(This is part two of Carson Beck’s post-spring thoughts. The Georgia QB shared feelings from his challenges with the Bulldogs earlier, and now explains his refreshed outlook moving forward)
ATHENS — Carson Beck is about as confident as he dares to be, fully aware that in Kirby Smart’s Georgia program there is no such thing as complacency.
“I try not to let myself get comfortable, because when I get comfortable, things get bad,” said Beck, who has had a well-documented career as a three-year backup with the Bulldogs.
“You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable … it will only push me and make me better.”
Beck exited Georgia spring football “1A” with third-year sophomore Brock Vandagriff a distinct “1B” after Beck played the first half of the G-Day Game with the Ones and impressed.
“At this point in my career and being at Georgia, all the plays are like second nature to me,” Beck said on the “Footballville” YouTube podcast. “That doesn’t mean I can just stop, I still need to study and write things down, even to get a half percent better.”
Beck’s high ceiling and command of the offense are obvious, even while his floor remains somewhat in doubt after a three-interception scrimmage earlier in the spring.
“There might be a mistake or a breakdown,” Smart said earlier this spring, “and you (can) not go full metal jacket and have catastrophe mode and put us in a bad situation.”
Smart often used the word “boneheaded” to describe mistakes made by former quarterback Stetson Bennett the previous two seasons, and he dusted it off and applied it again earlier in the spring.
No position or player is immune from the high standards and occasional sharp tongue Smart applies to capture his players’ attention.
Beck and others in the Georgia quarterback room — who also dealt with salty-versed Todd Monken the past three years — are as conditioned to handle criticism as well as the daily competition at the position.
“That’s how it should be,” Beck said of the quarterback room depth, with promising redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton presenting the Bulldogs a third option.
“We’re at the University of Georgia, one of the best programs in the country. Every position has competition. I think that brings the best out of all of us.”
New Old Offense
Sweeping player personnel turnover dictated the Georgia offensive scheme had to change for 2023, regardless of who was wearing the coordinator hat and calling plays.
New offensive coordinator Mike Bobo doesn’t have a 6-foot-7, 275-pound monster of a tight end to create matchups complexities, or a record-setting, pass-catching tailback who didn’t drop as pass in four years, or two offensive tackles that did not surrender a sack in 15 games last season.
Bobo and the Bulldogs have acquired other offensive weapons, however, and they are scheming how best to maximize the talents of the new chess pieces.
Beck’s NFL-ready arm opens up many possibilities, even if he doesn’t run with the same sort of authority and skill of his predecessor, Bennett, or teammate Vandagriff.
Beck explained how Bobo is maximizing his quarterbacks’ abilities by ingeniously helping them find a comfort zone within his scheme.
“What I do love about Bobo is the way he connects to the quarterbacks and how involved we are in the game plan,” Beck said. “Before the spring game, he was talking to me like, ‘what do you want on this down and distance?’
“And then (he was) going through with his ideas, and was I in agreement with that.”
If not, Bobo offers options.
“I could change it up, or tell him I like this play instead of this one,” Beck said. “Or, give him a top three (list of plays) on third downs.
“It’s a precursor of, I already know what’s going to be called, so I’m more prepared that I was in the first place.”
Beck understands the external pressures that come with being the next quarterback up on a two-time defending CFP Championship program.
But Beck shared how he does not allow himself to internalize such pressure, as it is outside his control. So the amount of pressure he said he feels, is “honestly, none,” despite what outsiders might anticipate.
“There is a ton of pressure, like, whatever ends up happening if that is me in the (QB) spot, there’s tons of pressure because the guy that did it before did win two national championships and had an unbelievable career,” Beck said of the external circumstances.
“But that’s out of my control …. the only thing I can control is going into practice on Monday, and then Tuesday, and then Wednesday,” Beck shared. “And day by day, focus on each opponent individually, and just get first downs and score touchdowns. That’s all I can focus on.”
The genius is in the simplicity of the approach, of course, and the discipline to maintain such focus.
“Because If I start to think about, ‘Well I have to be this,’ — No, I just have to be myself,” Beck said. “At the end of the day, that’s all you’ve go to do as a football player is just be you.
“I think if I just be myself, it will work.”
Smart said at the conclusion of spring drills that Georgia was only about “25 percent” there, in terms of its preparations for the 2023 season.
There’s a long offseason of summer conditioning along with individual and limited team workouts ahead before the Bulldogs take the field against UT-Martin on Sept. 2.
Beck is the odds-on favorite to be the first quarterback under center, even though Smart has suggested he may need to see how the QB candidates play in games before settling in at the position.
If Beck gets that first snap, as most anticipate, it will reward the rare level of patience and buy-in he exhibited amid this transfer era.
Beck is reportedly the only Top 50-ranked quarterback from 2017-20 that did not start his first three years that didn’t transfer.
Beck’s arm talent arguably exceeds any of the quarterbacks he has shared meeting rooms with these past three seasons, but he admits there were areas he needed to mature and grow.
As Smart says, “it takes what it takes,” and at the end of the day, “nobody really cares” about the backstories and sagas so much as the focus remains on the bottom line of maintaining a championship program.
Beck wears his bench-warmer scars with pride.
“Sitting and waiting made me who I am today,” Beck said, “and the way I try to carry myself, and the quarterback I try to be whenever I’m on the field is a result of waiting and being patient those three years.”
Beck doesn’t have many game snaps or pass attempts to show for those years, but there have been plenty of reps behind the practice gates.
“Going against our defense, they are so multiple and they do so many different things, especially on third downs.” Beck said. “It’s ridiculous all the things we’ve seen. Every blitz you could see, every coverage, every pressure … those guys are the best in the country.
“It has prepared me well. I’ve been going against them for three years every single day in practice. Now once I get the opportunity to go into the game, I’ll be on the field against another opponent, (and) I think it will have me prepared and ready to go.”