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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Five things we learned about Georgia’s quarterback competition

By Chip Towers - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

2023-03-15

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ATHENS — Georgia’s quarterback competition is off and running.

It began in earnest Tuesday on Woodruff Practice Fields with the first of 15 spring practices. Coach Kirby Smart said junior Carson Beck and sophomore Brock Vandagriff will split reps with the No. 1 offense and that their performances in the Bulldogs’ three spring scrimmages will go a long way to determining who will emerge as the clear starter heading into the summer.

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Beck has a significant edge in experience, though neither quarterback has much. Beck has appeared in 12 games – including seven last season – and completed 36 of 58 passes (62.1%) for 486 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions. He also has 58 yards rushing on 13 attempts.

Vandagriff has played in four games, has three pass attempts with no completions and has one 7-yard carry.

Smart was uncharacteristically detailed at Tuesday’s pre-spring media day handicapping the competition. Here are five things we learned:

1. Both quarterbacks have remade their bodies for the competition. The 6-foot-4 Beck has lost about 5 pounds and the 6-3 Vandagriff has gained about 12, so they were both about 215 pounds heading into Tuesday’s practice.

“So, they’re right at the same size. It’s hard to tell the differences between those two,” Smart said.

2. Smart said the narrative that Beck has the better arm and Vandagriff is more athletic is not necessarily true.

Smart: “I don’t think people give Carson enough credit for being a good athlete. He was a really good baseball player. He has great movement skills. He’s not going to run as fast as Stetson (Bennett). I think Brock is a good athlete who can see the field. Carson has probably played a little more, but both those guys are good.”

3. No, Georgia hasn’t forgotten about redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton. It’s just hard to divide live reps among three quarterbacks over 15 practices and be able to see enough of any of them.

Smart: “I wouldn’t count Gunner Stockton out of this thing because this kid is talented, smart. I got to see him on the scout team the entire year. We really saw him grow. When (Todd) Monken left, I asked him where he thought our quarterback room was. He was very adamant that we have three talented young quarterbacks. Excited about those guys.”

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4. The quarterbacks won’t have to learn a whole new playbook or very much terminology despite the transition from Monken to offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Bobo.

Smart: “There won’t be much change in verbiage. There will be some additions, maybe some slight wrinkles. (Bobo’s) comfortable with the verbiage. He was in it last year with coach Monken. Really, our entire offensive staff, you’ve got to remember when coach Monken got here, some of that verbiage remained the same, too. So, it wasn’t like it was a total transformation of language. … The decision was the continuity we have on offense, we want to keep that going. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Mike and the job he’s done with offenses in the past.”

5. Coaches assign a plus or minus to every play run in practice and assign a grade for that day, but scrimmage performances ultimately will determine pecking order.

Smart: “I’d like to have a guy that started for a year or two years being your quarterback. We don’t have that, so we have a competition. So, we have to figure out who is going to perform the best in that competition, and that comes from scrimmages. We’ve got, I think, three Saturday scrimmages including G-Day that’ll go a long way to telling where they are, but that’s never the total story, right? We’ve got two spring practices before we play our first game (and) 26 or 28 practices in fall camp that’ll tell a lot more.”

Comments about the quarterbacks among the players available at media day on Tuesday were predictable.

“Obviously (Beck), Brock, Gunner, all our quarterbacks, were able to see what Stetson did and how he led us,” junior flanker Ladd McConkey said. “I feel like all of them can feed off that and learn some things and also bring some other things that Stet might not have had that they have and bring that to the table. So, yeah, we’re super excited. I’m ready to see them all compete in the spring. I know they’re going to get after it.”

Said senior running back Kendall Milton: “Yeah, Carson, I’ve always known that he was a really smart player. I’ve seen him dissect the offense and know everybody’s job and be able to break it down to our receivers or running backs. I know he knows the offense in and out. … Brock Vandagriff is the same way, a very smart player. The one thing about Brock, those legs, they’ll catch you by surprise. Brock can move, but he also has that arm as well. I’m excited to see those guys battle it out through the spring.”

Dawg Tags: The AJC presents a daily look at the one thing you need to know about Georgia athletics today.

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