ATHENS — There’s an old college football axiom that big-time players make big-time plays for a reason.

Call it the “clutch gene,” but some players have a tendency to perform better in pressure-packed situations.

That’s where Georgia quarterback Carson Beck will make-it, or break-it this season in the Bulldogs’ quest to win what would be their third national title in the past four seasons.

Beck had an outstanding 2023 season, passing for 3,941 yards while completing 72.4 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

But with the season on the line, Alabama’s Jalen Milroe made more pivotal plays, completing a critical fourth-down pass that led to an early TD and ripped off a 30-yard scramble to help ice the game in the fourth quarter.

Beck, uncharacteristically, under threw an open Arian Smith — resulting in a field goal instead of what would have been a touchdown — and was part of a botched exchange in the backfield that led to a Crimson Tide field goal.

To be fair, Beck, like any other quarterback, is only as good as his supporting cast, and both McConkey and Bowers were visibly slowed by injuries.

Beck and the Bulldogs will be counting on Florida transfer Trevor Etienne bringing added juice to the offense this season..

Etienne showed dynamic skills in the G-Day Game, tearing off impressive runs inside and outside the tackles, and catching the ball.

With Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey moved on, Beck will need a home run threat that can strike from all points of the field in multiple ways.

Indeed, having an X-Factor that can be moved around like Etienne will put pressure on defense, as he will need to be accounted for on every snap.

Defense matters too, of course, and Georgia fans have been treated to some amazing defensive playmakers under Kirby Smart, Roquan Smith, Chris Smith and Jalen Carter among them.

The 2024 Bulldogs are loaded with talent, too, but if the G-Day Game was any sort of indicator Mykel Williams has the look of becoming a train wrecker.

Williams, even with Malaki Starks and Smael Mondon out with injuries, was able to impact the spring scrimmage.

Th rising junior made six tackles and two pass breakups, including an impressive interception when he tipped a Beck pass to himself.

There will be different stars in different games for Georgia, but for the Bulldogs to be at their best, Beck, Etienne and Williams will need to be consistent — and clutch —contributors.