Kirby Smart Georgia football QB update suggests competition could carry into 2023 season
ATHENS — Kirby Smart’s latest update on the Georgia football quarterback competition indicates it will be a lengthy one that could trickle into the season.
“I don’t think we’re going to overdo the quarterbacks in the spring,” Smart said earlier this week while speaking in Macon. “We’re going to let those guys develop.
“They all need reps, and they all need game reps, and we can’t get enough of that.”
The Bulldogs open with UT-Martin -- an FCS school they’ll be favored to beat by at least seven touchdowns -- before playing host to Ball State.
Georgia was originally supposed to travel to play Oklahoma, which surely would have changed Smart’s timetable on the QB race.
RELATED: Kirby Smart’s opening spring remarks indicate two-horse race at Georgia QB
But when the SEC essentially forced UGA to drop the game with the Sooners -- on account of the 2024 addition of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC -- a window opened for a more thorough exploration of how the quarterbacks might do in game situations.
Smart has shown his willingness to provide valuable reps for backups with games in the balance before, back in 2018 with Justin Fields, and again in 2021 with Stetson Bennett playing behind J.T. Daniels in early season games.
RELATED: Kirby Smart tips hand on key trait in Georgia football QB competition
That said, Carson Beck did not get those sort of early-game reps during the 2022 season, as former offensive coordinator Todd Monken looked to get Bennett dialed in for elite numbers.
Beck is currently first among the quarterbacks when taking reps during spring drills, with Brock Vandagriff second and Gunner Stockton third
RELATED: Kenny McIntosh shares thoughts on Georgia quarterback for next season
Smart has said Beck and Vandagriff will split the first-team reps in spring drills while Stockton — who spent most all of last season on the scout team — continues to learn the offense.
“The expectation for the spring is to have a really good competition, to grow those guys, develop all three of them,” Smart said.
“We don’t know which one will be the starting quarterback, we don’t know how it will play out.”
And, Smart added, the Bulldogs aren’t particularly in a hurry with so much coming at the offense now that Mike Bobo is the new offensive coordinator and the scheme is adjusting to fit new personnel.
“We’re not looking to find a starter one day in practice,” Smart said. " What we’re trying to do is get those three guys better, make sure they understand the verbiage, make sure they understand the offense.
“Can they operate the offense and get the ball to the playmakers and make some plays themselves?”
Gone is mammoth mismatch tight end Darnell Washington and elite pass-catching tailback Kenny McIntosh.
Meanwhile, Missouri transfer receiver Dominic Lovett has arrived and is opening eyes while tailback Kendall Milton looks to realize his sizable potential as the lead horse among the stable of backs.
With the offensive scheme and personality evolving — a work in progress — there is no “right” answer at quarterback.
Perhaps if one were to separate and be “that” much better than the others — but that obviously is not the case of Smart would have given Beck more reps last season to prepare him to take over.
In the meantime, Smart says, “We’re not trying to re-invent it (offense), we have good players and we want to get the ball to them.
“We want to play good sound defense and offense and good special teams.”