Coach Kirby Smart said many times last season he had trust in all of his Georgia football quarterbacks. The Bulldogs opened spring drills last week with returners Stetson Bennett, Brock Vandagriff and Carson Beck in the top three spots.
UGA Sp

Kirby Smart’s challenges to Georgia QB Stetson Bennett resonate; Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff get first-team looks

ATHENS -- Kirby Smart said last week that “complacency will be the killer of us all,” and he meant it.

The Georgia head coach has long turned the page on the Bulldogs’ historic CFP Championship season, and he’s making it a point neither complacency nor entitlement will be the downfall of the program.

RELATED: Stetson Bennett says being No. 1 easier after closed-door meetings with Kirby

That’s why it shouldn’t be surprising quarterbacks Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff have gotten elevated reps with the first-team since last Thursday.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken typically takes an NFL approach to splitting the reps with the starting quarterback getting the vast majority of reps with the ones.

This could be a simple matter of Smart giving Beck and Vandagriff a fair opportunity to show their progress after being buried on the depth chart last season and working behind incumbent Stetson Bennett.

Spring drills are theoretically a time for open competition, and it’s worth noting Beck and Vandagriff arrived at Georgia as celebrated prospects.

Beck was a former Alabama QB commit, and Vandagriff was an Oklahoma commit, essentially chosen over celebrated transfer Caleb Williams.

Could Beck have been the Tide’s quarterback last season and played in the national title game?

It was Beck’s de-committment from Alabama that led Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young to first look at attending Alabama.

Could Vandagriff be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma had he chosen the Sooners?

Spencer Rattler has transferred to South Carolina, and Williams — who Georgia recently took a swing at in the NCAA transfer portal — is headed to USC with an NIL deal believed to be worth more than $2 million.

Bulldogs’ fans know that Beck and Vandagriff possess NFL size, athleticism and arm talent.

But neither have the experience Bennett brings to the table, and most assume Bennett will be the starting quarterback this season.

In fact, one of the storylines was supposed to be this being Bennett’s chance to get all the first-team reps possible in a spring session and elevate his game.

Instead, the elevation of Beck and Vandagriff — temporary as it might still be — could be a matter of the head coach trying to get a point across to Bennett.

Smart chose to publicly challenge Bennett last week in a way he has not had to approach any other UGA quarterbacks, with a tone never used with former starters Jake Fromm and JT Daniels.

“We have high expectations for Stetson,” Smart said, “but we also have high standards for what we expect Stetson to do in terms of leading our offense, going to class, and doing the right thing.

“We are still challenging him to do those things.”

Smart’s comments raised eyebrows.

A 24-year-old, sixth-year senior starting quarterback needing to be challenged to go to class?

And, Bennett needing to be challenged to be “doing the right thing?”

It wasn’t so long ago Bennett was given the key to his hometown of Blackshear, Ga., with a parade in his honor.

RELATED: Bennett gets key to the city, hometown cements his saga as hero

There were earlier signs, however, that Bennett’s quarterback security might not be as storybook as it seemed.

Bennett made that clear during a national television appearance the day after the CFP Championship Game on Good Morning America.

Bennett said he wanted to know if he “can trust the decisions made” by the staff before deciding on whether he should return to Georgia or play football somewhere else.

Could Bennett have been stinging from postgame critique?

Monken often provides his quarterbacks immediate feedback, and Bennett was less than perfect in the 33-18 win over Alabama, both in terms of his execution and reads.

RELATED: Alabama schemes to fool Stetson Bennett, force mistakes

Indeed, Bennett said last week there was more than one “closed-door conversation” with Smart in the offseason.

Bennett came out of those meetings the No. 1 quarterback, just as Monken confirmed at a booster function in January.

But now, with spring drills not yet halfway over, there’s room for speculation.

In addition to challenging how Bennett was taking care of things off the field, Smart used the word “bonehead” twice to describe how the former walk-on was performing under center.

At the very least, the Georgia quarterback situation is worth keeping an eye on.

Leave a Comment