National media places fate of Georgia-Florida game on Stetson Bennett
In the last two games, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has thrown five interceptions. The optimism around Bennett from the first three games of the season has turned to outright pessimism following lackluster performances against Alabama and Kentucky.
Entering the Florida game, much of Georgia’s chances are being tied to the performance of Bennett. If he doesn’t turn the ball over and makes explosive plays in the passing game, Georgia’s chances of winning improve.
But if he doesn’t Georgia is going to be in trouble, especially with the injuries the Georgia defense suffered against Kentucky.
“Bennett is going to have to make plays, and he was,” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said.”That dude plays with a chip on his shoulder, and he plays with an attitude. Now, he’s thrown five interceptions in the last couple of games.
“He went from being everybody’s favorite son to this guy is a bum. That affects your mindset. That affects who you are. They’ve got to get his mojo back and get his confidence back.”
Bennett is completing 58 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns to five interceptions. The Georgia quarterback is expected to get some help back this week, as Georgia wide receiver George Pickens is expected to return after missing the Kentucky game with an upper-body injury.
Against Kentucky, Georgia had a season-best 215 rushing yards while also not giving up a sack.
But USA Today’s Paul Myerberg echoes what Herbstreit had to say as far as putting the game on Bennett and his play.
“What is holding back their offense, though, is the inconsistent play of their quarterback,” Myerberg wrote. “He struggled with critical mistakes against Alabama and Kentucky. That can’t happen this week.
“Bennett is going to have to be effective throwing to allow the Bulldogs to keep the ball and put points on the board. If not, it’ll be the end of the College Football Playoff hopes.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart continues to point out that Bennett is the guy for the Bulldogs, as he said he never considered playing either D’Wan Mathis or JT Daniels during the Kentucky game.
Many of the questions around the quarterback position also deal with Daniels. The USC transfer was cleared before the Auburn game but he has yet to take a snap this season. He’s been practicing since the Tennessee game without a knee brace on the surgically repaired knee.
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde made the case that if there were ever a time to see Daniels, it would’ve been against Kentucky
“Watching Georgia flail to a 14–3 win at Kentucky, it seemed like the perfect time to get Daniels some knock-off-the-rust playing time in order to rejuvenate the offense and prepare for Florida—if Smart had any intention of using Daniels against the Gators. That didn’t happen,” Forde wrote.
Smart provided an update on Daniels at the start of this week.
“The only physical limitations [with JT] are still coming off the knee, which he hasn’t shown a lot of ailments coming off the knee,” Smart said. “He’s been out of the brace, been able to throw the ball. He’s done a good job. He actually comes down and throws on the scout team and competes and does a really nice job down there with us.”
The uncertainty around Georgia has never been higher this season, and a number of media types such as CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee, Forde and The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel all picked the Gators.
But Bruce Feldman of The Atheltic is sticking with the Bulldogs, in part because Smart is 3-0 in his career against Florida head coach Dan Mullen.
The Dawgs have a couple of key losses on defense to injury this week, but I’m going with Georgia,” Feldman said. “Kirby Smart has done very well against Dan Mullen’s teams over the years, and I think that will continue.”
It will all be settled on Saturday as the Bulldogs and Gators meet in Jacksonville, Fla., at 3:30 p.m. ET. CBS will broadcast the game.
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