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Todd Monken defends Stetson Bennett, believes he can win Georgia a national title
Miami, Fl. — Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken recently spoke to the media for the first time since the preseason.
Many of the questions revolved around Georgia’s quarterback situation and Stetson Bennett.
The senior quarterback has recently received a lot of criticism this season about his performance for the Bulldogs following the SEC Championship Game defeat to Alabama.
Regardless, Bennett has gotten his squad to this point in the season, which Monken confirmed to the media on Tuesday.
"There's no doubt in my mind we can win the national championship,” Monken told reporters on Tuesday. “There’s also no doubt in my mind we can win it with Stetson Bennett.”
JT Daniels was the starter in the season opener against Clemson, but it was reported afterward that he played with an oblique injury. That upper-body ailment ended up causing the former USC quarterback to miss Georgia’s matchup against UAB in Week 2. Bennett started in his absence against the Blazers and threw for a career-high five touchdowns.
Daniels resumed as the starter against South Carolina the following week. He also played at Vanderbilt in the first quarter, although he was eventually pulled from the contest. It was revealed after the win over the Commodores that Daniels was dealing with a grade-one lat strain.
That allowed Bennett to take over as the starter against Arkansas on Oct. 2. Since then, he’s been QB1 and has helped lead Georgia to reach the College Football Playoff semifinal.
Monken explained that he’s been impressed with how Bennett has handled the pressure.
“You turn on the film and look at some of the throws he makes, the decisions he makes, the things he does with his feet,” Monken said. “There's no doubt in my mind we can win it with Stetson Bennett.”
He also acknowledged that there’s no knock against Daniels, but rather that Bennett has shined and taken advantage of the situation.
“It's nothing really that JT did, and it just happened to where Stetson got an opportunity, took advantage of that opportunity, we continued to win,” Monken said “It never really ended up flipping the other way.“
It has ultimately come down to what Bennett has shown the coaching staff in practices throughout the season. His ability to extend plays and make instant decisions was “undervalued” by Monken and Georgia sixth-year head coach Kirby Smart.
“We've tried to elevate guys that have talent on our roster, and we do that at every position,” Monken said. “Some guys just combat that and fight and scratch and continue to play well. They try to prove you wrong, and that's exactly what Stetson Bennett did.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound quarterback has completed 148-of-231 passes (61.4 percent) for 2,325 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He’s also totaled 251 yards on 45 rush attempts and scored a touchdown. Bennett’s currently averaging 5.57 yards per carry.
Monken praised Bennett for his production and how he’s approached everything.
“We went into the championship game with Stetson [Bennett] as our quarterback as a favorite over a team that hasn't been an underdog in over five years,” Monken said. “That ought to tell you [a lot] about our quarterback and how he played, and some reason we get into this stereotyping of players based on where they were at some point. Okay, at some point. Be it one was a walk-on, one was a five-star, whatever. If you just look at the production and what he's done for our football team, it's impressive.”
Georgia is set to face No. 2 Michigan in the Orange Bowl at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. The Bulldogs are Wolverines will play at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Here is the video from Monken’s interview: