Stetson Bennett had done enough to earn and hold down Georgia’s starting quarterback job in wins over Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee. But after a loss and three-interception performance against Alabama, questions are being asked of Bennett.
On the day, Bennett completed 18 of his 40 pass attempts for 269 yards. In the first half, he threw for two touchdowns, including an 82-yarder to Georgia running back James Cook.
But in the second half, Bennett was picked twice, and the Georgia offense failed to keep pace with the Alabama unit. The Crimson Tide had 21 points in the second half, while Georgia had none.
“He’s not perfect, he’s learning, he’s growing up,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He also made some good throws and made some plays, and he even made some checks to put us in really good situations.
“But Stetson’s just got to play within himself and allow the people around him to help him, and we’ve got to help him with the run game around him,” Smart said. “We can’t throw the ball that many times and hope to be effective.”
A number of national media types weighed in on the game. And while they lauded the performance of the Alabama offense for shredding the Georgia defense, they also had a critical eye for the play of Bennett.
“The other glaring issue for Georgia: Stetson Bennett IV isn’t good enough to win a shootout,” Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde wrote. The former walk-on has been a success story thus far, but he was exposed by Alabama—completing just 18 of 40 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.”
Georgia does have options at the quarterback position in D’Wan Mathis and JT Daniels. Mathis started the Arkansas game and struggled in his first carry start.
Daniels on the other hand is still making his way back from an ACL injury he suffered to open the 2019 season. He was cleared before the Auburn game for Georgia and has spent the past three weeks working as a back-up quarterback. Recent photos from practice have shown Daniels practicing without a knee brace.
USA Today’s Dan Wolken wondered if the Bennett performance creates an opportunity for Daniels to enter the lineup.
“Bennett’s final line — 18-for-40 for 269 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions — should give Kirby Smart enough of an opening to see if Southern California transfer JT Daniels offers more upside,” Wolken wrote.
Daniels was a 5-star quarterback in the 2018 class and has 12 career starts in his time at USC. He arrived at Georgia in May after transferring in.
The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel didn’t call for a change at the quarterback position following the loss. But he did reiterate the need for the Bulldogs to be more potent on the offensive side of the ball.
In three matchups against Alabama and Nick Saban since Kirby Smart has taken over as the head coach, the Bulldogs have just two touchdowns in the second half.
“I don’t have a great answer for Smart’s team,” Mandel wrote. “As much as the defensive guru wants to just go out and force punts, you’ve got to outscore an offense like that.”
But for all the concern around the Georgia offense and what more they can do, Georgia’s overall prospects for the 2020 season haven’t been too negatively impacted. Georgia only fell to No. 4 in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll.
ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit moved Georgia to No. 3 in his rankings. The Bulldogs still control their own fate when it comes to reaching the SEC championship game.
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) October 18, 2020
Georgia does get a week to sort things, as the Bulldogs are off this week. The Bulldogs return to the field on Oct. 31 against the Kentucky Wildcats.
So More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Georgia football drops in both AP and Coaches Poll after loss to Alabama
- Georgia realizes ‘it takes more’ from Alabama loss, where Bulldogs must get better
- Kirby Smart on Alabama offense: ‘We couldn’t’ do it. We couldn’t stop them’
- Georgia football report card: Bulldogs schooled by Alabama, 41-24
- WATCH: Georgia QB Stetson Bennett can’t keep up with Alabama, stumbles on road
- Georgia’s latest loss to Alabama isn’t ‘a demoralizing thing’ even if it feels that way
- Georgia football instant observations after deflating loss to Alabama
- RECAP: Alabama capitalizes on Georgia turnovers, rolls to 41-24 victory