Kirby Smart doesn’t need to name Stetson Bennett as Georgia football starting quarterback

041622 Athens: Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) attempts a pass during the G - Day game at Sanford Stadium Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Athens, Ga. (Jason Getz /

ATHENS — Kirby Smart didn’t have to name a starting quarterback following the Bulldogs’ annual G-Day Game.

“I don’t have to say that, our team knows that Stetson is our quarterback,” Smart said when asked by DawgNation if Bennett’s MVP performances and experiences locked him in as No. 1.

“Stetson has done a tremendous job, (and) Stetson has been an incredible leader, he’s done what we have asked, and the other two guys have gotten a whole lot better,” Smart said.

“I think if you ask them they are really comfortable back there in the bull pit throwing the ball, and I saw it today with both of them.”

GRIFFITH: Honest G-Day takes, Carson Beck looked better than Stetson Bennett in this scrimmage

Bennett led the Black Team (first-team offense) to a game-winning field goal drive in the final moments over the Red Team (first-team defense) in the 26-23 win, but he also struggled at times.

Bennett was 15-of-35 passing for 273 yards with 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and was sacked 3 times with 4 passes batted down at the line.

The 24-year-old Bennett shrugged it off, aware he’s got to play better next season, but also comfortable with his supporting cast.

“I’m going to be better than last year, but it this isn’t going to be the Stetson Bennett show,” he said, “It’s going to be the University of Georgia football team.”

Smart explained that because the Bulldogs didn’t run the football to set up the play-action game, the offense wasn’t going to be as effective in a “pass-happy” sort of game.

“When you put them in a situation where it’s pass-happy type environment, it changes the D-line’s demeanor, so there’s no real run game to slow guys down and everybody is pinning their ears back,” Smart said, describing a scenario similar to what Bennett and UGA faced in the second half of the SEC Championship Game.

“It really wasn’t a shot-type day because it wasn’t a play action type day, it was a drop-back pass-type day.”

To Smart’s point, Carson Beck (14-26, 274) and Brock Vandagriff (12-26, 115 passing, 3 rushes, 45 yards) looked good in the scrimmage.

Beck, in particular, looked fluid on his play-action and rollouts and was accurate on his throws. Beck only attempted one pass in the second half.

Smart said there’s much more to his analysis of the quarterbacks than what the statistics might suggest.

“I don’t read into the statistics and say, okay, what was the completion percentage,” Smart said. " It’s a decision-making process. Did his eyes go to the right place, did he do right thing?

“There’s so much more so being the quarterback at Georgia than just numbers.”

Indeed, Smart pointed out Friday the experience Bennett and other returning players have from the CFP Semifinal Orange Bowl and CFP Championship Game is invaluable.

“I think when you play in a semifinal game and then a championship game, those players that got to play in those moments, there’s not a price tag or value you can put on that kind of experience,” Smart said.

“So they’ve worked really hard and we have a long way to go, but we’ve had a really good spring.”

The G-Day Game was just one of the 15 spring practices, but Smart left feeling good about his quarterbacks.

“I really thought those guys made some plays,” Smart said. “Standing back there with them, they stood in the pocket, made good decisions with the ball, made some vertical plays down the field.”

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart post G-Day press conference

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