ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is about as comfortable with his quarterback situation as any other position on the team, and he said so on national television last week.
“Any position you look at on your football team, you are concerned about depth,” Smart said on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show last week. “If a coach tells you he’s not worried about depth, he’s probably lying.
“We’re concerned about depth at every position across the board.”
No doubt, Georgia saw how quickly depth could come into play last season. It likely cost the Bulldogs the SEC championship and another College Football Playoff appearance.
Senior outside linebacker D’Andre Walker was enjoying an MVP performance when he went down with an injury at the start of the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game.
The Bulldogs were leading Alabama 28-21 at the time, but with Walker out on account of a groin injury, UGA didn’t have another player that could provide both pressure and containment at the position.
That led to former Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts coming off the bench and rallying Alabama to a win .Hurts bought time with his scrambles that likely wouldn’t have been there with UGA’s sacks leader in the game.
The good news at that OLB position is that even if Walker’s former backup — Brenton Cox — moves to the defensive line, as some have projected, UGA has major talent rolling in.
Both 5-star signee Nolan Smith and junior college transfer Jermaine Johnson have the size and talent to compete immediately and find their way on the field.
Quarterback, obviously, draws a great deal more attention that the linebacker position. But the SEC Championship Game served as evidence of the importance of every spot on the team, as Smart suggested.
Georgia lost a talented quarterback when Justin Fields elected to transfer to Ohio State, where he was recently granted a waiver for immediate eligibility.
But the Bulldogs likely avoided what would have been a high-profile controversy that, based on recent tweets from current and former players, had the potential to divide the locker room.
Smart addressed the QB depth issue by flipping former Buckeyes’ commit Dwan Mathis and adding former walk-on back-up QB Stetson Bennett to the class.
“We are excited about the two young men that entered our program mid-year,” Smart said. “We know a lot about Stetson because he’s been in our program, he’s played in a spring game with 93,000 people at it. I have great expectations for him.”
Bennett’s one year as a junior college player and experience with the UGA scout team is somewhat offset by his frame (6-foot, 172 pounds) and arm strength.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Mathis, on the other hand, has great physical ability and must learn the offense to be effective.
“Dwan has been a kid who has been like a sponge,” Smart said. “He’s getting here and has done great academically and we’re excited to see what he does this spring.”
Returning quarterback and team captain Jake Fromm recently said he has been impressed with all of the incoming players.