Georgia Football: Cracking Kirby Smart’s QB Code

Some of the sports media and fans believe Georgia football Head Coach Kirby Smart mismanages quarterbacks, but is that factual?

Georgia football head coach Kirby Smart has come under scrutiny for how he manages his quarterbacks. After getting five-star rated recruits Jacob Eason and Justin Fields both transferred out to other schools. Smart chose to start Jake Fromm over both of them. The decision would get Georgia to a National Championship Game in 2017. However, doubt about his choice would begin to set in the following season.

Then in 2020, Smart was able to get former five-star quarterback JT Daniels to transfer into his program. Daniels was recovering from an ACL injury and was unable to play. Once cleared to play Smart delayed activating Daniels and instead remained with Stetson Bennett as his starting quarterback.

Once Daniels was up to speed with Georgia’s offense and also caught up on his conditioning he would take the starting job from Bennett. However, Daniels would again lose the starting job to Bennett in 2021 because of another injury. Once healthy Smart would not just hand the job back over to Daniels this time. Bennett had won the job for good and led Georgia football to its first National Championship win in 41 years.

However, some sports media personalities and even Georgia football fans wonder why Smart continues to start quarterbacks that aren’t perceived to be as talented as those they are starting over. The base of this confusion mainly comes from those whose evaluation of talent begins and ends with recruiting site ratings.

This is a common misconception of how things in the sports world actually work. Recruiting ratings do not tell you how big a kid’s heart is, how much he is willing to work, what his football IQ is, or if he is coachable. There is a lot that goes into the evaluation process that is left out of recruiting ratings.

One such trait, and possibly the most important trait to Georgia football’s head coach, is taking care of the football. Smart comes from a defensive background. He has a defensive mindset. The last thing he wants to do is to give the ball to the other team.

Let’s look at the interception rates of Georgia’s quarterbacks from 2021.

  • Stetson Bennet – 2.4%
  • JT Daniels – 3.2%
  • Carson Beck – 8.7%

As you can see, Bennett, who was named the starting quarterback, has the lowest interception rate of all the quarterbacks that played last season. In fact, Carson Beck turned over the ball at four times the rate that Bennett did.

This is why Bennett is the starting quarterback for Georgia football. The national sports media and Georgia fans may want a more flashy quarterback back there, but that is not what is important to Smart. The most important thing to Smart is the guy that gives the TEAM a better chance to win.

As Smart said back in 2019 “Team means Together Everyone Achieves More.” Smart isn’t looking for his Heisman Trophy winner. Smart is looking for a field general that can lead his troops and not allow the ball to fall into enemy hands. That’s it. That is all he wants in his starting quarterback.

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