Georgia – Offensive transitioning
Georgia is set to replace former offensive coordinator Todd Monken (who returned to the NFL as an OC) and two-time national championship winning quarterback Stetson Bennett on offense. The transition period from that duo to the next OC-QB duo will be a crucial one in Georgia’s quest for a three-peat.
Georgia has three players battling it out to see who the Dawgs new starting QB will be; Carson Beck, Brock Vandagriff, and Gunner Stockton. Beck seems to be the front-runner after being the 2nd stringer last year, but Vandagriff is very talented and is not very far behind. Stockton seems to be third in the race right now, but is a former highly rated recruit himself who could push the two ahead of him. Smart has yet to name a starter, or really give any indication as to who the leader of the pack so far is.
It also could be telling that none of the three have entered the transfer portal yet, making it seem as if the competition really is still ongoing. Georgia corner Kamari Lassiter was asked about facing the three QB’s in the spring, and he said “I expect us to still be explosive. The offense is looking great. The quarterbacks, all three of those guys, they are three guys who are very composed and very good at manning the offense and keeping up with the standard.”
Todd Monken did wonders for the Georgia offense in his three years in Athens. The Dawgs averaged 38.6 points per game in 2021 and then 41.1 in 2022 en route to winning both national titles. Monken used that success to earn himself a return to the NFL with the Ravens as their Offensive Coordinator. Replacing Monken is a familiar name in former Georgia OC (and QB) Mike Bobo. Bobo was Georgia’s OC from 2007-2014 (and was on staff before that). Bobo was an analyst for Georgia this past season.
Georgia star tight end Brock Bowers was asked about the transition from Monken to Bobo, he stated “it was pretty seamless because Bobo was there last year and then the tight end room actually helping out and just being the offense, quality control, assistant kind of role.” He went on to say in response to a different question about Bobo, “He (Bobo) brings a lot of the same offensive stuff to the table as Coach Monken did, and so hell be throwing a few wrinkles here and there, but it will all be the same players and just got to do the same thing.”
Bobo, a former Georgia QB himself (1993-1997) is known for his abilities to coach and develop QB’s. Bobo was the QB coach for David Greene at Georgia, plus was the OC for Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray (three of the best QB’s to ever play at Georgia).
Kentucky – Transfer Portal success
Kentucky arguably had one of the best transfer portal hauls of any SEC school this offseason. Two of the top transfers are Quarterback Devin Leary (from NC State) and Running back Ray Davis (Vanderbilt).
Leary was one of the best QB’s in the nation in 2021 as he completed 65.7% of his passes, threw for 3,433 yards, and had a strong 35:5 Touchdown to INT ratio. An injury then caused Leary to miss most of 2022 before he decided to transfer to Lexington. Overall for his career, Leary has a 60.2% passing percentage, 6,807 passing yards, and a 62:16 TD/INT ratio.
Davis was one of the SEC’s more underrated RB’s in 2022. Davis rushed for 1,042 yards last season while scoring eight touchdowns. Davis had also previously played for Temple before transferring to Vandy. Across his career, Davis has 2,512 rushing yards, 61 receptions, 439 receiving yards, and 20 total TD’s.
In his opening monologue, Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops stated “Went out and hit the transfer portal with some players that will help us on the offensive side of the ball and protect the quarterback. Another obvious one is the quarterback, Devin Leary. Getting him out of the transfer portal from NC State, a proven player, a guy when healthy played and participated at the highest level and had great consistency. And so very excited about Devin.”
Stoops also answered a question about Leary in which he described his new QB’s mental makeup and how he feels Leary fits in perfectly with Kentucky’s culture. Stoops also mentioned “Devin is the type of guy that can make all the throws, but he’ll also put it in some spots or throw it and layer it in some spots that will wow you.” Both Stoops and Kentucky offensive lineman Eli Cox talked about how confident Leary is.
When asked about the portal recruitment of Davis (who ran for 129 yards and a TD against Kentucky in a Vanderbilt upset win last season), Stoops stated “That is exactly why we recruited him because he did run — Ray Davis ran for 130 against us. I thought it was just over a hundred but thanks a lot. 129, okay. No, very, very good player. Great respect for Ray. When he got in the portal and we had an opportunity to visit with him, it didn’t take you five, ten minutes to spend with a young man like that that you knew he was the type of player you wanted on your team, both as a football player and with the character and being a graduate of Vanderbilt and just a great young man and very talented player. And very tough. I felt like he fit our mold.”
While Leary and Davis are not the only transfers brought in by Kentucky this offseason, they will both play a key role in whether or not Kentucky can improve from their 7-6 2022 season.