Georgia football Great Eric Zeier elaborates on Stetson Bennett’s growth, JT Daniels’ recovery

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett got the start in place of injured JT Daniels last Saturday and played the entirety of a 37-0 victory over Arkansas.
Jeff Sentell / Dawg

ATHENS — Georgia football legend Eric Zeier ranks among the greatest quarterbacks in SEC history, once holding the title of “All-Time Leading Passer” in the league.

Zeier has also seen his share of other Bulldogs come through Athens in his role as color man for the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network, and he likes the improvement he is seeing from Stetson Bennett.

RELATED: Why Georgia’s Stetson Bennett ‘a hard guy not to like’

“I think he is starting to take care of the football better,” Zeier said during an interview on 680 The Fan this week. We’ve seen a handful of throws that, as soon as it comes out of his hand, it’s ‘ugh, don’t throw that one.’ "

The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs take on No. 18 Auburn at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and Bennett will be the quarterback under center if JT Daniels is sidelined another week by the strained lat muscle that led him to miss last Saturday’s 37-0 win over Arkansas.

RELATED: Kirby Smart’s plan for injured JT Daniels this week

Bennett is 2-0 as Georgia’s starting quarterback this season, having also knocked off UAB in Week Two.

But in games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt this season, Bennett threw interceptions. The Razorbacks dropped what would have been another interception last Saturday.

Zeier indicated Bennett might be too much of a gunslinger for his own good, sometimes.

“If there’s one thing that can get Stetson, he’s got such a gunslinger mentality, and he can throw it exceptionally well, if not the best passer on that team, the second-best passer,” Zeier said. “He’s starting to trust in all the guys around him understanding that ‘if I don’t lose this football game, we win, and we probably win big.’

“If he could eliminate that part of his game, he could be a quarterback that maybe with this team can that talent around him, take us where we want to go — if he’s the one that has to.”

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit agreed with Zeier.

“He’s so competitive, he’s got to be careful trying to take chances and put the ball in traffic,” Herbstreit said. “That’s the one downside with him.”

Team captain Jamaree Salyer put the magic of Bennett’s leadership into perspective earlier this season.

Daniels is expected to be back from the strained lat soon. The current injury is believed to be related to the strained oblique muscle that sidelined him for the UAB game.

Zeier, who sees a lot of himself in Daniels, said it’s important the transfer from USC continues to stay dialed in if he doesn’t play on Saturday.

“When you look at JT, while he’s not the guy in there right now, mentally he is in the game, and he is doing all that he can,” Zeier said. “He’s getting mental reps when Stetson is out there, and in practice, he’s staying in as good as shape as he can.

RELATED: Eric Zeier shares what he sees in Georgia quarterback JT Daniels

“Obviously he has to rest and get himself healed up,” Zeier said. “But you can take multiple steps backward when you’re not physically in the game, meaning in practice every single day as well.

“It’s going to be quite the challenge for him physically and mentally for him to stay sharp.”

Zeier indicated that unless Bennett improves, Georgia will need Daniels back under center to win a championship.

“I think so, I think JT has got to get healthy,” Zeier said. “Stetson is a great quarterback, that is no slight on Stetson.

“But if you project forward and you get into a national semifinal game or a national championship game, or even an SEC Championship game against Alabama — that is still the king on the throne right now — I think JT gives us the best chance to go out and win that football game.

“If Stetson comities to improve, and this defense continues to play at this level, we can win those football games, I think, with Stetson in there. But I do think JT is our best chance to win if he’s healthy.”

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