Georgia’s Carson Beck — the quarterback who didn’t transfer — is now in charge


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ATHENS, Ga. — There’s a world where Carson Beck isn’t even at Georgia right now, and it’s the realistic world, where quarterbacks with access to the transfer portal rarely get to their fourth year at a school if they have yet to ascend to the top of the depth chart. And yet here is Beck, finally taking over at Georgia, where he first enrolled way back in the spring of 2020.

“It’s been a long time. It’s felt even longer,” Beck said.

If they ever make a Stetson Bennett movie — and there’s a good chance they will — Beck will be a character. He will be the foil in the scene about the second week of the 2021 season when he was initially set to start against UAB but struggled so much in practice that offensive coordinator Todd Monken put Bennett in. And we know how the rest went.

The twist here, though, is Beck’s story didn’t end there. Hopefully, the scriptwriters don’t forget that: Rather than entering the portal in a huff — which, granted, would have been a better plot point — Beck stuck around, waited, and has a chance to keep building on Bennett’s legacy.

Not only that. Rather than resent the former walk-on who leapfrogged him two years ago, Beck is using Bennett as an example. Meeting the media Wednesday for the first time since officially being named Georgia’s starter, Beck was asked what his biggest takeaway was from watching Bennett the past two years.

“He got it the worst at quarterback. I think a lot of people really hated on him a lot,” Beck said. “You can see that all over the internet. And he just maintained and kept his head down and kept going. I’d say that’s the biggest thing that I learned from him is you’ve got to do you, be you, and it honestly doesn’t really matter about the noise that’s going on around you, as long as you control your actions and your effort.”

The two may be more alike than different, at least when it comes to their personalities. Neither is a rah-rah leader, and both learned to be comfortable with who they are. But they each also give off a kind of silent swagger that teammates embrace. Witness a video posted recently that led defensive tackle Warren Brinson to proclaim: “CB15 part of the culture.”

“Carson is wise, intelligent and a personality that I think the team draws to, because he’s relatively quiet and doesn’t show a lot of emotion,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “I think that they’ve embraced him and he’s done a great job in this fall camp.”

So Beck has the locker room, and he has the job. All that’s left is winning the national championship. There’s no reason to think he can’t do that. There’s also not much reason to know he will.

Beck has appeared in 11 college games and thrown 58 passes, six of them touchdowns. But none of those passes, none of those snaps, have been when the game was in doubt. (Unless you want to count the second game of the 2021 season, when he entered for a series when Georgia was up 14-0. But Beck didn’t throw his first pass until the score was 28-0.) All but two of his career attempts have been in the second half, and the only two he ever threw in the first half — during the 2021 season — were incomplete.

Georgia’s ability to blow so many teams out allowed Beck to see a decent amount of playing time. But Bennett’s ability to stay healthy the last two years meant that Beck’s handle of pressure moments is still in question. If you’re a Larry Munson-type worrisome Georgia fan, your mind may go back to that week of the UAB game in 2021 and wonder if it was a red flag about Beck’s readiness. Or did he just need a couple of years to mature?

One interesting nugget from Beck’s media session on Wednesday was his mention of third downs being an area of emphasis. That may be an early gauge of whether Beck has that clutch gene that made Bennett so special. It wasn’t just how Bennett played in crunch time, the fourth quarters of the national championship against Alabama and Peach Bowl against Ohio State. It was how he did on third downs: He moved the chains.

Per TruMedia, last season Bennett via the run or pass converted 51.3 percent of his third-down dropbacks into first downs, the highest rate in the SEC, better than not only Alabama’s Bryce Young (43.5 percent) but also Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud (43.4 percent). For his career, Bennett completed nearly 70 percent of his third-down passes (143-for-228) for 1,738 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Carson Beck waited patiently behind Stetson Bennett. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

Beck, meanwhile, has had a very limited sample in almost purely garbage time, but for what it’s worth he is 8-for-12 for 58 yards on third downs, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. There was also a scramble in there when the defense wasn’t expecting it, which they usually will not be. That is certainly not part of the Beck package the way it was with Bennett.

Beck does have the height, however, and he certainly won’t lack for weapons. There’s a tight end named Brock Bowers still around, along with a receiver named Ladd McConkey. There’s a deeper corps of receivers and more speed, including Dominic Lovett, the transfer from Missouri who will be an immediate weapon in the slot.

“We have multiple weapons he can hit you with,” Lovett said. “It’s like pick your poison. I feel like we’ve got everything the offense could need or want.”

Well, maybe not tailback depth, especially after the season-ending injury to Branson Robinson. That could put more of the onus on Beck, who was asked if he was looking at it as wanting that pressure, or did he just see himself as one guy on a very talented team?

“I mean each and everyone one of us has our own pressures, and our own pressures to fulfill,” Beck said. “I think the only thing I can do is be myself each and every day, and try to win every single day. We’ve got practice today and I’ll go out and focus on the reps that I have, each individual play, see what I can do best, then we’ll move on to the next day, and here on out.”

But the question Beck got the most was about why he kept sticking around. He acknowledged there are “always thoughts” about it when things aren’t going well and you’re not playing much. There was never a time, he claimed, when he decided he was leaving and had to be talked out of it. And the decision to stay was less business than personal, to hear Beck tell it, citing the camaraderie and connection they had at Georgia, which in conversations with players at other schools, he felt, set Georgia apart.

The Stetson Bennett story will always be one of the best in school history, maybe one of the best in college football history. Beck won’t be able to top that. But rather than being a bit part in that story, Beck has a chance to keep writing a pretty good one for himself.

“Sometimes it’s hard to be patient in the world where everything is so immediate. Everybody wants stuff now,” Beck said. “I’ve been grinding for four years, and to finally see that come to fruition and pay off, it’s obviously a really exciting time.”

(Top photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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