ATHENS — Kirby Smart is confident Carson Beck knows the plays and will be able to communicate them in an SEC road environment.
But the Georgia head coach points out that Beck will be facing a different kind of test at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“You know, I think that’s something that we’re gonna find out,” Smart said, asked how Beck will handle the first road start of his collegiate career. “I think he’s been through some ups and downs.”
No doubt about it, Beck’s career path has been unconventional, as he lost out on his first opportunity to assume starting duties back in 2021 and has had to wait two long years for his shot.
Smart said Beck’s experience made the difference in the quarterback competition after three-year starter Stetson Bennett departed for the NFL, and the fourth-year junior has been careful not to do anything to lose the job or give up any more reps than necessary.
Left tackle Earnest Greene lll is the only offensive player to have taken more snaps (256) than Beck has been afforded at quarterback (253).
Georgia third-year backup Brock Vandagriff has taken 23 snaps while redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton has had 21 snaps.
Smart has certainly made sure Beck has gotten enough work to be ready for the challenge.
“He’s certainly been against good defenses, like Auburn has --- he goes against our guys,” Smart pointed out on Monday.
“So, it’s different when it’s live, so you got to find out how he responds to that.”
The Bulldogs have been piping in crowd noise sporadically throughout practices all the way back into the spring to make sure they can handle Auburn’s loud environment.
“I’m very confident in Carson’s ability to communicate, to understand things,” Smart said. “He’s been in our system you know, you only get good at these situational football things by playing football for a long time and he’s been with us for a while.
“It’s his first chance to do it on the road.”
Beck will have All-American tight end Brock Bowers as a security blanket of sorts, as he hit him nine times for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the 49-21 win over UAB.
Of Bowers’ 121 yards, 110 yards came after the catch, as Smart has approved a plan calling for high-percentage short passes or Beck having to check down.
The Bulldogs are hoping preseason All-SEC receiver pick Ladd McConkey (back) can play after returning to practice this week, which would give Beck yet another elite threat to look for under pressure.
“I feel like we had a really good test there against South Carolina, who was a really a good football team in my opinion,” Smart said, referring to Georgia coming back from 14-3 down to beat the Gamecocks 24-14 two weekends ago. “We responded to that.”
And now it’s up to Beck to respond to the next challenge with a national CBS television audience looking on and the Auburn defense intent on containing him.