QB Bennett, black jerseys may be back for Bulldogs Saturday

The Georgia Bulldogs last wore black jerseys when Nick Chubb was still a junior running back and scored two touchdowns in a win against Louisiana-LaFayette on Nov. 19, 2016 (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)
The Georgia Bulldogs last wore black jerseys when Nick Chubb was still a junior running back and scored two touchdowns in a win against Louisiana-LaFayette on Nov. 19, 2016 (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs delivered two important bits of news after practice on Tuesday: One, Stetson Bennett is back at practice competing for the starting quarterback job; and, two, the Bulldogs’ infamous black jerseys might be in play for Saturday’s game against Mississippi State.

Which of those nuggets are most important likely depends on the individual receiving them.

As for Bennett, the redshirt junior from Blackshear barely practiced at all last week and then in a very limited capacity due to a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder. But the four-game starter was back on the field taking reps with the No. 1 offense on Tuesday. Whether that means he’ll start or even play Saturday against the Western Division Bulldogs (2-4) remains to be seen.

“Stetson was out there and able to go today,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said following the Bulldogs' two-hour practice at the Butts-Mehre football complex. “He was able to do some things. And him and D’Wan (Mathis) and JT (Daniels) and Carson (Beck) all got work.”

Bennett and Mathis are the only two quarterbacks to have played for the Bulldogs this season. But neither has excelled throwing the football. Combined they’ve completed just 52% of their passes for an average of 209 yards a game with nine touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Credit: Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart comments on the status of his quarterbacks ahead game against Mississippi State.

Credit: Georgia Bulldogs

Now eight weeks past getting clearance from Georgia’s medical staff for his ACL injury, Daniels has been getting first-string work for the first time all year the last two weeks. So he’s in position to get his first playing time all year.

Daniels also played against Mike Leach’s Washington State team when the QB was a freshman starter at Southern Cal in 2018. The Trojans upset the Cougars 39-36 on the strength of Daniels' 241 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Leach remembered Daniels, then a 17-year-old freshman, well.

“Good player, throws the ball well,” Leach said Monday. “I was impressed with him. A statuesque guy that throws the ball well.”

But Smart doesn’t see that as an inherent advantage or reason to go with Daniels on Saturday.

“It wasn’t a Mike Leach-coached defense (Daniels) played against,” Smart said. “So, I don’t know where that would benefit him because the (defensive) coordinator’s not the same.”

The quarterback starter will be a game-time decision.

Meanwhile, whether to wearing black jerseys on Saturday is something that the Bulldogs are actively discussing. Smart indicated the team’s leadership will deliberate and render a decision before the week is out.

“We’re not sure yet; we’re contemplating some of that, but we’re not completely committed to it yet,” Smart said Tuesday. “We’re going to wait and see a couple of things with our leadership and our other senior groups.”

Georgia has a checkered past and a somewhat love-hate relationship with its rarely-worn black jerseys. The Bulldogs have donned them for some of their biggest victories and most humiliating defeats.

After becoming Georgia’s coach in December 2015, Smart has said he wants to occasionally incorporate them into the Bulldogs’ uniform rotation since it’s one of the school’s primary colors. But also, he emphasized for UGA to not make a big deal about it.

Georgia has worn them only once with Smart in charge. That was almost exactly four years ago in a 35-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 19, 2016.

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