Georgia football: Stetson Bennett closes the book on QB debate. Is Heisman next?
At the end of Saturday’s 41-17 win over Tennessee, there was some discussion on the CBS Sports broadcast of JT Daniels’ position on the team, and the complementary relationship Daniels has with Stetson Bennett.
However, as the cameras panned back to Bennett, there was a distinct difference in the uniforms of the 2 Georgia quarterbacks. Daniels’ uniform looked as if it had just come out of the box, while Bennett’s seemed ready for a Tide commercial.
For the first time in recent memory, there wasn’t a wonder about Daniels getting in the game, even with the other backups, and there wasn’t major hand-wringing about it. The debate is settled, and never more so than after Georgia accomplished a slew of program feats.
Georgia checked off another historic marker by going 8-0 in the SEC, and is 10-0 for the first time since 1982. The seemingly final “blueprint” opponent to challenge the No. 1 team in America was dispatched rather easily, especially after an early touchdown.
What Bennett delivered to Kirby Smart on Saturday, though, was closure that he did, in fact, make the correct call on the quarterback, and each game there is another reminder. The questions about downfield passing, and ability to read a defense are long over with, and now Bennett is adding another tool, such as red-zone scrambling, which led to a touchdown as he tumbled over the goal line. Last week was the downfield passing element. This week, it’s the improvised scrambling that is so effective, Georgia coaches should look to incorporate it more into the plan.
It’s another reminder that Bennett was being judged by all the things that don’t matter in the SEC, and College Football Playoff scene: measurables and the eye test. Bennett will not make scouts drop their tape measures and stop watches at the Combine in the spring, but the players who will haven’t led their team to an undefeated start, and a new wrinkle each week.
Bennett improved to 10-2 as a starter and long since captured the hearts of his teammates. Fans and media? It’s a different story, but they’re coming around.
That begs the next question. Why isn’t the starting quarterback on the undefeated No. 1 team in the country in the Heisman Trophy conversation more than he is? It seems his odds are somewhere around 100-1 to win the Heisman. Sure, there’s Bryce Young, Matt Corral, Kenneth Walker III, and a couple of defensive wild cards like Jordan Davis and Will Anderson. But there’s really no reason Bennett shouldn’t get an invitation to New York. Style points aren’t handed out until the NFL Draft, and even then, most of them are wrong, anyway.
There’s nothing Bennett has left to prove, and if Alabama is the question, Bennett has proven to be more than capable compared to Zach Calzada of Texas A&M and Emory Jones at Florida, the quarterbacks of the teams that pushed the Crimson Tide the most this year, with the Aggies coming out on top.
In the wake of other national storylines like Kyle Trask at Florida, and Mac Jones at Alabama waiting their turn, Bennett was 3rd-string from spring, through summer and fall, and all after the well-documented transfer from junior college. Bennett’s character is shining through and paying dividends.
Bennett has accomplished one of the sweetest feats in sports: silencing the critics and skeptics.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that the explanation from Smart was that the QB position would be decided in practice. But Daniels has been healthy for more than a week, and it appears that Bennett has proved himself in a game once more. Bennett’s style fits Georgia’s offense and defense, and the program has learned how to fit around him.
Bennett’s improvised scrambling ability offers offensive coordinator Todd Monken another element, and Bennett has an intangible effect on teammates that can’t be measured, even with analytics.