It’s a balmy April morning, and the first month of the rest of the college football offseason. I’m also reliably informed that there’s a golf tournament in the Peach State this week.
It’s technically the off-season, but the Bulldogs were nonetheless inside the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium this weekend for the first scrimmage of spring practice.
The three-headed race to replace Stetson Bennett remains the biggest story of spring. And we now have some tentative information from which to judge the competition.
Junior Carson Beck and sophomore Brock Vandagriff took snaps with the first and second strings, while redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton worked with the second and third strings this weekend, per the AJC’s Mike Griffith and a variety of other sources. Some may be worried by the news that Beck threw three interceptions on the day, including one returned for a touchdown by Javon Bullard.
I’m less concerned for a couple of reasons. One, as we all know by now the Bulldog quarterbacks are facing a defense in practice that’s better than just about any they’ll see this fall. But even more importantly, I suspect this scrimmage was about pushing the quarterbacks in terms of decision-making and execution. The whole point of a spring quarterback battle is to figure out exactly where each contender’s engine red line is and see if he can still move the offense down the highway when it’s crossed. I’d pay more attention to the reports that Carson Beck looked more in command of the offense and the huddle than the stats themselves.
For his part, Kirby Smart remains characteristically noncommittal about how things are going.
I continue to believe that Carson Beck is your likely fall starter. He’s by far the most experienced of the three signal callers. He’s got the arm strength. The only potential knock on Beck is that he’s not the running threat Bennett was (or that Vandagriff and Stockton are). And as Kirby acknowledged following this year’s undefeated title run, Bennett changed the way he thinks about the quarterback position in some ways. A QB who can tuck it and run without thereby creating a huge turnover risk is like a turbo charger on an already powerful offense. It would be nice to continue to have that threat.
But Kirby Smart is going to privilege command of the huddle and command of the offense over dynamism every time. He’s a first principles kind of guy. And the first principle for Kirby Smart is “don’t screw up the defense’s good work by doing something dumb on offense.” If Beck is the least likely to do dumb things with the football, he’s absolutely your starter against Tennessee-Martin.
In addition to G Day and the Masters April also promises what has become another high holiday of the Bulldog sporting calendar: the NFL Draft. Pro Football Focus’s latest mock draft has three former ‘Dawgs going in the first round, which if anything may be undercounting. Make no mistake, if you enjoy watching the Athenians’ rivals become absolutely nauseous over the continuing success of Bulldog football this year’s draft is going to be must-see TV.
Further away from the gridiron, the #15 Bulldog softball team remains on a tear, taking a weekend series from #16 Kentucky to run their current win streak to 11 games and their SEC record to 9-1.
And in case you missed it, Bulldog golfer Jenny Bae (with UGA golf coach Josh Brewer on her bag) very nearly pulled off a legendary win at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday.
And finally, if your favorite sport is dipping hot French fries in luxurious feta dip, there’s reason for celebration as well. Athens staple the Grill is re-opening after a protracted absence, and I for one will be lifting a triumphal patty melt as soon as the opportunity arises. Until later . . .