ATHENS – The best thing about Georgia beating its opponents by an average score of 43-3 so far this season is it means a lot of players have been able to play so far. That extends, of course, to quarterbacks.
Redshirt sophomore Carson Beck, at this point the Bulldogs’ clear No. 2 quarterback, has played extensively in all three of Georgia’s game. And he has played well while on the field.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Beck actually has a higher quarterback rating than starter Stetson Bennett, which certainly makes a strong statement. Beck carries a 192.38 quarterback efficiency rating coming into Saturday’s home game against Kent State. Beck does not, however, meet the minimums to be included in the national rankings.
Bennett suddenly is getting serious Heisman Trophy mention because of his exemplary play thus far. His quarterback efficiency rating of 183.49 ranks second among SEC quarterbacks (Vanderbilt’s A.J. Swann is first) and is 11th overall in FBS.
According to ESPN’s quarterback rating, which is computed differently, Bennett is No. 1 among SEC quarterbacks and fifth nationally with a QBR of 92.9 (on a scale of 100). He has completed 73.86% of his passes for 952 yards and five touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception. Bennett also has a rushing TD in each of Georgia’s three games with 31 yards on eight attempts (3.9 ypc).
Beck is getting it done as well. He has completed 78.95% of his passes so far -- or only four incompletions in 19 attempts – for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He completed a 28-yard pass for a touchdown to freshman tight end Oscar Delp in third quarter against South Carolina this past Saturday. He was 5-of-6 for 55 yards for the game.
Beck showed against South Carolina he has some wheels, too. He broke off a career-long 20-yard run and finished it with authority, lowering his shoulder and plowing into a Gamecocks’ defensive back at the end of the run. He had 25 yards rushing on two attempts for the day.
Beck has been on the field in all three of Georgia’s games and is being turned loose when he does. And he should get more work this Saturday against the Golden Flashes (1-2). They’ll come to Sanford Stadium as 44-point underdogs, according to early lines on the game posted overnight Sunday.
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken is calling some pass plays when Beck gets in this season. He was 5-of-6 for 71 yards and a TD against Oregon and 5-of-7 for 52 yards against Samford.
Beck got into just three games all year for the Bulldogs as a redshirt freshman last season. He was being considered for a starting role when he entered in the first half of the UAB game last September. He completed just 4-of-10 passes for 88 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Bennett started and went 10-of-12 for 288 yards and threw five first-half touchdowns in the same game.
Beck’s other two appearances in 2021 came in mop-up duty against Vanderbilt (1-of-3 passing for 11 yards, 1 run for 2 yards) and Charleston Southern (5-of-10 passing for 77 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT, and 2 carries for 11 yards).
Redshirt freshman Brock Vandagriff is the only other quarterback to play for Georgia so far. He has mostly handed off, failing to complete a pass on two attempts and rushing for seven yard on two carries. True freshman Gunner Stockton has yet to play and did not travel to South Carolina.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart hasn’t really addressed Georgia’s quarterback beyond Bennett since the final week of preseason practice.
“I’m so pleased with the progression of those guys, all the way down to Gunner, who hasn’t had as many reps in our system or in general as Brock and Carson have,” Smart said in late August. “… In our practices, I’d say 80 percent of the time, there’s two quarterbacks on the field because we’re doing multiple things. So that helps the development of those guys. But certainly, Carson and Brock are ahead of where Gunner is. Both of those guys are different, but they both play winning football.”
However you break it down, the Bulldogs’ quarterbacks are playing well, as is Georgia’s offense by association. The Bulldogs are scoring more points (43.3 pg) and gaining more yards (532.2) than they were through three games last season (35.3 and 428.6). For the season last year, the national champion Bulldogs averaged 38.6 points and 442.5 yards.
To date, Georgia has not turned the ball over in three games. Beyond that, both Bennett and Beck are playing exceptionally well.
“You just jinxed us,” Smart said of no turnovers. “We have to keep that going. It’s good. It allows us to be elite.”
Player: Games, rating, comp-att-int, TDs, %, yards, long, avg/g
Bennett: 3, 183.49, 65-88-0, 5, 73.86, 952, 78, 317.33
Beck: 3, 192.38, 15-19-0, 2, 78.95, 178, 28, 59.33
Vandagriff: 2, 000.00, 0-2-0, 0, 00.00, 0, 0, 0
Totals: 3, 180.02, 80-110-0, 7, 72.73, 78, 376.67
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