ATHENS — Kirby Smart loves competition at every position, but he has never been a fan of controversy and on Saturday ended speculation on the starting quarterback job.
Smart crowned Carson Beck the winner of the Bulldogs’ offseason quarterback derby on Saturday while notably leaving the No. 2 slot open.
Georgia will open the season a heavy favorite in home games with UT-Martin and Ball State, which could provide an opportunity to play backups Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton once those games get out of hand.
“We haven’t said anything as to who the second quarterback is,” Smart said, “or how those reps are going to divvied up.”
Smart has typically not given more than two quarterbacks snaps with the Ones, but the head coach said he likes the talent and competition.
Smart said he told the quarterbacks Beck would start the opening game even before Scrimmage Two took place on Saturday at Sanford Stadium, but he wants the competition to continue.
“I’m excited to see those guys hopefully have an opportunity to play and compete,” Smart said. “They’ll be able to go with the Ones in the next two weeks some and get more reps and figure out even if we have a Two, who that’s going to be and how it’s going to go forward.”
However it goes, Smart made it clear the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs are three-deep with quarterbacks who can lead the team to victories.
“I have complete confidence we can win football games with both of those guys, Carson is just ahead of them right now,” Smart said. “I want to continue to grow both of those guys because they are like sponges, they’re picking it up, they’re getting it, they understand it, they know where to go with the ball.”
Smart said that’s why the staff intends to make sure Vandagriff and Stockton -- neither of whom have thrown a pass in a collegiate game -- continue to get quality reps.
“We want to keep that growth going, (and) the only way to keep the growth going it to get those guys really quality reps,” Smart said. “That’s one of the separators in every program in the country, is who is able to get quality reps for their Twos and Threes from this point forward.
“If you don’t get quality reps you’re going to regress and I want those two guys to keep growing and keep competing. They challenge each other every day, all three of those guys do, and they do some really nice things.”
Smart indicated there wasn’t much, if any, separation between the quarterbacks in Scrimmage One.
Beck’s experience, however, has given him an edge that neither Vandagriff nor Stockton was able to overcome over the summer or into fall camp.
“It’s the few plays where things break down,” Smart said, “Or a guy doesn’t do the right thing with them — the offensive player — and now a little bit of panic mode hits and they have to learn to give up on a play sometimes and not try to make it spectacular and play for the next down.”
Beck has learned that himself over his years of experience and even this spring, bouncing back from three interceptions in one scrimmage.
“That’s the greatest separator of he and the other two quarterbacks is his comfort level with the offense,” Smart said when asked about Beck’s experience level.
“When you have the extra spring and the extra fall, that those two guys don’t have, that rep volume is kind of the separator,” he said. “He’s had the ability to understand when the defense is doing this, and we’re in this, I need an answer, and he’s had good answers.”