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Kirby Smart wants more leadership from Carson Beck, QB answers the call

Palmber-Thombsby:Palmer Thombs06/05/24

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Georgia’s got a special quarterback at the helm this season, and Kirby Smart knows it. Heisman Trophy favorite Carson Beck returns for his second year as the UGA starter after taking over for a two-time national championship winner in 2023. Beck, a former four-star who had waited his turn, took advantage of the long-anticipated opportunity to the tune of 3,941 yards, 24 touchdowns and a school-record 72.4% completion rate. He finished third nationally in passing yards and is the country’s top returning quarterback in that category. Needless to say, the Bulldog quarterback has high hopes for 2024, but Smart wants to see even more.

“Yeah, his leadership of the wideouts and the offense. He was in complete command of it (last year), but there were times I think he knows that he could say, ‘You know what, I can step up and be a bigger voice and a bigger leader,'” the Georgia head coach shared at SEC Spring Meetings last week in Destin. “We had a lot of veteran players on that offense that had played a lot more than him. Now we don’t. He is the veteran that has played the most and has the most command. He’ll do a good job doing that.”

It’s not the first time this offseason Beck has been the topic of conversation for Smart. He admitted to ESPN’s Chris Low that Georgia probably tried to “protect” the first-year starter too much at times last year. “We were probably a little too slow with him out of the gate,” Smart said. He also told Greg McElroy and Cole Cubelic at the Regions Tradition that adding wrinkles to Georgia’s offense that fit what Beck is best at has been an emphasis of the offseason.

Smart is saying all the right things about a quarterback entering his first offseason as a returning starter. If you recall the jump Stetson Bennett made from 2021 to 2022, Bennett was much more comfortable in his role and got to spend the summer working with his wide receivers in a way only an established starter can.

Beck is hoping to have a similar sort of jump from 2023 to 2024. He was around to watch Bennett take strides and knows how important it’ll be to develop chemistry with his receivers in the offseason. He was seen recently in Jacksonville working with the likes of Dominic Lovett, Dillon Bell, Colbie Young and Oscar Delp – something that’s a great sign for a team looking to replace its leading receiver of the last three seasons and three of the top five pass catchers from 2023.

“I think a lot of chemistry was built, but where the chemistry really gets going is over the summer when we’re in here working out without the coaches,” Beck said after Georgia’s spring game. “What can we do when coaches aren’t there, are we going to come in on the weekend and get reps? Are we going to get reps? Are we going to watch film? Are they going to understand what I want them to do and vice versa? I think that chemistry will continue to build.”

“There’s a lot of guys that are hungry,” he added. “There’s a lot of guys that maybe haven’t gotten to their full potential yet, haven’t gotten to where they want to reach. There’s a lot of guys that want to work, want to be physical. That’s our brand of ball at Georgia … Super, super excited to start getting to work with these guys this summer.”

Beck and the Bulldogs are expected to be the preseason top-ranked team entering the fall. They open the 2024 season in Atlanta against ACC favorite Clemson on August 31st (12:00 p.m. ET, ABC).

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