New Georgia football coach Kirby Smart is putting his own stamp on the Bulldogs, which includes keeping an open mind on the quarterback position.
The Bulldogs ran a pro-style offense in Mark Richt's 15 years, with David Greene, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray combining to start 11 of those seasons before each was drafted into the NFL. Smart has arrived from Alabama, which employs a pro-style attack as well, but past results will not always guarantee future plans.
After all, Smart is fresh off scheming to defend Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, a Heisman Trophy finalist who lives within an hour of Georgia's campus.
"If your best way to run the ball is with your quarterback, then you have to use that," Smart said last week in a news conference. "If your best way to run the ball is to hand it to Derrick Henry or hand it to Nick Chubb, then you do that. You do whatever you have to do to win the game.
"If that becomes a dual-threat quarterback, then we cross that bridge when we come to it. I do think that creates challenges for the defense. If you find the right guy, and there have been a lot of good ones to come out of this state, then you use that."
Watson threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 20 times for 73 yards in Monday's 45-40 title-game thriller won by the Crimson Tide. Smart encountered similar troubles in the 2014 Iron Bowl, when Alabama rallied past Auburn 55-44 and survived Nick Marshall's 456 passing yards and 49 rushing yards.
Georgia is beginning Smart's inaugural year with the quarterback trio of Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and Jacob Eason, a five-star talent from Lake Stevens, Wash., who enrolled this past week. All three are pro-style in nature, and Lambert started 12 of the 13 games this past season.
"We've got to win football games, so ultimately we've got to do what's best for our offensive system and what we have," Smart said. "What we have here right now is a situation with our quarterback environment where we've got to compete to find the best guy for the job."
And should the best guy down the road on the recruiting trail be a dual-threat quarterback, Smart would be more than a little intrigued.
"You recruit to the style of quarterback you have, and that allows you to get certain other positions, whether it be running back or receiver," Smart said, "But you also recruit to an NFL criteria of, 'Can this kid advance and go on to play in the NFL?'
"More and more dual-threat guys are doing that in the NFL. That's opened the door to it. Would we be open to it? Absolutely."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.