Carson Beck has won the Georgia starting quarterback battle, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart announced on Saturday. Beck, a junior, is in his fourth season with the No. 1 Bulldogs and served as the primary backup last season while the program captured its second consecutive national title.

The former four-star prospect from the Class of 2020 beat out redshirt sophomore Brock Vandagriff and redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton for the job. Beck will replace Stetson Bennett IV, a legendary former walk-on who held the job the past two seasons as the Dawgs rose to the top of the sport.

Beck has completed 36 of 58 passes for 486 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions in reserve duty over the past two seasons. He first arrived on campus for the 2020 season but redshirted before appearing in four games during the 2021 season. The Jacksonville, Florida, native appeared in seven games last season, completing 26 of 35 passes for 310 yards with four touchdowns.

The Bulldogs open the season against Tennessee-Martin from the FCS ranks on Sept. 2 and host Ball State on Sept. 9 before beginning SEC play against South Carolina on Sept. 16. In addition to a new quarterback, the reigning national champions also have a new offensive coordinator as Mike Bobo returns to the role after Todd Monken left to become the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.

Array of weapons

The pressure of taking over for a program legend like Bennett will be mitigated by the array of weapons Beck will have at his disposal. Among them is tight end Brock Bowers, a unanimous first-team 2023 CBS Sports/247Sports Preseason All-American. Between Bowers and junior receiver Ladd McConkey as the Bulldogs' top two receivers return. 

Among the others catching passes from Beck in 2023 will be former top-50 prospect Arian Smith and talented in-conference transfers Rara Thomas (Mississippi State) and Dominic Lovett (Missouri).

Georgia's offensive line, led by first-team CBS Sports/247Sports Preseason All-America center Sedrick Van Pran, is also regarded as perhaps the best in the country following years of fruitful recruiting at the position group. Last season's leading rusher, Kenny McIntosh, has departed, but a stable of experienced and highly touted backs return led by Kendall Milton, Daijun Edwards and Branson Robinson.

Schematic questions

While there are few questions about the viability of Georgia's offensive personnel, there is some mystique over how Bobo may switch things up following Monken's successful three-year run as the program's offensive coordinator. Bobo spent last season as an offensive analyst for the Bulldogs and previously held the offensive coordinator role for UGA from 2007-14 under Mark Richt.

A former Georgia quarterback, Bobo will be under the microscope as he returns to such a prominent role with his alma mater. With the program coming of consecutive national titles, the pressure is on for UGA to keep humming. But the simultaneous replacement of an offensive coordinator and quarterback could bring early hiccups.

With a defense that is expected to be ruthless and dominating yet again, there should be plenty of leeway for the Bulldogs to find their offensive footing. The only teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 appearing on Georgia's schedule are Ole Miss and Tennessee, and those games don't come until mid-November.

Depth chart implications

Beck was regarded as the favorite for the job, but he's not the most highly touted quarterback on the roster in terms of recruiting pedigree. Vandagriff earned five-star prospect honors in the 247Sports Composite in the Class of 2021 after starring at Prince Avenue Christian School just minutes away from the UGA campus. 

He was considered the No. 5 overall quarterback in his class by 247Sports and appeared in three games over his first two seasons. The Bulldogs also have a commitment from quarterback Dylan Raiola, the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2024, which could further complicate Vandagriff's path to playing time at UGA.

So eyes will be on Vandagriff in the days and months ahead to see if he considers a transfer with Beck claiming the job. However, the first seven seasons of Smart's tenure at Georgia have shown that backups who stay can end up with chances to play. Jake Fromm took over for an injured Jacob Eason early in the 2017 season and never relinquished the job. Then, in 2020, Bennett took over for an injured JT Daniels and became the face of the program.