Georgia’s QB situation has easily been the most hotly debated topic of the season, as former walk-on Stetson Bennett wrestled away the starting job when one-time Heisman candidate JT Daniels was injured.
However, many fans now seem to support coach Kirby Smart with whatever QB decision he wants to make, since the Bulldogs are 12-0 and ranked No. 1 heading into the SEC Championship. The historically good defense has carried the team this far.
Brad Nessler, who will call Saturday’s game for CBS Sports, offered his insight on the QB situation on Thursday’s DawgNation Daily: Why is Stetson Bennett playing now? Why not JT Daniels?
“That’s a loaded question,” Nessler said. “I think if Stetson had struggled at any point, and JT was healthy at the right point, they probably would’ve switched. “I think it got to the point where you are like ‘Man, this is not broken.’ I’ve always been in Stetson Bennett’s corner – not against JT Daniels at all. I think he’s a good kid and great quarterback. But how do you pull that guy (Bennett)?
“Your young listeners won’t get this, but the year that the Miami Dolphins went undefeated and won the Super Bowl (in 1972), Bob Griese got credit for that … and that probably helped him get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“But Earl Morrall played most of that season at quarterback. That’s how they won about 14 of those 17 games, you know what I mean? So you’re maybe not always the 5-star guy, but as far as I’m concerned, Stetson Bennett has been a 5-star performer. Just let him keep playing.”
Ironically, Nessler was calling another Georgia game (vs. Tennessee) when everyone found out once and for all that Bennett was Smart’s guy. In that game, despite a comfortable lead, the Bulldogs decided against continuing their QB rotation. Daniels didn’t play a snap, despite reports that he would get increased playing time against the Volunteers.
Nessler mentioned during the Georgia-Tennessee telecast that he had bumped into Daniels’ parents before the game. He elaborated on the story during Thursday’s DawgNation Daily:
“It was just outside our hotel, and we were talking,” Nessler said. “At that time, they were really excited. His dad said they thought they were going to see ‘significant more reps’ (against Tennessee). They thought he was going to play a lot that day, and he didn’t play at all. So I’m sure they were disappointed.
“They said that week that Jordan Palmer had been in Athens, and he’s kind of JT’s quarterback guru. (Palmer) does that with a lot of players in college and pro football. He had been in town, and they had gone through all of JT’s mechanics. JT was fired up to play that day, and (his parents) expected him to play a lot. But that’s where that story came from. It was a chance meeting outside the hotel.
“But you know Stetson is playing great. Obviously, the fact that he can move and run around has helped his cause …”
Despite his success, the 5-foot-11 Bennett still has his detractors – those who feel Daniels has a much higher ceiling of talent. On Saturday, the much-improved Bennett has an opportunity against Alabama, a team that he played poorly against last season. There’s little doubt that Alabama’s defensive game plan will focus on seeing if Bennett can be a difference maker in a high-stakes game.
If Bennett can make some game-changing plays to help the Bulldogs beat Alabama, then there might not be much more to debate.