ATHENS — Carson Beck had his best game as a starter on Saturday night. It probably should’ve been even better.
Beck threw for a career-best 337 yards in Georgia’s 49-21 win over UAB. He had 3 passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the win. He once again didn’t turn the ball over for the Bulldogs, a clear strength.
It was another positive step forward for Beck, who showed just how far he’s come since the last time he played UAB in 2021. He threw a pick 6 in that game, with Stetson Bennett playing just about perfect. Bennett displayed that day why he would go on to become a national championship-winning quarterback, as he threw for 5 touchdowns against the Blazers.
Beck still had some throws he’d like back, a sign there’s still room for improvement. He misfired on a fourth-down pass attempt to Rara Thomas. He then overthrew a wide-open Jackson Meeks for what should’ve been a big gain.
But then he placed a perfect pass to Arian Smith, only for the ball to bounce off Smith’s hands.
Hitting on all those would’ve made it a perfect night for Beck. But even on the missed deep shots, Georgia still managed to score touchdowns.
“We took our shots, we took our chances,” Beck said. “On both of those drives where we ended up missing, we ended up coming back and scoring. It’s just like Kirby always says, moment by moment.”
Teammates took note of how Beck, moment by moment, has seemed to improve. Even being the most veteran quarterback on Georgia’s team, it’s a different beast when you’re stepping in as the starting quarterback.
“The more reps he’s get,” Bowers said. “The better he’s going to be.”
Beck completed 12 of his 22 completions to veterans Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Brock Bowers. The two veterans finished with 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. He clearly has chemistry with those two.
“Carson is improving every week,” offensive lineman Xavier Truss said. “This is his first season as a starter and just seeing him from camp till now, every week he’s improving. He played his ass off today.”
Beck knows his next test will be his toughest, as he leaves the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium for a road game at Auburn.
He anticpates it will be a challenge going on the road with 88,000 opposing fans screaming at you.
“He’s a confident kid. He’s got experience that brings confidence,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s gotten experience, but he didn’t lack confidence. That’s just not in his DNA.”
Unlike the first three games of the season, Beck didn’t take long to get going. He connected with Dominic Lovett for a 33-yard game on the first play of the game. The drive ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Smith.
In addition to conquering the slow starts, Beck seemed to help fix the red zone issues that plagued Georgia a week ago against South Carolina. The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on all six of their drives into the red zone on Saturday.
It helped that Georgia was able to hit on big plays in the passing game, while also successfully running the ball when necessary on Saturday. Beck himself even added a rushing score, his second on the season.
“I told yall all along I’m very pleased with the practice the organization, the plans, what they do, it’s been good,” Smart said on the offensive identity. “It’s been great. I got no complaints, I just wish we were healthier.”
In a twist, Beck was actually less bullish on the offensive identity. He feels this group of Bulldogs, that he now clearly leads, is still searching for that obvious calling card.
If Saturday was any indication, it seems Beck is getting closer to putting his finger on what exactly can make this team the best version of itself.
“We obviously have a far ways to go,” Beck said. “We’re still trying to find that identity and what that is but I think we’re starting to pick up to steam and build chemistry.”
That should be an exciting thought for a Georgia offense that still put up 49 points with a quarterback making only his fourth career start.
With a bit more experience and Beck may finally have that perfect performance.