Stetson Bennett shakes off turnovers vs. Florida, confidence intact entering Tennessee week

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) gets a pass by Florida Gators defensive lineman Gervon Dexter Sr. (9) during the third quarter in a NCAA football game at TIAA Bank Field, Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Jacksonville, Florida. Georgia won 42-20. (Jason Getz /

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Stetson Bennett has played football long enough to know how to take the good with the bad.

“Things happen,” Bennett said, shaking off a question about his performance in Georgia’s 42-20 win over Florida on Saturday.

“Bad things happen, good things happen, we’ve got mature guys.”

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The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs showed their composure and resiliency in beating the Gators, but it’s not a stretch to suggest Bennett will need to play better for Georgia to beat No. 2 Tennessee.

Bennett was 19-of-38 passing for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns against a Florida team that ranks 117th in the nation in total defense and 87th in pass efficiency defense.

The Vols, by comparison, are 40th in pass efficiency defense and 82nd in total defense.

Much of the attention this week will be on Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, who ranks among the Heisman Trophy frontrunners.

But Bennett’s numbers continue to rank among the better players in the nation, as he’s Bennett i14th with 293.62 yards per game passing while Hooker averages 292.25.

The Vols’ quarterback is second in the nation with a 191.64 efficiency rating (21 TDs, 1 interception), but Bennett is a respectable 38th, at 150.57 (9 TD passes, 3 interceptions).

Coach Kirby Smart explained that besides a few miscues, Bennett played well against Florida.

“Stetson’s playing good, he had some moments tonight, but he also did some really, really good things in that game that maybe the normal eye doesn’t see,” Smart said.

“And if we could take away the couple of decisions, he played really well, and it allows us to score because we’re probably not what we were defensively last year.”

Bennett had another ball dropped by a Florida defender in the first quarter, and then he forced a pass downfield that was intercepted in the third quarter.

Bennett looked back at his second interception -- an underthrown pass intended for Daijun Edwards -- and said, “I should have checked the ball down to Darnell (Washington).”

Washington, however, dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Bennett earlier in the game, and there were other balls that Georgia receivers could have caught.

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“I tell them I make plays you make plays, I make mistakes, you make mistakes,” Bennett said. “That’s football.

“The team isn’t judged by shoulda, coulda, woulda, we’re judged by what we do, so let’s go do something.”

It’s a safe bet Georgia will be judged by what it does against Tennessee on Saturday, and it will be up to Bennett to make sure the offense scores enough points in what could be a higher-scoring affair.

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