ATHENS — Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has now proven himself as more than a one-hit wonder, and beating a Top 10 team on national television is more than just a future “Cool Story, Bro.”
Bennett, a former walk-on, former junior college player and former fifth-string quarterback as recently as July, is yet another inspirational example of what an happen when you work hard and believe in yourself.
Bennett’s stock held even in this week’s “Stock Report,” a compliment to how well he played coming off the bench in a 37-10 win at Arkansas when he had no idea he would be playing.
Bennett knew he would be starting against Auburn, and Coach Kirby Smart has indicated he will start against against Tennessee when the bitter rivals meet at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
In this me-first world of transfers at every turn, Bennett offers a refreshing storage of staying prepared while showing the maturity to maintain a positive attitude while supporting teammates and biding his time.
It’s not for everyone, as Smart pointed out.
“I think what’s unique about Stetson, the guy handled everything the right way.,’ Smart said. “Some people could argue that maybe we didn’t make the right decision in the first game, and maybe he should have been the guy.
“But not only was he not the guy, he was not getting a lot of reps early in camp, and to his credit, the reps he got he took a lot of value in,” Smart said. He was like a pro third-string quarterback, and he was back behind the huddle going through his steps.
“To be honest he didn’t cry, pout, leave, transfer or do anything, or have his parents call. He just kept working and working and working, and when he got an opportunity, he took advantage of it.”
One can apply Smart’s words however they choose.
Kearis Jackson: Coaches love it when their team leaders and best character players become the best performers on the team, and that’s what Jackson did with his nine catches for 147 yards against Auburn. Jackson had a hamstring injury in Year One, and broken hand in Year Two, and now healthy, he’s a key to the Air Raid concepts Todd Monken is running.
Tyson Campbell: Big-time performance on Auburn’s play-making receiver Seth Williams. Campbell is a true talent who has overcome a shoulder and foot injury and is beginning to play like the All-American Kirby Smart believed he was when he started him as a true freshman over Eric Stokes.
James Cook: Cook finally showed in a game what all his teammates have raved about the past three seasons of practices. It was good to see the South Florida back run with some heart and authority, which will only serve to makes his moves that much more effective when he opts for the shake and bake. Smart said Cook could have returned to the game after leaving with an arm injury.
Jordan Davis: Noseguards don’t often make four tackles, but Davis is beginning to show why so many believe he has first-round NFL draft potential. Davis also lined up as a tight end and provided some powerful blocking in short yardage.
Stetson Bennett: Bennett won his first career start against a Top 10 team, performing in much the same fashion as he did when he came on in relief of D’Wan Mathis in the opening game to rally Georgia to a 37-10 victory. Bennett has room to improve with his accuracy and timing, something Tennessee will surely challenge.
Monty Rice: The Georgia middle linebacker got rough with Auburn and provided the sort of toughness and leadership the Bulldogs desperately need in the locker room. For all the talent, Georgia has lacked the killer instinct of a champion, and now that it’s Rice’s senior year, he has one more chance to insist his teammates follow his lead.
Zamir White: The redshirt sophomore showed some nice cuts and took advantage of his room to run, averaging 4.6 yards on 19 carries. White is an adequate SEC running back at this stage who is showing signs of regaining confidence in his knees and beginning to use his vision. It’s a tough comeback from two knee surgeries. This was another step in the right direction.
George Pickens: This talented wideout was whistled for motion and holding, and those are penalties that should not happen to a player of Pickens’ great talents. It’s hard to hold the two-catch performance against Pickens, because that had more to do with the coverages Auburn was playing.
Jack Podlesny: It’s not unforgivable to miss a 42-yard field goal, but if we’re being honest his stock had nowhere to go but down after making his first four attempts this season.
(player to keep an eye on this week)
Jalen Carter: Coaches don’t often entrust a true freshman defensive lineman to line up in the backfield as a fullback, but it has become evident quickly that Carter is even more special than his 5-star rating suggested. Keep an eye out for No. 88, he’s already doing amazing things.