Kirby Smart not fretting over Oregon Ducks unnamed starting QB: ‘I know who the quarterback is going to be’

Kirby Smart isn’t fretting over Dan Lanning refusing to name Oregon’s starting quarterback.

Georgia is preparing for the Ducks to start Bo Nix, a three-year starter at Auburn, when the teams kick off the season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday (12:30 pm, ABC).

“That really doesn’t impact anything for us,” Smart said. “I know who the quarterback is going to be. I’m not worried about that. I’m worried a lot more about how our guys play and what our guys do and how our guys execute.

“You guys use that to write about and talk about, but let’s be honest, regardless of which quarterback’s in there they’re going to do what they do. Maybe he does one thing better than the other guy does, and at the end of the day they may play both of them, but it’s never about the preparation for one specific quarterback as much as it is the preparation of your team to go play well .”

Oregon still hasn’t officially named its starter and might not until kickoff, though Nix is ​​the overwhelming favorite over redshirt-freshman Ty Thompson.

In May, Smart called Nix “probably one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen at quarterback” in terms of speed and athleticism.

Nix went 21 of 38 for 217 yards with an interception and was sacked four times during Auburn’s 34-10 loss to Georgia last season. He also had six other runs that gained 30 yards.

In three career games against Georgia, all losses, Nix is ​​72 of 128 for 639 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions and has 34 carries for 34 yards. Nix’s 56.3% career completion percentage against Georgia is fifth among the 11 SEC teams he faced during his Auburn career.

Regardless of who starts or plays at quarterback for the Ducks on Saturday, they’ll be doing so behind a veteran offensive line that returns eight of its top nine players from last season.

“I think they’ve got more returning starters, returning snaps, than almost anybody in the country on their offensive line,” Smart said. “So it certainly is a strength in terms of, even with Mario (Cristobal)’s history of recruiting offensive linemen, he did a tremendous job putting together depth at that position. It’ll be key that we play well, we play physical. … Our defensive line has got to be able to stop the run and be able to control the quarterback, which depending on which quarterback it is, you got some really good athletes back there.”

It remains to be seen if Lanning will release a depth chart at all for the season opener or elect to keep Smart and his former colleagues in the dark on any personnel information.

Smart said coaches prepare for the unknown, but players don’t need to concern themselves with the game-within-the game aspect of things.

“Matchups are easier to find when you know the team inside and out, like an SEC team we play every year, it’s pretty easy to try to figure out where your matchups are,” Smart said. “It’s probably a little tougher in this situation of not knowing your opponent and even the tape you have of the opponent may not be exactly what they’re doing. So that creates an interesting dynamic, but it’s not for our players to concern themselves with. …

“We know we’ve got a really good program. Mario Cristobal is a good friend of mine and he’s done a great job recruiting players to Oregon and Dan has taken those guys and watched what they did in the spring game and know the intensity and the organization that Dan has and the leadership. They’re going to be a hell of a team and they have a lot of good football players on their team.”

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