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Georgia offense expected to continue to funnel through Stetson Bennett in spring drills

Georgia football-2022 SEC Media Days-questions
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV led the Bulldogs to the national championship on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)

ATHENS — The Georgia offense is expected to look a lot like it did last season when spring practice begins next month with Stetson Bennett returning as the starting quarterback,.

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken recently made it clear to UGA insiders that while the position continues to be evaluated daily, there are no preliminary plans for equal repetitions being split among the returning Bulldogs’ quarterbacks.

Third-year quarterback Carson Beck and redshirt freshman Brock Vandagriff came to Georgia with visions of winning the starting position, but they might have to show the same sort of patience Bennett did the past three offseasons.

RELATED: Kirby Smart trusts flip-phone carrying Stetson Bennett with future of Georgia football

Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs’ seventh-year head coach, has stressed the importance of rhythm and continuity at the position throughout his tenure.

With incoming freshman Gunner Stockton on board, there has been wide speculation Beck or Vandagriff could leave UGA following spring drills, when the next wave of transfers takes place across the college football landscape.

Bennett, who overcame five sacks and a fumble to win CFP Championship Game honors, made it clear he plans to take over leadership duties and help the young players around him as Georgia looks to repeat.

“These boys will learn how to get better at football,” the 24-year-old Bennett said after receiving the key to the city of Blackshear and conducting a press conference last month.

Former quarterback JT Daniels played a role in helping Bennett improve the last offseason and now it’s Bennett’s turn to work with Beck, Vandagriff and Stockton in that capacity.

Bennett might not have been among the 18 different players selected by teammates as a game captain last season, but it would seem a sure thing the Georgia players will vote him into that role in 2022.

RELATED: Stetson Bennett assumes offseason Georgia football leadership role.

Bennett was considering his options after winning the national championship game a month ago. He told a national television audience on Good Morning America the day after the game his decision would come down to his ability to “trust the decisions that are made by the staff.”

RELATED: Stetson Bennett decides to return for another run at the SEC title

Clearly, Bennett heard what he needed to hear from Smart to stay in Athens one more season rather than try his hand somewhere else.

Bennett had made it clear he planned on continuing his playing career, even if that meant transferring out of Georgia for the second time in his unique career.

RELATED: Of course Stetson Bennett is returning to the Bulldogs, no quit in Mailman

Monken might not have complete control over who plays quarterback for the Bulldogs, but the veteran offensive coordinator knows how he prefers to manage the position.

That plays into Bennett’s favor, in terms of him keeping the job, too.

“If you’re constantly changing what you do and your identity, I don’t think you’re going to be very good at anything,” Monken said during Georgia’s CFP Championship run, “So obviously we take from the things that we did well and build on that and the things we didn’t do as well.”

Georgia ranked as one of the most efficient passing teams in the nation with JT Daniels and Bennett under center last season, with Bennett starting 12 of the 15 games last season.

Bennett, himself, is the second-leading pass efficiency leader in the league (176.69) behind Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker (181.41) but ahead of Alabama Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young (167.52).

Still, there were challenges.

Bennett struggled on his third-down passing efficiency, and the Bulldogs ranked fifth in the SEC in third-down conversion percentage at .448.

There’s belief in the Georgia coaches’ offices that Bennett, despite being a sixth-year senior, still has room to improve.

RELATED: Blackshear cements saga of Stetson Bennett’s rise to fame

Indeed, this will be the first spring that Bennett has been in a position to lead the team, as last year he had fallen behind both Daniels and Beck.

Bennett stayed determined, however, and after meeting with Smart over the summer, decided to come back for the 2021 season.

Monken admitted he was wrong in his assessment of Bennett, and the rest is history.

The future, while appearing to be in Bennett’s hands, will play itself out with Smart and his coaching staff making whatever decisions they feel are best for the team from week to week.

“The reality is,” Monken said during the CFP playoffs, “that we don’t know what’s behind the next decision.”

Regardless of who ends up under center for the season-opening game on Sept. 3, there’s a great likelihood the offense will be more productive.

It likely has to be, even with a relatively forgiving schedule.

RELATED: Ranking the opponents on the Georgia football 2022 schedule

Georgia is losing seven of the 11 starters off what was a historically dominant defense last season, including four projected first-round picks in the front seven.

Monken pointed out that Georgia’s offense, which ranked 51st in the nation with 251.9 yards per game passing, was often a byproduct of game circumstances in the second half of contests last season.

“For a number of those games we put ourselves in position to where we didn’t need the quarterback to make plays in the second half of games,” Monken pointed out. “So people could look at that and say, well, why didn’t you take the opportunity to continue to get more reps or get other quarterbacks opportunities.

“Not in my mind. My mind was to win that one game in particular and get off the field without injuries. And so that’s probably the hardest part when you try to look at throwing the ball down the field in terms of the opportunity. Our defense played so well.”

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