COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Stetson Bennett bandwagon — and bank account — is filling up with every highlight Georgia’s “Mailman” delivers.
“He wasn’t in my top five,” College football legend Tim Tebow said. “He is now.”
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No doubt, Bennett has gone mainstream in leading the Bulldogs to the No. 1-ranking with one of the most dominant starts to a season in recent memory.
Bennett ranks second in the SEC and 11th in the nation in pass efficiency and 11th in passing yards for a UGA offense that ranks second in the SEC and sixth in the nation in total offense.
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“I’m all on board, he’s easily the Heisman favorite in the SEC and it’s not even close,” SEC Network analyst and former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers said.
“I left him out of my initial top five (SEC quarterbacks) rankings not because of what he had done, but because I didn’t think he was going to have to be what he is right now.”
Indeed, Bennett was more of a caretaker last season and struggled at times when pressed in close games.
“Last year it was always, can they win despite Stetson Bennett?” Former Florida coach Dan Mullen said.
“(It was) let’s put everything on everybody else and not let him make mistakes.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken has effectively re-wired the base scheme from inside runs with Zamir White leading to heavy play-action with RPO and shot plays, to more of a perimeter attack.
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Georgia’s offense involves more high-percentage quick passes outside — “Long handoffs,” as Monken calls them — which Kirby Smart says serve the same purpose as a run game.
But now it’s Bennett getting credit for those passing yards, and it enhances his statistics and profile.
“I thought he would be more balanced,” Rodgers said, referring to UGA’s drop-off in the traditional run game.
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“But this is a team that is as dangerous of not more dangerous through the air because I think they have one of the most underrated receiver groups in the country, and everyone knows the tight ends are amazing.”
Bennett didn’t have the typical offseason competition at the position, having gained the necessary assurances from Smart in “closed door meetings” that he would be QB1.
Rodgers believes that is another key to Bennett’s success, in that he doesn’t need to worry about losing his job.
“I was in competitions my whole life – when you’re not looking over your shoulder, you play better,” Rodgers said. “You don’t force throws. You don’t play tight.
“You don’t check the ball down when you should’ve hit that dig route that was wide open, and so him not looking over his shoulder and having nothing to prove, you’re seeing a dude that the sky is the limit right now.”
The advertisers have taken notice, as Bennett’s NIL deals are estimated in the $1 million range after he was pickled up by the Everett Sports Management Group.
Georgia’s run of success figures to continue with a friendly schedule that consists of Kent State, Missouri, Auburn and Vanderbilt over the next month.