Kirby Smart explains benching D'Wan Mathis for Stetson Bennett
The Georgia Bulldogs picked up a lopsided 37-10 victory at Arkansas on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean fans were satisfied with the performance.
In fact, the offense struggled, trailing the Hogs 7-5 at halftime. But, the defense and special teams were spectacular, and that is going to be the strength of Georgia moving forward.
What led coach Kirby Smart to replace starting QB D’Wan Mathis with Stetson Bennett IV during the game? He explained it in his press conference (via 247Sports):
“We were on the headphones and we talked and we said we were struggling offensively. We didn’t have a lot of rhythm and felt like we needed to change some things up,” Smart said. “I don’t know how many drives we were into with D’Wan — it felt like 5, maybe 6. I don’t know how many total it was before we went with Stetson.
“We just thought it would give us some energy. There’s some things that he can do well and he’s different than D’Wan in some of his experience. It gave us a spark. It helped us out. He’s very decisive with the ball. He makes good decisions. He understands what the defense is trying to do to him. Getting to watch them a little defensively I think helped him. Right now going forward we’ll decide this week how we’ll go forward. We’ve got to go back and watch the tape. Not all of those things that went wrong were D’Wan’s fault. I know a lot of people will blame D’Wan — fans, media, whatever — but at the end of the day it’s on all of us to get it right. Not all those were bad decisions. Not all of those were bad throws. He made some good throws, but we’ve got to get better, that’s for sure.”
Moving forward, the Dawgs will have to decide between Mathis, Bennett and potentially JT Daniels if he is cleared. Smart said he has confidence in all of his quarterbacks:
“I was comfortable with Stetson,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you guys, I’ve got a lot of confidence with all of our quarterbacks and I actually still have confidence in D’Wan. We didn’t execute well. It’s not all D’Wan’s fault. We did that to try to inject some energy. You do that sometimes to try to get some enthusiasm. You change up backs, you change up wide receivers and probably no greater position than quarterback where you have to provide some energy if it’s not going the way you need it to go and fortunately Stetson was able to do that. It’s not like we had to walk Stetson into it. Stetson’s he takes reps in practice. He functions in practices, in scrimmages when we had our scrimmages. He does a good job of leading the offense. He did that a couple of years ago in the spring game when he went out and did some good things.”
Who will get the start against Auburn next weekend? We’ll see what Smart says this coming week.