Smart talks QBs ahead of CFP matchup against Michigan
Athens, Ga. — Georgia started to practice again this week following the conclusion of finals on Wednesday.
The No. 3 Bulldogs are preparing for their matchup with No. 2 Michigan in the CFP Playoff semifinal on Dec. 31.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart met with the media on Wednesday for a joint press conference to discuss Early Signing Day and the upcoming Orange Bowl contest against the Wolverines.
As expected, the ‘quarterback debacle’ came up in discussion and Smart downplayed the comment the best he could.
“I think we have four really good quarterbacks in our system,” Smart said in response to the question. “I really feel confident in all four guys that play quarterback for us. I continue to say it and repeatedly say that all those guys are evaluated each and every day.”
Smart’s answer to the question refers to that all four quarterbacks, Stetson Bennett, JT Daniels, Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff, are being considered for the starting position. Needless to say, the question comes after Smart elected to stick with Bennett after he tossed two interceptions against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3.
His last interception was a pick-six to Crimson Tide defender Jordan Battle. That blunder proved to be the nail in the coffin as Georgia couldn’t mount a comeback in the final two quarters. Bennett didn’t directly lose the Bulldogs’ the SEC title game, although the pair of interceptions he threw didn’t help, but rather gave Alabama more of an advantage.
“Stetson [Bennett] did some really good things in the Alabama game,” Smart explained. “He also made a couple of boneheaded plays, as well. He hasn’t done that much in the past. Just like we reassess every single position, just like I said after the game. We reassess everything by how you practice, what you do and everything you do.”
Georgia’s defense got torched by eventual Heisman Trophy winner and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, especially through the air. Regardless, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing by two scores early in the third quarter. Bennett, who averaged 22.1 pass attempts per game, was in at quarterback during that point of the contest. He ended up having a career-type game in terms of passing yards, throwing for 340 yards and (three touchdowns) on 29 completions.
However, Bennett ended up throwing 48 pass attempts, which isn’t something he is used to doing. In a shoot-out type situation like that, many called for JT Daniels to take the regions of the offense at that point in the game. The former USC transfer is built for a scenario as such, but Smart stuck with his gut and let Bennett finish the game.
There’s one thing that seems to separate Bennett from Daniels, which Smart eluded to in his press conference.
“His feet have been a blessing for us,” Smart said. “His ability to run, scramble, make things open, make plays with his feet, have all been good. He made a couple of poor decisions in the last game, but he is not the only one that did that. We will continue to evaluate it.”
Smart isn’t wrong in the fact that Bennett’s ability to extend plays with his legs has been a “blessing”. However, in a high-scoring contest against Alabama, the Blackshear, Ga. native might not be the best option. That’s why many questioned Smart’s decision to stick with Bennett instead of the quarterback that’s used to throwing the ball for a majority of a game.
Senior running back James Cook believes in Bennett at quarterback.
“I got all the faith in Stetson,” Cook said on Wednesday. “I mean., I am riding with Stetson until the end. He got us to this point.”
Smart didn’t indicate that Bennett was going to be the starter moving forward, although he gave a very generic answer in response to the question.
“We’ll reassess every single position,” Smart said. “As I said after the game, we reassess everything, by how you practice (and)what you do … We’ll continue to evaluate it.”