Taking A Look: Quarterbacks
Having Bennett back is a huge...
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) during the Bulldogs' game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Photo by Skylar Lien)
Over the next couple of weeks, DogWatch will be examining each position group as spring practice nears, and Georgia gets started on prepping for the 2021 season.
So, let’s start with the quarterback position.
Bennett’s impact as a backup
Some Georgia fans may not want to hear this, but having Stetson Bennett IV return for the 2021 season is huge. He more than likely is going to be the backup heading into the season-opener against Clemson. Bennett’s previous experience is invaluable and the fact that he’s shown he can win games is important.
He may have struggled at times last season, although you have to remember if he doesn’t come in against Arkansas, Georgia more than likely loses that game. In that situation, D’wan Mathis is struggling, Carson Beck had never played a down of collegiate football and J.T. Daniels was still struggling from a previous injury. Bennett proved then he was the top-dog at the time.
Bennett is one of the main reasons that UGA beat Auburn and Tennesse in 2020. Plus, he’s the only quarterback that played against Alabama last season who had a lead over the national champions. In a situation where Daniels gets hurt against Clemson, many fans will call for incoming freshman Brock Vandagriff to save the day, but who do you think the coaching staff will choose? My money is on "‘The Mailman.’
Bennett may not be the most physically gifted quarterback, but he bleeds red and black.
So, in closing, competition is going to be key this spring heading into summer workouts, but having a guy like Bennett back isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In his four starts last year, the USC transfer completed 80-of-119 passes for 1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. Those are great numbers considering Daniels was just a year-and-a-half removed from a terrible injury. But those numbers will need to be better in 2021 if Georgia wants a shot at the national title.
The Bulldogs are going to HAVE to score more points next season, and head coach Kirby Smart already knows that. That means that Georgia is more than likely going to an air attack ready for the season-opener. It had success last year in the last four games, so it should improve with some valuable reps this spring and summer. It was a shame Georgia didn’t have that last fall due to COVID-19.
Last season in his UGA debut, Daniels threw for over 400 yards, which was a feat that hadn’t been done since Aaron Murray did it against Auburn in 2013. Previous to Daniels’ first game, under Smart, Georgia just had four other 300-plus passing yard performances. Both Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm had two, respectively.
Without a question, Daniels will need more games like the one against Mississippi State to excel in 2021. Consistency is the key and Daniels has shown that, but the only legitimate passing defense he played against last season was Cincinnati. He will face much better competition this season, but the season opener will be interesting. Last season, Clemson had the No. 35 ranked team passing efficiency defense and were ranked No. 41 in passing yards allowed.
JT Daniels #18 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs the ball during the 2020 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl NCAA football game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Cincinnati Bearcats, Jan. 1, 2021, in Atlanta. (Jason Parkhurst via Abell Images for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl)