Kirby Smart talks confidence in quarterbacks, concerns with offensive line
ATHENS — Kirby Smart said he’ll only be as involved with the Georgia football offense “as much as I need to be” next season.
It’s no different than any other year, the Bulldogs’ sixth-year head coach explained on 680 The Fan earlier this week.
“I don’t spend a lot of time deciding what’s in, and what’s not in (offensive package each week), that’s what you pay those guys to do, and that’s what you pay the offensive coordinator to do,” Smart said. “If anything, for me, it’s giving a nugget about the opposing defense and trying to figure out which ways we can get the balls to our playmakers.
“That’s always been the case, not any different with (Todd) Monken.”
The Georgia offense will be different without George Pickens after the UGA star receiver suffered a torn ACL in practice on Tuesday. But not as different as some might think.
The Air Raid offense is predicated on finding the open spots on defense — the “air” — and attacking space.
JT Daniels has played in this style of offense for years, and his ability to read the defense at the line of scrimmage, direct his receivers and make all the throws make him the obvious leader for the starting job.
That said, Smart made it clear he’s still evaluating all of the other quarterbacks.
“It’s JT’s job, he’s played the position, he’s really on top of it, he’s doing a good job in our offense, but that’s not to say we’re not giving the other guys a look,” Smart said.
“Stetson Bennett is a good football player, and we think he’s a good quarterback, he’s very athletic,” Smart said. “Carson Beck is a guy we’ve always thought a lot of, he’s a really good passer, and he didn’t get the benefit of spring practice.
“He didn’t get the benefit of doing anything in college football, and now, he’s getting a ton of reps, and I think that’s big. And then Brock is here with us, he’s very athletic and he’s done some things, so every guy is going to have an opportunity to play across our roster.”
The competition between Bennett and Beck for the backup job is among the most intense of the spring.
For all the confidence in the offense, Smart said he has his concerns about Georgia’s unsettled offensive line.
Broderick Jones is a talent at left tackle, but he’s yet to gain the weight and develop the sort of power that made Andrew Thomas a force from the time he stepped foot on campus.
“Across the board, we’re not the same offensive line that we’ve been in terms of experience,” Smart said, “so we have to be able to improve in that area, and we have to be able to protect the quarterback.
“That’s one thing that I felt like Jake (Fromm) had that not everybody had. He had an elite offensive line in front of him, in terms of guys that are playing in the NFL. All five of those guys will end up playing in the NFL.”
Georgia loses center Trey Hill and offensive guard Ben Cleveland from the 2020 starting lineup.
“That’s not a total rebuild, but we have a lot of rebuild in the offensive line,” Smart said. “Some of the best things we do offensively come off play-action and pass Pro, so we’ve got to be able to do that.”
The Bulldogs return to the practice field for their fifth spring practice on Thursday.