Kirby Smart: Georgia QB Jamie Newman ‘knows he has to beat guys out’

Georgia football-UGA-Stetson Bennett
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is among the players competing for the starting job at Georgia.

ATHENS — Kirby Smart has provided more clarity to the quarterback competition he announced last week, explaining Jamie Newman’s position on the roster.

“He (Newman) knows that it’s a competition,” Smart said on Atlanta’s 680 The Fan on Thursday morning. “He knows he has to beat guys out. That’s the way it has always been.

“I don’t know that you’d have a number one to be honest with you. Every kid we’ve ever had, they grad transferred in and competed for the job.”

Newman, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound graduate transfer from Wake Forest, was at the top of Smart’s list when Jake Fromm announced he was forgoing his senior season.

“We had researched the entire year with a thought that Jake would have the opportunity to come out early,” Smart said. “So we had a pool of 30 to 40 guys that we thought would be potential. Whether they were transfers or whether they were grad transfers, whatever they may be, we knew we could possibly be in the quarterback market.

“Once Jamie went into the portal and we knew he was going to be a graduate transfer, we started communication immediately. And it was a process of finding out whether what he wanted aligned with what we wanted.”

No doubt, Newman had plenty of options and would not have selected Georgia if he didn’t have a pretty good idea he’d win the job.

Smart will make sure Newman has every opportunity. But so will the other quarterbacks on the roster.

“Certainly, (Newman) is going to be thrust to the forefront and given reps, just like Stetson Bennett is, just like D’Wan (Mathis) is, and just like Carson (Beck) is going to be given an opportunity,” Smart said. “I don’t ever look past and say that it’s this guy’s job. He just has the most game experience and that’s the advantage he has.”

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Smart said last week in his ESPN interview with Laura Rutledge that there would be a quarterback competition, and that Newman was being pushed.

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“(Newman) has done a good job of staying focused and being on top of things, he and other kids,” he said. “There’s going to 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.”

Smart explained how the quarterbacks had some exposure to the new base offense and receivers during the offseason conditioning.

“We were getting 15-20 minutes a couple days a week and sharing that time, whether it’s install, defensive ID’s for the quarterbacks,” Smart said. “They’re allowed to go out and throw, and they were doing that, throwing with receivers. Did some 7-on-7, but we weren’t allowed to be out there with him.

“It has to be quarterback led, quarterback run. And those guys have done a great job, D’Wan Mathis, Carson Beck, Stetson Bennett, all those guys are doing a really great job and Jamie is the oldest, most mature of those guys. But it was very nice to see those guys learn and understand the language changes we might be going through.”

Ultimately, it will come down to who can move the team in preseason scrimmages, and make the best use of the skill position players.

Smart has said from the start the offense will be built around the best players, so there will be a priority to identify those options in the preseason drills, as well.

The season remains on hold in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said last week he’s still aiming for the season to start on time.

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Sankey made it clear there’s no guarantee that will happen, and some have become more pessimistic after the CFP management committee told Vice President Mike Pence in a Wednesday conference call that students will need to be on campus before football can resume.

Smart and his staff have done their best to make the most of technology and manage their players from afar.

The quarterback competition, like all others on the team, is very much ongoing, albeit out of sight.

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