Georgia QBs Play Sparingly in Blowouts: Why?

Georgia handled business Saturday night against South Carolina, but there's a question about the usage, or lack thereof, of the team's young quarterbacks.
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Georgia handled its business against South Carolina Saturday night and many young players had the chance to play a few meaningful game reps. However, starting quarterback JT Daniels stayed in the game until the last kneeldown. That decision left many wondering: Why did true freshman quarterback Carson Beck not get any chance to throw the ball in a blowout game?

During head coach Kirby Smart's tenure at Georgia, this is nothing new.

Looking back at games the Bulldogs won with ease, Smart would either elect not to play the backup at all or have him simply hand it off. Perhaps the optics of running up the score by allowing the backup to pass was what he chose to avoid, but those are reps the backup doesn’t get a lot of chances to take.

During a normal week of practice before a game, the backup quarterback is working with the second-team offense and facing the second- or third-string defense. Even though the second unit would be playing with the backup quarterback during a blowout, he would still be able to face the other team's starting defense in a game.

How often has a backup quarterback thrown the ball under Smart?

In most games a backup quarterback had the chance to throw the ball, Georgia was playing what most would consider a “cupcake” game or against Georgia Tech.

Therefore, it is noted that without ample opportunity for this style of football games on the schedule, it's less likely that Georgia will "blow out" opponents. However, Georgia has handled business quickly in several games this season. 

2020

There have been four games this season where Georgia has won by 21 or more points and the backup quarterback has thrown the ball in only one of those games. Stetson Bennett was 20-for-29 for 211 yards against Arkansas. However, Bennett took over after D’Wan Mathis had six possessions, and Bennett remained the starter until he was injured against Florida.

2019

Georgia won six games by 21 or more points. In those six games, Bennett had 26 pass attempts, completing 20 for 260 yards in three games.

  • UGA 63 Murray State 17: Bennett was 9-for-13 for 124 yards and Nathan Priestley completed his only pass for two yards.
  • UGA 55 Arkansas State 0: Bennett was 9-for-10 for 109 yards.
  • UGA 52 Georgia Tech 7: Bennett was 2-for-3 for 27 yards.

2018

Georgia won seven games by more than 21 points. In those games, a backup quarterback threw the ball 46 times. However, a quarterback not named Justin Fields or Jake Fromm threw the ball 10 times in those seven games.

Fields came into the game randomly, not just at the end of a blowout. That will make the numbers a little more favorable for letting the backup throw the ball.

  • UGA 45 Georgia Tech 21: Fields was 2-for-3 for minus-13 yards.
  • UGA 66 UMASS 27: Fields was 5-for-8 for 121 yards while Matthew Downing was 4-for-4 for 48 yards.
  • UGA 41 Vanderbilt 13: Fields was 3-for-6 for 53 yards and Downing was 1-for-2 for 12 yards.
  • UGA 38 Tennessee 12: Fields was 1-for-2 for five yards.
  • UGA 49 Middle Tennessee 7: Fields was 6-for-8 for 71 yards and Downing was 1-for-1 for 24 yards.
  • UGA 41 South Carolina 17: Fields was 1-for-1 for 8 yards.
  • UGA 45 Austin Peay 0: Fields was 7-for-8 for 63 yards and Downing was 2-for-3 for four yards.

2017

 Georgia won 10 games by 21 points or more. In those games, a backup quarterback attempted eight passes combined in four of those games.

  • UGA 42 Samford 14: Brice Ramsey was 1-for-2 for 10 yards.
  • UGA 31 Appalachian State 10: Two Ramsey passes were incomplete.
  • UGA 41 Tennessee 0: Jacob Eason had one incompletion.
  • UGA 45 Vanderbilt 14: Eason was 3-for-3 for 24 yards.

Of Georgia's 25 members of the 2020 signing class, 17 have played this season. Beck is not one of those 17. And with Brock Vandagriff on his way to Athens, it would be beneficial for this coaching staff to get as many in-game looks at Beck as possible.

"Kids come to Georgia to play in the games." That was Kirby Smart when asked about Daijun Edwards's performance. And he's right, prospects do come to Georgia to play, including your quarterback prospects.