and take a chance on losing it?
“Are you securing the ball in the pocket? What’s your turnover to touchdown ratio, all the things involved are going to go into those things.”
Smart noted in his interview with Rutledge how important it is that his players are holding one another accountable during the break, with the NCAA limiting coaches’ oversight.
“You have to have good kids, you got to have kids that are holding each other accountable , and you’ve got to have good team leadership, (because) holding them accountable is tough right now,” Smart said.
“But if they want to be successful, they realize what they’ve got to do.”
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