Georgia’s Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff locked in tight No. 2 QB competition

ATHENS – The battle to be the next quarterback in after Stetson Bennett continues in Georgia’s preseason camp, and it’s going to be a close call between Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff.

At issue is the inherent differences in the two quarterbacks. Beck, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore, is a little more of a pocket passer and quick-throw ball distributor. Vandagriff, a 6-3, 205-pound redshirt freshman, flourishes more on the move and keeps the defense guessing on the basis of pass-run conflict. Both, coach Kirby Smart said, have been impressive throwing the ball this year.

One or the other will be the first in the game after Bennett, a sixth-year senior who, by all accounts, is having a phenomenal camp.

“Well, they’re different; they’re two different guys,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ completed their second and final scrimmage of the preseason Saturday at Sanford Stadium. “They each possess different parts of what Stetson does well. So, the thought process there is we want to find out who’s the best guy, who gives you the best opportunity to win against who you’re playing, what are the packages you’re running, what are you carrying over from Stetson and how does it fit with those two guys?”

Beck was an eyelash away from becoming the Bulldogs’ starter last year. He was slated to take over for JT Daniels in the second game last season after Daniels aggravated a back injury in the opener. But then Bennett outplayed Beck in the week of practice leading into the Alabama-Birmingham game, and he justified Todd Monken’s decision passing for four touchdowns in the first half against the Blazers.

Beck would see limited action in that game and three others. He finished 176 yards on 10-of-23 passing for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Vandagriff got only mop-up duty in two games, and attempted only one pass, which fell incomplete.

“They continue to do a good job,” Smart said. “Carson has more of a body of work in terms of the (second-team) reps than Brock has. But they’ve both done a tremendous job, and they both are ready to go.”

As long as Bennett remains healthy, neither Beck nor Vandagriff likely will see action in a contest with an undecided outcome. As much as Bennett established himself as Georgia’s quarterback last season while winning MVP honors in the Orange Bowl and national championship game while leading the Bulldogs’ to the title, he has further solidified his status as the offensive leader with his commitment and performance in offseason workouts and camp.

Smart singled out Bennett for standing out in Saturday’s scrimmage. The 5-11, 190-pound quarterback hooked up with junior slot receiver Dominick Blaylock on an impressive scoring play against the No. 1 defense and continued to display improved accuracy and enhanced decision-making, and he actually looks quicker running with the football.

Otherwise, Smart said the offense showed “less explosivity” than in the first scrimmage a week ago. Saturday’s simulated game-simulation workout represented the final preseason tune-up that will determine what is the early-season travel squad for Oregon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the season opener and for Georgia’s other early-season opponents.

“We’re reassessing our team and our roster,” Smart said of the next steps. “We’re going to look at the numbers and say, ‘if we had to go on the road in the SEC, who are our 70? Who are the 80, who are the 85? Where do those numbers fall and what are the decisions we have to make?”

It has become increasingly clear that Beck and Vandagriff will rank among that number. Freshman Gunner Stockton likely will be on the bus as well, just not as likely to see action. Both Beck and Vandagriff got first-team reps Saturday.

“All three quarterbacks are doing an excellent job,” Smart said. “I’m so pleased with their progression, all the way down to Gunner, who hasn’t had as many reps. Certainly, Carson and Brock are ahead of where Gunner is. Both those guys play winning football.”