Stetson Bennett went from being the only Georgia quarterback nobody was talking about to the only one everyone was talking about at Arkansas.
Bennett was 20-of-29 passing for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, rallying the Bulldogs for a 37-10 victory in Fayetteville.
“He gave us the juice we needed,” Smart said. “He’s a great competitor.”
Bennett came on in relief of redshirt freshman starter D’Wan Mathis in the second quarter with the Bulldogs down 7-2.
Bennett, listed at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds and nicknamed ‘The Mailman,’ played big in pulling a sputtering offense out of a deep funk.
Georgia, unable to muster a score on its first six offensive series, drove from its own 39 to the Arkansas 24 on Bennett’s first drive.
The Bulldogs were so out of sorts at that point that Zamir White was unable to convert on third-and-2 or fourth-and-1 runs, turning the ball over on downs.
Bennett, unfazed, executed a two-minute drill two series later, engineering an 8-play, 59-yard drive in just one minute.
It might not have seemed like much at the time, but Jack Podlesny’s 38-yard field goal gave Georgia just the momentum it needed heading into the half down 7-5.
“(Stetson) brings a lot of reps,” Smart said. “Here’s a kid who took every single rep as a No. 2 last year. He understands what defenses are trying to do to him. He knows where to hurt them. He used a lot of the tools around him, made good decisions.”
Bennett had Georgia marching on the opening series of the third quarter until James Cook fumbled the ball away.
Arkansas cashed in for a field goal to extend its lead to 10-5, but it was academic.
With Bennett under center operating the Air Raid principles Todd Monken was hired to coach, the Georgia offense had found rhythm and would outscore Arkansas 32-3 in the second half.
Bennett needed only five plays to lead the Bulldogs next scoring drive, capping it with a 19-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens. Bennett scrambled and lunged for the pylon, making good on the 2-point conversion for a 13-10 lead.
A blocked punt gave Bennett a short field on his next possession, and Georgia’s Mailman delivered again, finding tight end John FitzPatrick for a 7-yard TD to make it 20-10.
The Bulldogs’ defense added to the lead on Eric Stokes’ Pick 6, and then it was Bennett, once more, directing his final TD drive on the night.
Bennett and Georgia worked the ball downfield patiently, 13 plays, 81 yards, with White bursting into the end zone from 6 yards out for a 34-10 lead.
Kirby Smart had seen enough, pulling Bennett and re-inserting Mathis for the remainder of the game.
Georgia returns to action at home next Saturday against Auburn.