ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart said earlier this season that sometimes a quarterback change can create a spark in the offense.
In that respect, the No. 12-ranked Bulldogs might need a flamethrower after their quarterbacks have completed just 44 percent of their passes with 8 interceptions, 4 fumbles and 8 batted down passes in the last 3 games.
A quarterback change appears imminent this week, particularly after Smart revealed that Stetson Bennett has not yet been able to throw leading up to the noon game at Missouri (TV: SEC Network).
Bennett’s absence, on account of the sprained AC joint he suffered in his throwing shoulder 3 1/1 minutes into the 44-28 loss in Florida, has cleared the way for others to split first-team reps.
“Stetson hasn’t been able to throw, but those guys have been working hard,” Smart said on his Tuesday Zoom call.
“Carson (Beck) has gotten work, JT (Daniels) has gotten work and D’Wan (Mathis) has gotten work, I’m pleased with all three of them.”
Mathis is the only one of the three aforementioned players to appear in a contest this season entering into the noon game on Saturday at Missouri.
Smart was asked to elaborate more on Daniels, the favorite to start and a former 5-star recruit who bypassed his entire senior year of high school to start as a true freshman at USC in 2018 before suffering a torn ACL in the Trojans’ 2019 season-opening game.
“I think I’ve seen he’s got a quick release, I see that every day anyway, with us on scouts,” Smart said. “He has good command and presence, meaning he understands the offense in terms of timing, communicating, snap counts, motions, all the things you want a quarterback to be able to do, he does a good job with that.”
Smart said it was hard for him to judge Daniels’ mobility — a concern, as the redshirt sophomore was not cleared in time for the opening game at Arkansas, which cleared the way for Mathis and ultimately Bennett to move past him on the depth chart.
“Can’t really judge mobility in our practices, unfortunately, because it’s not real,” Smart said. “There’s no way. I can’t go out there and go live tackle, that’s not something I can do.
“You don’t get a clean picture from the scouts, because sometimes they’re not talented enough to rush the passer and give you a look. The best periods you have is when we go against each other, and we’ve only a few of those. We don’t do that on Monday, and we did a little bit today, so it’s hard to answer that question with two days body of work for any of those three guys.”
Whoever is under center will have the benefit of having sophomore George Pickens to throw to.
“I think the juice on the offensive ball has been good,” Smart said. “George [Pickens] has been practicing, so I think it’s helpful that he has been out there.”
The Bulldogs star receiver has missed the past two games while recovering from a pectoral muscle injury suffered in the weight room during the open week.
Pickens has only 13 catches for 140 yards this season. The Sugar Bowl MVP with 12 catches for 175 yards, Pickens was unable to get on track with Bennett, whose skillset has limited him to mostly shorter throws to the slot receivers and running backs.
Smart had the team practice inside on Tuesday on account of the rainy weather, noting that “the juice on the offensive side of the ball has been good.”
Smart was critical of the quarterback play during his Monday press conference, using the word “accuracy” 10 times during his presentation (in addition to four references to “accurate” and “inaccurate”).
Smart said Georgia will return to work on “third down” and “red area” on Wednesday.