Nashville, Tenn. — Vanderbilt coach James Franklin lists Austyn Carta-Samuels as his quarterback on the new depth chart while keeping the freedom to change his mind before Saturday night's game at No. 5 Georgia.
Franklin said Monday he will decide by Thursday based on practice who starts against the Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) in what he pointed out is a game-by-game situation.
"I'm going to play the guys that I think give us the best chance to win that game or that drive or that series," Franklin said. "Whatever we have to do. That's always going to be our focus."
Franklin did this last year in his first season at Vanderbilt starting senior Larry Smith early in the season with Jordan Rodgers coming off the bench before taking over the starting quarterback job for the final seven games. Vanderbilt went 6-7, and Franklin pulled Rodgers during a loss in the Liberty Bowl.
Rodgers started the first two games of this season, both losses to then-No. 9 South Carolina and on the road at Northwestern.
Carta-Samuels, a transfer who played two seasons at Wyoming, was announced with the starters before last weekend in the Commodores' 58-0 rout of Presbyterian. Carta-Samuels got the benefit of Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1) running for 410 yards as he was 13 of 20 for 195 yards passing.
Franklin said being able to run definitely helped take pressure off the offense. Vanderbilt had averaged 81 yards rushing in each of the first two losses, and Zac Stacy ran for 174 yards on eight carries against Presbyterian. Franklin said they think Carta-Samuels ran the game fairly well, though he knows Georgia is a far different test.
"The biggest thing is if we didn't feel like he could handle the things for Georgia, we probably wouldn't have made the changes against Presbyterian," Franklin said.