Kirby Smart: Football stoppage will ‘affect quarterbacks more than anything’

Georgia football-UGA-Stetson Bennett
Georgia redshirt junior Stetson Bennett is expected to compete with Jamie Newman, Carson Beck and D'Wan Mathis for the starting job. Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, is the favorite.

ATHENS — Kirby Smart says the football position affected most by the universal sports stoppage is quarterback, where Georgia will be breaking in a new starter next season.

“There’s no substitute for reps out on the field,” Smart said during his Tuesday teleconference. “We can’t argue that we’re not going to lose reps.

“If you had to say who does this affect the most …  it’s going to affect the quarterback more than anything, in my opinion.”

Smart didn’t want to speculate on when college football might resume amid the coronavirus pandemic, preferring to defer to more educated authorities.

RELATED: Kirby Smart shares staff’s top priority during sports break

But the Bulldogs’ fifth-year head coach was comfortable talking about his team, and how his players and staff are handling these unprecedented times.

Georgia is among the national favorites once the action resumes. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 3 behind Clemson and Ohio State in the USA Today’s post-spring preseason Top 25.

RELATED: Georgia football jumps 8 spots in offseason rankings

Georgia is regarded by many to have the best defense in the nation returning, with 9 of 11 starters back off a Sugar Bowl team that finished No. 4 in the nation and went 5-1 vs. Top 25.

Opposing quarterbacks will be challenged by Smart’s defense whenever action resumes.

But the Bulldogs have their work cut out on offense, too.

Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is expected to win the starting job at quarterback. But redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck are all competing.

RELATED: QB trainer says Jamie Newman will excel quickly

Smart said Newman was able to get plenty of throwing in during the voluntary workouts portion of offseason conditioning.

“I feel like he was starting to get some rhythm, he got to throw a lot with those guys in their own time, the time that they elected,” Smart said. “He and Stetson and Carson and D’Wan would all go out there and throw with our wideouts.”

RELATED: Mathis continues comeback from brain surgery in Athens

Smart said Georgia maximized the NCAA allowances during the offseason conditioning portion of the sports calendar prior to the scheduled start of spring drills.

“We were able to meet leading up to spring practice, a lot of people forget that, we were able to have a walkthrough, leading up to spring practice,” Smart said. “We maximized that time and knew that we needed that time.”

Smart had no idea spring drills would be canceled, but he knew he had an offense that was under construction.

“Knowing we had new quarterbacks, and a new offensive system,” Smart said. “We had to make sure  we spent time with that, so we spent a lot of time with that.”

It wasn’t ideal, but looking back, it was better than nothing.

“They were able to do some 7 on 7s, unstructured, on their own with their team members, they did a good job of that,” Smart said. “We know that’s no substitute for what they would have gotten in spring ball.”

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