While I don’t think it’s as high-profile as his change of offensive coordinators, here’s another modification of Kirby Smart’s approach to offense that’s significant.
There aren’t as many empty seats in Georgia’s quarterback meeting room as there have been in the past and that’s a very good thing.
When Kirby Smart arrived at Georgia in 2016, he acted quickly and secured the signature of Jacob Eason, giving him three quarterbacks to start his first season as a head coach. The following season, UGA added Jake Fromm in the 2017 class to join Eason and Smart was able to convince Brice Ramsey to stick around after he considered transferring for his final year of eligibility.
When 2018 rolled around, Ramsey was out of eligibility and Stetson Bennett IV, who was offered a scholarship to stay, transferred to Jones County Community College (Ellisville, Miss.). Justin Fields joined the program in January of that year and it gave the Bulldogs just two scholarship signal callers on the roster.
Fields transferred to Ohio State a year later but Smart, once again, didn’t waste any time. He brought Bennett back on scholarship as a redshirt sophomore and flipped D’Wan Mathis from Ohio State to give the Bulldogs three quarterbacks on scholarship.
Now, in January of 2020, Smart has more quarterbacks than he ever has before and he’s clearly hoping to keep that number as high as possible. Fromm left early for the 2020 NFL Draft but the Bulldogs brought on Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman, the clear favorite to win the starting job, and signed four-star triggerman Carson Beck out of Mandarin High School (Jacksonville, Fla.) [Emphasis added.]
I tend to agree with Rowe’s assessment there. I don’t think Kirby was comfortable with his depth situation at the position last season and, given Newman’s ability to run the ball, it wouldn’t be sensible to play things that close to the vest this season, especially with Mathis’ health remaining in question.
Given transfer trends at the position, that’s likely another reason to carry more depth, but it also puts additional pressure on a staff to run a scheme that’s relatively easy for a college quarterback to master. We’ll see how good Monken is in that regard sooner rather than later, I suspect.