WATCH: Third-year back-up QB Carson Beck prepared if needed, ready for what’s next
LOS ANGELES — Carson Beck doesn’t necessarily expect to play in the CFP Championship Game on Monday night, but the Georgia backup quarterback is prepared for the moment if called upon.
“I’ve gotten a few opportunities (this season), and every time I get in, I try to take advantage and do the best I can,” said Beck, who logged stats in five games this season, most recently against Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale.
“Just going up against our defense every day, we have what I think is the best defense in the country, you see all different types of looks, and you’re going against future draft picks.”
The Bulldogs play TCU at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at SoFi Stadium, with quarterback Stetson Bennett looking to cap his storybook career with a second national title.
The 25-year-old Bennett proved durable in this, his sixth year of collegiate football, playing more snaps (922) than anyone on the team.
Beck was allowed 72 total snaps, and he completed 24-of-32 passes for 279 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I’ve grown up a lot,” Beck said, asked how he had changed since arriving at UGA some three years ago after his recruiting process led him to de-commit from Alabama, opening the door for Bryce Young to consider the Tide per the father of the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.
“I’d say football-wise, my mental side of the game has been the most improved,” Beck said. “I’ve continued to grow in every aspect and tried to get better.”
Former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was able to spend time around Beck in the offseason and offered high praise.
“When you look at Carson, very prototypical NFL quarterback,” Fromm said last fall.
“You see a guy who is a bigger guy with a big arm, not as mobile compared to the other guys on the roster, but if he can do what he does better than the other guys, there maybe could be an opportunity for him.”
Beck is expected to compete with Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton in spring drills, though UGA has not ruled out adding another quarterback via the transfer portal.
Smart indicated this week that solving next year’s quarterback puzzle at Georgia was one of the furthest things from his mind, even while pointing out the great value in bowl reps for his defense.
“As far as who takes over that (quarterback) seat next year, I’m not concerned with that right now,” Smart said. “I know it will take its course and we’ve got a lot of time to prepare for that.”
The Bulldogs pursued Caleb Williams in the transfer portal last year after winning the CFP Championship Game.
But when Williams followed coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma to USC, Bennett announced his return to Georgia and was designated the starter for the 2022 season.
“There were a bunch of private conversations,” Bennett said last spring. “.... it was time for me to be a little selfish.”
Monken indicated that Beck -- along with the other Georgia quarterbacks -- have handled their designated back-up roles well.
“Everybody wants to play, it’s hard to see down the road, all of us,” Monken said. “Lou Holtz said this to me when I was a GA …. everybody wants to be a chief before they’re a really good brave. There’s a lot to that.
“Everybody wants to be the chief before they have done everything else to be a brave. And he’s right. And those guys have done a great job of learning how to be great braves and putting themselves in a position to be the chief.”
Beck appeared on the verge of getting his first career start last season against UAB with starter J.T. Daniels — Monken’s hand-picked choice out of the portal the prior spring — working to recover from upper body injuries.
Coach Kirby Smart had said on that Monday that Beck was the No. 2 quarterback, as he had been throughout the previous spring and through fall drills.
But Beck was rumored to have had a tough practice that week of the UAB game, however, and Smart was ready to see Bennett get his second chance at being a starting quarterback after Daniels replaced him in 2020, and Beck beat him out for the No. 2 spot in the spring.
Bennett shared how he went to Smart’s office the summer before the 2021 season to discuss whether he could still compete at quarterback before deciding not to transfer out of Georgia.
RELATED: Stetson Bennett’s incredible journey, not as smooth as Hollywood might prefer
Beck, to his credit, did not get caught up in the drama and has stayed loyal to Georgia rather than transfer to another FBS program — or, as Bennett did after his freshman season, a junior college.
“Obviously it’s not my decision, and it all comes down to practice,” Beck said, recalling that pivotal UAB week in Georgia quarterback history.
“And that week, Stetson was the guy, and that’s what happened. Since then, he’s been the guy and had a great career, and now we’re in a second national championship.
“Going back to that, there’s nothing I can do but come to practice every day and get better.”
And that is what Beck has done, growing bigger, stronger and thicker in the process.
“I just want to continue to work on every facet of my game, from accuracy to arm strength,” said Beck, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds.
“I think the mental side is the biggest part; just understanding the mental side of football, which I think Coach Monken does a great job of teaching us in meetings and in the film room.”
The fact Monken appears intent to stick around Georgia is evidence of his comfort with the quarterback room.
All three returning quarterbacks — Beck, Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton — have the arm talent and acumen needed to run the Pro Style spread Monken first brought to Georgia before Daniels’ injury.
And those three quarterbacks have done so while building positive relationships with one another.
“A lot of people feel like there might be animosity in a quarterback room because only one guy plays, but our guys all have a good relationship,” Beck said. “We’re tight and close and feed off each other, whether that’s football, life or our friendships.
" I think we’re all really good friends, even though there’s only one spot, it doesn’t matter to us.”