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Michigan and Georgia Have Interesting Quarterback Situations Heading Into 2022 Spring Practice

In college football, the quarterback often dictates the winner of a major game, and that’s why Michigan and Georgia have some questions to answer about their starting signal caller.

To win a National Title in today’s era of college football, there needs to be a quality quarterback behind center. Even Stetson Bennett, the much maligned signal caller turned hero for now defending National Champion Georgia, had to raise his game during the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs to claim their first championship since 1980. Those fourth quarter throws he made were money balls, and he deserves all the credit for each one of them.

That said, he’s still not a 100% lock to take all the snaps for the Bulldogs next fall, as Bennett had the advantage of the best overall roster in college football to work with and he’s going to be pushed by more talented quarterbacks on Georgia’s roster. As of the time of the writing of this article, Bennett had yet to even officially declare that he was coming back. Oddly enough, backup J.T. Daniels already entered the Transfer Portal.

As for Bennett’s talent helping Georgia to a title, he is the exception, not the rule, when it comes to pure talent needed at quarterback to win championships. Most teams are going to need a more physically capable playmaker making the throws; more power with arm strength in particular. He’s a microcosm of why there could be some college quarterbacks demoted and/or splitting time with younger, more talented players with higher ceilings.

With spring football around the corner, 2022 presents several intriguing quarterback battles at major brand names like Michigan and Georgia. College Football Playoffs semi-finalist Michigan does not guarantee last year’s starter, Cade McNamara, will be the starter this fall. That’s where this conversation begins, with the Wolverines, before moving on to Georgia.

Note: eligibility includes the NCAA-allotted COVID year of eligibility that’s been granted to every player from the 2020 season.


2021 Starter: Cade McNamara, redshirt sophomore

McNamara’s Statistics: 210/327, 64.2%, 2,576 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. As a runner, McNamara provided almost nothing as a runner, and that’s the crux of the argument for the up-and-coming sophomore J.J. McCarthy.

McNamara had 37 carries for just 26 yards on the season. In short, he’s a pocket quarterback. The Wolverines could be more dynamic with McCarthy in the lineup. McCarthy played in every game in 2021 and was pretty good for a true freshman. What could he do as the full-time starter?

As a backup, McCarthy’s statistics: 34/59, 57.6%, 516 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. As a runner, he’s elusive and nimble. 27 carries for 124 yards and two scores.

There have been strong rumblings about McCarthy taking over the job in 2022. The questions: does he deserve that after what McNamara did in 2021? When would he be given full autonomy of the offense?

If Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh hands him the starting nod at the end of spring practice, it’s a fairly safe bet that McNamara at least strongly considers hitting the Transfer Portal. On the flip side, if Coach Harbaugh leaves it an open competition, that still may not be enough. This is a dilemma that college head coaches go through. There’s no easy way to manipulate this situation, and Coach Harbaugh could have tough conversations ahead of him with his two primary signal callers.


2021 starter: Stetson Bennett, sixth-year senior

Bennett’s statistics: 185/287, 64.5%, 2,862 yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. When running the football, Bennett’s savviness allowed him to make a lot of plays and keep the chains moving. Even against Alabama, Bennett produced a few critical runs for positive yards and also moved the pocket to keep plays alive before launching a pass down the field.

Who might challenge Bennett this spring? Well, with Daniels departing, there are two likely names to watch (assuming one or both of them do not leave as well). Despite going into his third season in Athens, Ga., Carson Beck will still be a redshirt freshman. He's talented and has more of the prototypical size that one would expect from a SEC starting quarterback. Beck is 6’4”, 215-pounds.

While only playing in three games this past season, he’s now the likely No. 1 challenger to Bennett because he’s been in the system for two years and likely knows the playbook fairly well. His 10/23 for 43.5% completion percentage leaves much to be desired, but Beck did not receive the same level of repetitions in practice as Bennett. That could change. Beyond that, Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart knows he must have a backup quarterback ready in case Bennett goes down to injury. There’s also another challenger, and he’s a big-time talent.

Local product Brock Vandagriff has a strong arm, is very mobile, and was once now Southern California Head Coach Lincoln Riley’s top recruit before switching over to the Bulldogs. The issue, he was just 0/1 last season has basically no experience.

Even so, the redshirt freshman has natural mobility combined with the natural throwing motion that make him an intriguing third option for Coach Smart and his offensive coaches. In short, the 6’3”, 205-pound Vandagriff has the physical tools to be an elite college quarterback. Will he get an honest chance to compete for the Georgia quarterback job this spring?

Georgia has as many quarterback questions as any team in the country. Who’s staying? Who’s leaving? Is this a two-man or three-man quarterback situation? Will Coach Smart simply anoint Bennett as the starter if he decides to return for another season?

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All in all, Georgia is a great example of how college football will see several quarterback battles through spring practice that intrigue Bulldogs fans and fans around the country.

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