Georgia football-quarterbacks-spring practice
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV led the Bulldogs to the national championship on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)

Kirby Smart reveals ‘the biggest challenge’ with Georgia quarterbacks this spring

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Georgia football quarterback position spring practice

ATHENS — As always seems to be the case at Georgia, there’s a level of curiosity surrounding Kirby Smart and his quarterback position. Usually, the discourse around the position ramps up in season, but even during spring practice, Smart was answering questions about his expectations for the position.

On Tuesday Smart did have to wait a little longer than usual to speak about the position. While questions about JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett were rampant last season, Smart went nearly 15 minutes before speaking about his quarterback position this spring.

Normally during spring practice, the emphasis is on development as Smart underlines. Without having to focus on a specific opponent, you can rotate players more frequently and get them the extra practice reps that aren’t normally available.

But there’s one problem when it comes to getting equal reps for Bennett, Beck, Vandagriff and Stockton. It’s got nothing to do with the quarterback room and much more to do with a seemingly recurring problem for the Bulldogs.

Injuries are once again an issue for Georgia’s pass catchers this spring.

CJ Smith and Arian Smith will both be limited this spring by injuries that ended their respective seasons last year. Add in the departures of George Pickens, Jermaine Burton Jaylen Johnson and Justin Robinson, and the Bulldogs are in an even worse spot from a depth standpoint than they were last season.

Related: Georgia stars sidelined for spring, Kirby Smart taking injuries in stride

Georgia also has injuries at the tight end position, with Darnell Washington and Brock Bowers both being out for spring practice. That has led to Arik Gilbert taking reps at tight end.

The injury situation has gotten so bad that it’s actually impacting the development of the Georgia quarterbacks.

“The biggest challenge for us for the spring is to get reps and develop, because we don’t have the depth at the skill positions, receiver and defensive back and even tight end, to be able to do some of the things we liked to practice-wise,” Smart said.

Georgia is expected to get all of those players back healthy for fall practice, but that does little for the continued development of the Georgia quarterback position. All four players need reps, even if it’s with inexperienced wide receivers, such as freshman De’Nylon Morrissette.

“It’s football. injuries happen you have to be prepared for it,” wide receiver Kearis Jackson said. “There’s always that next man-up mentality and you have to be prepared to play.”

In this case, Georgia needs guys to practice. Last spring saw Pickens, Burton and Arian Smith all sustain injuries, while Dominick Blaylock and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint were still recovering from their own ailments. On the one hand, that did open the door for the likes of AD Mitchell and Ladd McConkey to get extra reps in an effort to speed up their development.

But at this point in time, Georgia can’t do the same for Beck, Vandagriff and Stockton. Given Georgia has had multiple starting quarterbacks in each of the past two seasons, depth at the position is crucial, which has led to the Bulldogs going to additional lengths to try and help its young passers.

‘’We’re trying to be innovative, creative in the way we practice, because quarterback development is critical,” Smart said. " So if you have quarterbacks that aren’t able to get reps, how do they get better? So I’m big on challenging our staff to be creative in the ways we rep those guys, who goes with what groups, how many reps a week you get, what percentages. We want to see these guys get better.”

One of those examples was on display at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday, as Carson Beck was the designated passer while throwing to George Pickens, James Cook and Zamir White in front of NFL scouts.

Pickens spoke well of Beck and his skillset. We just haven’t gotten to see much of it beyond a few snaps against UAB, Vanderbilt and in last year’s spring game.

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