Georgia’s Carson Beck readies for first SEC Championship game as starting QB

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) gets past Georgia Tech linebacker Braelen Oliver (4) during the fourth quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Saturday, November 25, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia won 31-23. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Georgia quarterback Carson Beck (15) gets past Georgia Tech linebacker Braelen Oliver (4) during the fourth quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Saturday, November 25, 2023, in Atlanta. Georgia won 31-23. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

ATHENS — Quarterback Carson Beck is no stranger to Alabama or the SEC Championship game.

A Crimson Tide commit for more than six months, Beck switched his commitment to Georgia during his junior year of high school in 2019.

Saturday will mark the fourth meeting of the schools in Beck’s time in Athens, but it will be the first time he will start against the Crimson Tide.

“When I made my decision to come here, I knew that at some point when I did have my opportunity that we were going to have the chance to play in big-time games like this on a big-time stage,” Beck said. “Obviously, (I’m) super excited and stoked for the opportunity and the challenge that awaits us.”

Beck has steadily improved throughout the season, anchoring strong offensive performances like a 24-for-30 outing in a 38-10 win against Tennessee on Nov. 18 and a blistering 52-17 beatdown of then-No. 11 Ole Miss on Nov. 11.

The dynamic players around Beck — running back Kendall Milton, tight end Brock Bowers, a strong offensive line and others — have built strong connections with him on and off the field. But these ties and Beck’s confidence have taken time and effort to create, his teammates said.

Credit: Sarah K. Spencer/AJC

Milton said it hasn’t always been a “smooth, happy ride” for Beck, and he watched Beck experience disappointment earlier in his career.

It’s a process to gain confidence, Milton said. He’s seen the growth first-hand with Beck this season, saying the quarterback looks more comfortable, from his pocket presence to his throwing.

This change took place week over week, center Sedrick Van Pran said.

“Carson has done a tremendous job of having a process, growing this season, week by week getting better,” Van Pran said. “That’s the biggest thing besides God that allows him to carry himself in the manner he does.”

Coach Kirby Smart said Beck has “grown up and gotten better” this season. His confidence has come with more playing time and difficult road games, Smart said.

Beck said it felt like a “work in progress” earlier this season. He said the second half against South Carolina on Sept. 16 — when the Bulldogs outscored the Gamecocks 21-0 — was a turning point where he became more comfortable and the offense began to “pick up steam.”

“I think our confidence shot up from there,” Beck said.

Beck will now turn his attention to facing the Crimson Tide. While his connection with Alabama was brief, he said coach Nick Saban “sets a standard” and Georgia is a similar program in terms of ideals and beliefs.

A date with Alabama will be a test with plenty on the line for the Bulldogs, including their 29-game winning streak and College Football Playoff chances.

The win streak isn’t something Beck thinks about, but the weekly goal remains the same for Beck and his teammates.

“I think we’ve done a really good job at keeping the main thing the main thing and focusing on each opponent week to week, and just trying to go 1-0 as each game presents itself,” Beck said.