Carson Beck handling bigger role well after Georgia built around him in offseason

On3 imageby:Palmer Thombs04/01/24

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ATHENS, Ga. — Carson Beck‘s return to Georgia for 2024 shaped the offseason for the Bulldogs, and their team success could be dependent on his development too. After building the offense around the star quarterback with five new weapons out of the transfer portal, Kirby Smart and company are hoping he can build on his first year as a starter and take strides forward in a second season.

Smart spent time last week talking about his quarterback and what all went into getting him to return. According to the head coach, the two sat down late last season after the SEC Championship Game and laid out a plan for what this year would look like. Both Smart and Beck knew that the NFL was on the table, but at the same time, both parties could benefit from another year together too.

“The discussions were very controlled. He was very thoughtful about it. It was business like,” Smart said during a radio interview on 92.9 The Game. “He’s talking about the rest of his career, and he had a tough decision because he played well enough at the end of the year to ascend and move up. A lot of people thought that during the Draft process, he would move up because of the style of offense he played in fits right in to what these NFL teams want to do. They know he’s really intelligent. He’s already played in a system that’s with the Baltimore Ravens and Coach Monken, and Mike (Bobo)’s added some things.”

“The talks were easy. He went about it the right way,” he continued. “He included his mom, his quarterback coach from home. The most important thing is he wanted to do it in a timely manner to where it could affect other receivers. We were losing some receivers to the draft, Ladd, Rosemy, Brock as a receiver and we needed to replenish some of those receivers. If he was going to have an impact on his team, he needed to make this decision and move on so we could get some guys out of the portal. That part was good, and the first thing I thought about when he said he was staying was, ‘Who’s going to be next? What’s Gunner going to do? How are we going to manage the situation in terms of, are we going to take somebody else in the portal, are we going to sign somebody else?’ You’re always looking at who’s going to be next more than you are who’s current.”

Beck announced his decision to return on December 18th. Georgia used that to sell a vision to a trio of transfer receivers – London Humphreys, Colbie Young and Michael Jackson III – while also adding pieces around the pass catchers. Running back Trevor Etienne and tight end Ben Yurosek are expected to be key contributors to what could be one of the nation’s top offenses this fall.

Having been through the gauntlet that is a season in the SEC before, Beck told reporters this spring about an improved sense of confidence. He knows what to expect, and that’s earned the respect of his teammates. They have seen what he’s capable of and know that something special could be possible for the 2024 team.

“He’s ‘Mr. Mellow’ out there. The guys in the locker room love him because he’s confident, calm and very smart,” Smart said about Beck during a sitdown with ESPN’s Chris Low. “Even though he’s got a little bit of arrogance to him, he’s not holier than thou like you see with some quarterbacks.”

“Early in the year last season, we probably did try to protect him too much,” he added. “But then you see nothing ever really affects him and know you’ve just got to let the cat go play because we were either going to make it or not make it on his back. As the year went on, he got better and better, but we were probably a little too slow with him out of the gate.”

Beck, a finalist for the Manning Award and an All-SEC Second-Team selection, finished 2023 with nearly 4,000 yards (3,941) – good for third most in the nation and first in the SEC. He did that on a school record 72.4% completion rate, throwing for 24 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

Beck enters his second season as a starter with big expectations. Many look at him as the potential top quarterback in next year’s draft class. Vegas oddsmakers have him as the co-favorite to take home the Heisman Trophy. It’s certainly a lot of pressure, but for ‘Mr. Mellow,’ who took an easy, controlled approach to the biggest decision of his life, it seems like something he’ll be able to handle just fine.

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