ATHENS – It didn’t take long for the clock to hit midnight on the ground in the wake of Georgia’s 33-18 CFP Championship win over Alabama.
The majority of the Bulldogs’ elite defense, which carried the team through most of the season and again in the title game, is moving forward.
First-round picks and line-ups Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Nacoby Dean advance, along with Orange Bowl defensive players and CFP Derion Kendrick and Louis Ceni.
Coach Kirby Smart knows better than anyone that Georgia’s offense will need to take on a much greater burden than it has this season, which is why the UGA is actively working to get the quarterback out of the NCAA transfer gate.
Free Agent Sweepstakes
The current price tag for an outstanding quarterback in the college football sky is in the millions, according to those familiar with Caleb Williams’ high-profile transfer from Oklahoma.
USC is in first place, and by all indications, it will match all offers to secure Williams, who some say already has bags that made it to campus in Los Angeles.
Everything is moving too fast for some Georgia fans (like the UGA players), who are still celebrating Stetson Bennett’s incredible journey from walking to offensive MVP to victory over Alabama.
RELATED: Stetson Bennett had one thought springing to mind in the fourth quarter
To be clear, Bennett appears as uninterested in the lovable little bios story angle, any more than he wants to become known as the SEC version of Rudy.
Bennett said he wants to play another year of football, and he wants to compete.
There may not be enough potential dealers, all eager to cash in on Bennett’s story, to talk to him about pursuing another season even if he’s not in Georgia.
RELATED: A closer look at Stetson Bennett’s interview with Good Morning America
Bennett said on the morning of Good Morning America following the CFP game that he wanted to “see if he can trust the decisions the staff make” to the Georgia coaches before he decides anything.
Bennett must now know what he can trust: Smart will make the decisions he believes will lead to another championship.
If Bennett fits Smart’s vision, he would start.
But if Smart decides that more or more is needed in the position, Bennett will return to the bench as he spent the majority of his career in Georgia.
Georgia’s only promise, from everything Smart has said in the past, is the chance of competition.
SEC . Shark Tank
Ruthless, yes, but the SEC is a shark tank, and strong roster management and recruiting are needed to stay on top.
There is no fairness in football, and while Smart was willing to forgive Bennett’s less-than-stellar performance against Florida and in the SEC title match, 2022 is a new story.
The Georgia quarterback who starts against Oregon on September 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium may not be on the current roster.
GT Daniels met with Smart on Sunday to tell the manager of his intentions to move, and it is likely that he has come to the conclusion that Smart wants a moving midfielder at any cost.
RELATED: A Look at JT Daniels Planning to Enter the NCAA Transfer Portal
At least for now.
Bennett, Vandagrave, Beck and upcoming freshman Gunner Stockton have running and dashing abilities that drive defensive coordinators crazy.
Vandagriff, a passing version of bigger, stronger, faster and more accurate passes than Bennett, appears to be the internally favourite.
However, Beck’s sporting spirit and knowledge of the game writers make for an interesting QB duel with Vandagriff in spring rehearsals, whose loser may leave town in April.
Bennett may be gone at that time as well, or he can hold on to it again, as he did last spring when he threw only four passes in the spring game.
turn the page
Smart knows what Bennett can do, so it’s time for the younger quarterbacks to get reps.
Or, a new quarterback, assuming Georgia gets the kind of free proxy you’re looking for out of the gate, might be shown.
It’s also possible that the Bulldogs are unable to land the quarterback out of the gate.
RELATED: Georgia QB Room Blurry, A Look To The Future
That was when Smart, or another coach in his place, turned the narrative around knowing there were good enough players on the roster to win a championship all the time.
And it will be true, it’s just that elite coaches like Smart and Nick Saban always want more talent, realizing that a team can never be deep enough in quality.
If the past five years have taught Georgia football fans anything, it’s that change that is constant, even in the midfield.
The same Switcheroo quarterback that happened to UGA, and seems about to happen again, is happening everywhere, most notably in Clemson (Kelly Bryant/Trevor Lawrence) and Alabama (Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa).
Business is business, and, as Smart famously said, “Georgia does not practice beating someone,” but rather, “practice to beat everyone.”
the top of the mountain
It’s up to your intelligence to stay ahead of the game off the field as well, and take advantage of the new NIL rules and transfer rules.
Smart has done so well in this capacity that he is in the midst of negotiations for what is believed to be a guaranteed 10-year contract worth an estimated $100 million.
There are a lot of Georgian players negotiating deals as well in this new era of zero contracts and one-time transfers. There’s money to be made, and even former UGA players are flocking to the scene trying to get a piece of it through exclusive and marketing alliances.
However, Smart’s focus is on bolstering a team that will see at least 10 players in the school selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, and possibly as many as 13.
Granted, there will be free agent add-ons through the gate at multiple locations this year for Georgia, and each upcoming season, with Smart churning of NFL players as UGA backups enter the gate to greener pastures.
This puts pressure on second-year AD Josh Brooks and UGA decision makers to see how they can find and attach more corporate sponsors, and dollars, to help Georgia remain competitive in this aspect of the game.
Recruiting never stops, the quarterback’s room is fluid.
In a perfect world, Smart would like to have four scholarship players on his roster early next season and Todd Monken on headphones calls for plays for what will be season three.
If Monken leaves, spin the dial in the quarterback’s room and another player can come out a winner in what becomes a game of changes.