Kirby Smart discusses Georgia's QB battle as spring practices kick off
Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs have won back-to-back national championships with Stetson Bennett IV at quarterback.
But now the former walk-on’s storybook career is continuing on to the NFL, so the Bulldogs need a new QB1 heading into the 2023 season as they go for a 3-peat.
On Tuesday, as Georgia kicks off spring practices, Smart was asked about the QB situation.
Smart said the quarterbacks would not be full-contact this spring, but added that Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff would split reps with the first team:
Kirby Smart on Brock Vandagriff and Carson Beck: "I think those guys would argue who has the stronger arm … Brock is a really good athlete. Brock has added about 14 or 15 pounds of muscle … And Carson has lost a little weight, so they're right at the same size"
— Jordan D. Hill (@JordanDavisHill) March 14, 2023
Smart did say that the battle is wide open, cautioning assembled media members not to count Gunner Stockton out of the competition just yet:
Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff will share first-team reps to start spring, per Kirby Smart, who also says: "I wouldn't count Gunner Stockton out of this thing."
— Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) March 14, 2023
Beck received the most reps as Bennett’s backup in 2022, although playing time behind the decorated starter was incredibly limited. Beck completed 26 of his 35 pass attempts for 310 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He also ran 7 times for 43 yards.
Vandagriff went 0-for-2 passing and ran 1 time for 7 yards.
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Good job Coach. Keep em all here thru December.
Beck and Vandagriff will both be starters in 2023
I just hope it’s at UGa…
IMO IMO IMO IMO IMO
Based on all the articles and comments I’ve read to date Beck is the 2023 starter unless Vandagriff (or Stockton) just really kills it in spring practice and fall camp. Or, Beck gets injured.
Vandagriff will give it the old college try this Spring and if he doesn’t win the job then he transfers. Seems Vandagriff kind of telegraphed that in a recent interview when he explained that it was beneficial for him to hang around at UGA and learn from Monken even though he wasn’t playing.
Shy of Vandagriff really taking a huuuuge step in his 3rd year looks like Beck is the man for the immediate future and Stockton is the future beyond Beck.
I’m guessing Vandagriff would have some grade A options if he were to enter the TP – UF, TAMU, FSU, AU, Ole Miss, Oregon etc. I’m sure Vandagriff would get wined and dined by the best and all them telling him how he will be a Day-1 starter and how they will develop him.
I’m happy with what I’ve seen from Carson. Brock, not so much, but it’s been a very limited sample size. Heed Kirby’s words – Gunner is not an afterthought here. He has a Stetson-like grit – only he’s 6’1”, 220. Owns most Georgia HS career QB records, and finished just shy of breaking Trevor Lawrence’s total passing yards. And he’s the most mobile of the three. He’s in play.
Concur MD, I do believe no matter who wins the battle this season, Gunner is our future star from 2024 and beyond…of the 3 he is the one I least want to see TP out…
At the beginning of their Jr. HS football seasons Gunner and Vandagriff were pitted against each other in a GPTV televised showdown – Rabun Co. vs Prince Avenue. Very good game with both QB’s putting on a good show; Stockton and Rabun Co were the winners. Both QB’s acquitted themselves very well but I’d give Stockton the edge in that game; he appeared to be the better runner of the two. That was my introduction to Stockton, the kid USCar, Bobo and Connor Shaw were recruiting heavily. I watched Vandagriff play 3 more times, all in-person.
Between Stockton and Bennett it’s hard to say who the better runner is but at the HS level Stockton was a better runner than most blue chip, HS All-American RB’s. Stockton also showed a lot of arm talent in the game making short throws, deep throws and demonstrating a lot of touch. Stockton definitely displayed some open field, breakaway speed. Not sure Stockton can juke and jive like Bennett can with that dead leg cut but I’d guess that Stockton is the better open field runner. Stockton is definitely the more physical runner, with his build he looked like a prototypical RB in high school.
Vandagriff is definitely an elite athlete and very mobile. When Vandagriff assumes a starting QB roll no doubt he will be able to extend plays with his feet and keep defenses honest with a very real and potent threat to pull the ball down and run, or, on designed QB runs. Vandagriff looked very good in the games I watched but in a play-off game I attended the kid was making one elite throw after another while shredding the defense when he ran the ball.
Between Stockton and Vandagriff seems it will come down to the intangibles – who learns the play book best, who is the best leader in the locker room etc. Seems that Kirby really appreciates QB’s who make their bones on the Scout Team (i.e. J-TD and Bennett) and Kirby heaped praise on Stockton for his Scout team work this pas season.
One of the most magical things Stet did at QB was avoid the pass rush. The O-lines he played behind were very good, but he was responsible for much of the limited sack numbers.
Those sacks are usually drive-killers, and I’d venture that at least 25 drives were kept alive the past two seasons solely due to Stetson’s slipperiness. That’s huge. If Gunner can come close to replicating that keep-the-drive-alive moxy, the competition could get very interesting.
What is overlooked is that, as the scout team QB, Gunner probably got more live-action reps last year than Carson and Brock put together. That is not a small thing at this point, and I believe may be the reason Kirby said what he did about him.
Speaking of being UGA’s scout team QB
What better practice and “growing up” environment is there for a QB trying to adapt to the speed and complexity of college football than being UGA’s scout QB?
The UGA scout QB literally goes against the best defense in college, dozens of future NFL players, on a daily basis. Reps against All Americans, All SEC players, Thorpe Award Winners, Butkus Awards winners, Outland Award winners, Bednarik Award winners, CFP Def. MVP’s, NC Def. MVP’s, #1 NFL draft picks, 1st round draft picks etc. etc. – literally the best of the best.
How many college QB’s get that kind of experience? What better prep is there than reps against the best of the best?
What’s the value of that kind of experience – Priceless
I don’t disagree with either of you all’s position on the scout QB getting live reps which are big.
But it can not be overstated because they’re running very specific schemes a lot of the time so it’s not indicative of their ability to run the UGA offense.
That’s a fair point. The scout team tries to replicate the offense our team will be facing. We have a great problem in our QB room…sure beats the does Dwan start again if Stetson can’t go days…
Jay, true – but my thinking on that it is: if you can absorb and successfully replicate a different offense every week for the D, the core UGA scheme can’t be that difficult to master for a QB.
The main skill the scout team QB builds with all those reps is identifying coverage and pressure. That’s some invaluable experience, especially, as TDOW said, against the best of the best.
However it goes with QB, I hope Bobo has taken to heart the value of motion under Monk, and keeps it as an integral part of his offense. TCU players admitted that they were completely flummoxed by all the motion UGA threw at them, and were often fooled and misaligned.
I suggested Brock might start at some point in 2023 and Corch bit my head off. Told me I didn’t know what I was talking and I was a star f***er
But here he is..splitting reps with the first team…..
We shall see at the end of Spring. Seems Beck is QB1 until one of the other two shows otherwise. Stockton getting a lot of praise early for his Stetish style of play. Vandagriff with limited game time sample size is athletic but sometimes looks lost (mental aspect). It will be interesting to see if he’s improved enough to challenge or just biding time to hit the portal post Spring?
Just based on the game I saw in Columbia, Missouri last year, It might be helpful to rethink this corner of the play-book and personnel. … But with Smart as the orchestra director, I wouldn’t spend too much time on it.