Stetson Bennett IV has undeniably been a good story to this point. The former Georgia walk-on, who wore a mail carrier hat just to try and get noticed on the recruiting circuit, was put into the leading role against Arkansas.
He helped turn around the Georgia offense en route to a 37-10 win. Then against Auburn, he played much like he did against Arkansas. He didn’t turn the ball over and made key plays on third-down to guide the Bulldogs to a 27-6 win.
Against Tennessee, Bennett followed the same recipe. He didn’t turn the ball over, helped move the chains on third down and made some key plays with his feet when called upon.
“It’s a pride thing,” Bennett said on not turning the ball over. “Don’t throw any picks, don’t fumble the ball and we’ve got a good chance to win the ball game.”
To this point, Bennett has done everything that’s been asked of him and he’s excelled at it. He’s thrown for 689 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also added a score with his feet in the Tennessee win.
In the span of a few weeks, Bennett no longer has any trouble drawing attention from opposing coaches.
“He’s done an outstanding job. He’s played within himself. Made good choices and decisions,” Nick Saban said. “He’s really just facilitated everything that he has needed to do from his position to help all the other good players that they have make a lot of plays.”
Then it was D’Wan Mathis’ turn to be the guy for Georgia. At no point prior to Bennett stepping onto the field against Arkansas was he supposed to be Georgia’s leader, its starting quarterback.
Through all the twists and turns of the Georgia quarterback competition, Bennett never deviated from who he was.
“I honestly think he’s just himself,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “He doesn’t try to be someone else. He doesn’t try to artificially lead or fake it. He never did that while he was trying to compete for the job and he hasn’t done it since he got the job.
“Stetson is who he is, and I think the skill players on offense, the offensive line, they all trust him and rally around him because they know he understands what we’re trying to do offensively and he can put them in good situations.”
Georgia tight end Tre’ McKitty echoed what Smart had to say.
“I think Stetson is a great quarterback. He puts it right on the money,” McKitty said. “Everything he throws is a catchable ball. He puts it in the right spot. He makes it easy for us on the receiving end.”
Related: Stetson Bennett perfectly sums up Georgia positives and frustrations following Tennessee win
Bennett on Saturday will try to be the first Georgia quarterback to beat Alabama since Matthew Stafford did it in 2007. Neither Aaron Murray or Jake Fromm were able to successfully take down Saban’s Crimson Tide, even with both coming up painfully close.
Bennett does offer more athleticism than Fromm, as many remarked that he would not have scored like Bennett did against the Volunteers. And Bennett seems to also possess many of the strong intangible aspects that many often praised Fromm for.
“He’s a guy who doesn’t like to lose. Jake [Fromm] was very similar in that way. They’re both just guys who don’t like to lose,” Salyer said. Stets is going to go out there and compete, and he’s going to give you everything he’s got on every play, and he’s not going to fold on you when things get tough.”
After the win over Tennessee, Bennett remarked that he’s grown more comfortable with each game. After hardly taking any snaps with the first-team offense during the preseason, he’s thrown every meaningful pass for the Bulldogs in their last two wins over top-15 teams in Auburn and Tennessee.
Doing that against Alabama will be a much more difficult task. The Crimson Tide have become the team that has defined the past decade of Georgia football. Good, but not good enough has so often been the case for the Bulldogs.