ATHENS — The No. 1 reason Georgia quarterback Carson Beck figures to look more comfortable this week is the offensive player who wears the No. 1 — Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.
Rosemy-Jacksaint has quietly become the Bulldogs’ go-to receiver at the “X” position this season with the transfer of Adonai Mitchell to Texas and Mississippi State transfer Rara Thomas still learning the offense.
This is especially true as preseason All-SEC receiver Ladd McConkey deals with a back injury that forced him to miss the opening game and practice time this week.
The absence of Rosemy-Jacksaint and McConkey last Saturday surely factored into how coach Kirby Smart instructed new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to devise his opening game plan.
Smart admitted told his coordinators the game plan last Saturday would lean on our defense,” translation — “conservative” — in the season-opening 48-7 win over FCS-level UT-Martin.
The approach might be somewhat similar in the noon game this Saturday against Ball State, yet another overmatched non-conference foe for the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs.
But Georgia fans should not be surprised if Beck and the Bulldogs’ offense gets off to a faster, more efficient start than last week, when the first 25 minutes of game action netted only a 7-0 UGA lead.
Rosemy-Jacksaint will be back in the lineup, and he’ll be on Beck’s radar each snap, the quarterback knowing that the receiver who wears the No. 1 will be where he’s supposed to be each play.
“I think it really helps Carson’s confidence,” Smart said. “That’s one of the big things about having Marcus around. It’s like, ‘Marcus knows every fastball play. Marcus knows exactly what to do when he checks. Marcus knows the route tree.’
“Marcus gives you comfort as a quarterback that he’s going to do it right. It’s not just the physicality and blocking because he’s more than a blocker. He goes up and makes plays on the ball.”
Beck had All-American Brock Bowers as his go-to target last week to the tune of 5 catches for 78 yards.
But Smart shared that Bowers was dealing with an ailment, and Georgia didn’t want to overuse their star tight end in the first game of what could be another 15-game season.
The absence of Rosemy-Jacksaint and McConkey opened the door for walk-on receiver Mekhi Mews to grab 3 catches for 75 yards and a TD, and walk-on tailback Cash Jones to make 4 catches for 24 yards.
This, after all the talk of Georgia’s highly-touted transfers Dominic Lovett (3 catches, 25 yards) and Rara Thomas (1 catch, 56 yards), and a celebrated incoming class of freshman targets.
The Bulldogs did utilize three quarterbacks who spread the ball around to 11 different pass catchers against UT-Martin, working to build valuable depth in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage.
But with SEC opponent South Carolina just two games away, it’s likely Smart will allow Bobo to open things up a bit more against the Cardinals on Saturday.
Smart denied holding anything back against UT-Martin, but the types of plays called and personnel usage were somewhat conservative in nature.
The return of Rosemy-Jacksaint, who was essentially suspended the first game on account of his well-documented offseason driving incident, should give Beck and Bobo the confidence to take a more aggressive approach.
“(Rosemy-Jacksaint) had huge catches last year over the middle, (and) he had the end zone catches against Tennessee,” Smart pointed out this week. “He’s just very reliable.
“I think having him back gives all those guys a little more swagger and confidence at receiver because he’s out there. It takes a bit of a load off the other guys in terms of volume.”