Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett has loved a serious rebound marketing campaign in 2021 after coming in for JT Daniels earlier in the yr.
But on Saturday, Bennett bumped into his first main problem of the season. Facing No. 3 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Bennett carried out effectively, finishing 29-of-48 passes for 340 yards with three touchdowns.
However, his second half was marred by a pair of interceptions, together with a back-breaking pick-six in the fourth quarter, because the Crimson Tide routed the beforehand undefeated, No. 1 Bulldogs 41-24.
Georgia remains to be probably in the College Football Playoff, all however sure to select up the No. 3 or 4 spot in the rankings after taking solely its first lack of the season, however the Bulldogs will now be confronted with the query of whether or not Bennett or Daniels leads the offense in its subsequent recreation.
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After the sport, head coach Kirby Smart was requested whether or not he’d contemplate a change at quarterback for the following recreation. Smart mentioned that each week, a choice is made at each place, however that he additionally has the “utmost confidence” in Bennett and mentioned he felt his quarterback “did some very nice issues tonight.”
“We go and reevaluate everything all the time, but he played well and it’s a tough environment we put him in defensively and didn’t, we have to be able to run the ball and have a little bit of semblance of balance,” Smart said. “I thought there was times tonight that we were getting into a scoring contest because our defense didn’t get stops. And you don’t want to have to do that. But I certainly have a lot of confidence in Stetson and I have a lot of confidence in JT too.”
There are two issues price noting to start out. First, Bennett will not be solely in charge for the loss. The protection that got here into the sport ranked No. 1 in each scoring and whole protection gave up 34 of the 41 factors and 536 whole yards to the Crimson Tide and Heisman Trophy favourite Bryce Young.
And second, Bennett performed a stable first half. In the primary half of the SEC Championship Game, Bennett accomplished 11-of-16 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Most different video games, that may get it executed.
But it was clear early in the third quarter that Bennett wasn’t the quarterback to go toe-to-toe with Young and Alabama in a shootout. He accomplished simply 8-of-13 passes for 53 yards with an interception and no touchdowns in the third quarter. Young, by comparability, was 3-for-7 with 72 yards and a landing to place Alabama up by two touchdowns.
It did not get a lot better in the fourth, even because the Bulldogs have been pressured to throw. Bennett accomplished 10-of-19 passes with 119 passing yards and a landing, however behind Bennett the Bulldogs have been 0-for-3 on third down.
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Bennett has not discovered himself in a shootout at any level this season. Georgia has solely as soon as completed a recreation inside two touchdowns of its opponents, and that got here in Week 1 in opposition to Clemson with Daniels below heart.
Daniels performed the crew’s first recreation of the season in opposition to Clemson, however was unavailable for the following recreation in opposition to UAB as a result of an indirect damage. He returned to start out in opposition to South Carolina and torched Vanderbilt in the primary quarter of the following recreation on Sept. 25, however was then out till Nov. 6 as he continued to take care of accidents.
Bennett crammed in from that time on because the starter and flourished, ending the common season with 21 landing passes, 5 interceptions, 1,985 passing yards and a completion share of 65 %.
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This wasn’t Bennett’s first go-round at Georgia. He was the starter in 2020, and was unspectacular, posting a 55.5 completion share, 1,179 passing yards, eight landing passes and 6 interceptions. Daniels, who had simply come over from USC as a switch, took over and dazzled in 4 video games, finishing 67.2 % of his passes for 1,231 yards with 10 passing touchdowns and two interceptions.
Daniels, a former five-star recruit, probably would have remained the full-time starter in 2021 had he not handled accidents early in the marketing campaign.
Though Daniels has crammed in solely sporadically in a backup function for Bennett, he has nonetheless proven the flexibility to be a game-changing quarterback. His numbers general in 2021: 72.3 completion share, 722 passing yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
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That hype — and former success — is what contributed to followers calling for Daniels to interchange Bennett in the second half in opposition to Alabama. The first interception by Bennett got here with the Bulldogs in the crimson zone that took away a attainable scoring likelihood.
The second resulted in seven factors — for the Crimson Tide.
“The first one was a nasty determination, the second I didn’t see the protection driving,” Bennett mentioned after the sport. “You can’t have these two performs in opposition to gamers like this. And they made us pay for it.”
Would the QB change have made a distinction? It definitely would not have stopped the Alabama offense, but it surely would possibly’ve injected some life right into a Georgia offense that scored solely seven factors in the second half.
And it definitely did not cease the faculty soccer world from calling on Smart to make the change.
Kirby Smart would quite lose at Georgia with guys Jake Fromm and Stetson Bennett than win with a QB like Justin Fields. Really makes you suppose. pic.twitter.com/4Z1a0SDend
— Cant Beat Saban (@TheDawgzilla) December 5, 2021
lol if kirby good trot stetson bennett on the market once more for the rematch subsequent month he ought to get arrested
— Dillon Saks (@SenorFavio) December 4, 2021
Kirby gotta go to Daniels…Stetson Bennett stinks
— Tim Shoemaker (@TimShoemaker) December 4, 2021
What on earth has JT Daniels executed to have to sit down and watch this all night time?
— steakshapiro (@steakshapiro) December 5, 2021
Georgia’s highway to a nationwide championship will virtually definitely undergo Alabama. The Crimson Tide are prone to be No. 1, and the Bulldogs determine to be both No. 3 or No. 4 — assuming No. 2 Michigan wins the Big Ten championship.
Bennett was the starter all through the sport in opposition to the Crimson Tide this time round and he put up 24 factors. The subsequent time the Bulldogs face Alabama, Smart might need to check out what Daniels can supply the offense.