Georgia's only remaining question is whether it can win a national title behind Stetson Bennett

Asia's Tech News Daily

If Stetson Bennett keeps playing like this, there will be no awkward moments like there were Saturday night. In the afterglow of another dominant win for No. 1 Georgia, the quarterback was asked about the conclusion — by some — that he may be the weakest point in the Bulldogs’ impenetrable armor.

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“If somebody said that to me, there’s really nothing you can say to convince them otherwise,” Bennett said. “I’d probably just walk away and just go to practice tomorrow.”

The same can’t be said for the rest of the Dawgs, who whipped No. 11 Kentucky 30-13. They’re playing like they’re actually rabid — in a football sense, of course.

Kentucky arrived at Sanford Stadium with a 6-0 record for the first time since 1950. The Wildcats left town dazed and confused.

Georgia does that to you. There were eight more tackles for loss by the defense, three of them sacks. The Dawgs blocked a field goal and an extra point. All of it made sure Georgia was the first team since 1992 Alabama to give up less than 14 points in its first seven games.

Opposing offenses have scored four touchdowns all season — two of them on Saturday.

So, there’s not much to complain about. If there is a problem for coach Kirby Smart as his team continues to pull away from the rest of college football at the halfway point, it’s what to do at quarterback.

You should know by now that Bennett, a senior, is the celebrated former walk-on who left for a junior college, transferred back to Georgia and has become somewhat of a savior with starter JT Daniels nursing yet another injury.  

Already this season, Bennett has tied the school record for touchdown passes (five against UAB). He’s completing 70% of his passes, and although it’s a small sample size (six games, 82 passes), he entered Saturday’s game leading the SEC in pass efficiency.

“Problem” is a relative term for a team that is angry about giving up double digits. But the quarterback situation begs the question: How does Smart change signal callers when Daniels is healthy?

“We evaluate that position just like we do corner, left tackle, everything,” Smart said. “It is different in the management of it, I get it.”

Sometimes, the world spins around a quarterback controversy. There isn’t one at Georgia at the moment because Bennett is playing so smoothly. Changing up at this point might upset the delicate balance of team chemistry.

It’s almost as if the Dawgs trust Bennett more because, well, he’s available. Since transferring from USC at the onset of the 2020 season, Daniels has started just seven games.

Bennett is now 8-2 as a Georgia starter over parts of three seasons. Daniels came in more celebrated, more highly recruited. Bennett just came in when needed. Now, the Dawgs may owe their season to him.

There were three more touchdown passes Saturday, giving Bennett 11. That’s the most by a Georgia quarterback since Jake Fromm in 2019. Bennett completed 14 of 20 passes, two of them going to freshman Brock Bowers.

As the Georgia steamrolling continues, the question is not only if Bennett will remain Georgia’s quarterback but whether the Dawgs can win a national championship with him under center.

“We never didn’t trust Stetson,” Smart said. “I don’t see it, ‘Oh, they opened up the offense for Stetson.’ … There’s been games we didn’t throw him much, but it wasn’t a lack of trust. It was what we could do to win the game.”

Bennett is almost trying to blend in with the woodwork. Asked to sum up his career, he said, “Walk on who transferred then got a scholarship, started a little bit, got benched, then started a little bit again this year.”

When one reporter tried to get a juicy tidbit out of Bennett’s tendency to flex after touchdowns, the quarterback demurred.

“More like a general placement of the flex,” Bennett said. “[At] no one in particular.”

Landing somewhere between a game manager and a playmaker, it’s obvious Bennett has been trusted with more of the offense. He’s getting more opportunities to throw downfield.

As for his championship credentials, why can’t Bennett be a title-winning quarterback? LSU won a crown in 2003 with Matt Mauck, a former minor league catcher. Ohio State won in 2002 with Craig Krenzel, a limited athlete who was a molecular engineering major.

Why not a former walk-on? The Dawgs (7-0) are halfway to that championship. It seems like it’s right around the corner. Georgia doesn’t play a currently ranked team the rest of the season, and it has a week off before its toughest remaining regular-season game, a rivalry showdown with Florida.

Meanwhile, the defense is so good it might have multiple Heisman Trophy candidates. If this D holds up, it will be the stingiest in a while, currently allowing 6.5 points per game. There are at least three All-Americans taking the field each week: nose guard Jordan Davis, defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and linebacker Nakobe Dean. Davis has distinguished himself as a national defensive player of the year and maybe the best Heisman candidate.

“I would probably have said before the season, ‘That’s impossible,'” Smart admitted, “because statistics lead you to believe it’s always an offensive player. I thought it was amazing last year a receiver won it. I never thought that would happen again. I thought it would be a quarterback’s world. That’s the world we live in and play in.”

After consecutive seasons of all-time offensive performances by national champions (LSU, Alabama), Georgia has dragged us back to the stone age. As in its defense is stoning opposing offenses.

At the end of watching his team become Georgia’s latest rag dolls, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops thought it was important to call a timeout. At stake was nothing except the point spread. But entries into the end zone are rare this season against the Dawgs. Stoops wanted the Wildcats to be the first this season to do it twice.

That timeout preserved an 11-minute drive that took 22 plays and covered 75 yards, the Wildcats finally scoring on a 1-yard pass with 7 seconds left. The Dawgs were visibly upset.

“They started a saying on our defense, ‘Not in our end zone,'” Smart said. “They fought tooth and nail. But give Kentucky credit; they got in there twice.”

That credit probably won’t last until the Wildcats return to Lexington, Kentucky. Meanwhile, Smart has the next challenge for his rabid Dawgs ready for the next team meeting.

“Do you want to flatline or ascend, continue to get better?” Smart said.

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