No mistaking that Stetson Bennett is the man at quarterback for Georgia

1/10/22 - Indianapolis - Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) takes the snap as offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54) and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (69) blocks during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, January 10, 2022.   Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Combined ShapeCaption
1/10/22 - Indianapolis - Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) takes the snap as offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54) and offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (69) blocks during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Monday, January 10, 2022. Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

SPRING PREVIEW 2022: QUARTERBACKS

ATHENS – Stetson Bennett is the man. If you don’t think that – or know that – then you’re not paying attention.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken put their necks on the line last year for the undersized former walk-on quarterback from Blackshear. Despite having a much more prototypical former 5-star quarterback ready to go and two similar options waiting in the wings, the Bulldogs’ coaching staff chose to stick with the unconventional Bennett in their quest to run down Georgia’s first national championship in 41 years.

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That happened Jan. 10, by the way.

The coaches did that because, after considerable trial-and-error sizing up Georgia’s total offensive capabilities and options, they determined “Stetson gave us the best chance to win.” Their words.

Bennett did, and he still does. Between not having traditional big-play threats at receiver and in the backfield and a solid but fallible offensive line, Bennett combined mobility, flexibility and reliability to make Georgia’s offense the best that it could be.

With options to go elsewhere or just hang up the cleats and head on to law school, Bennett chose to return to UGA for a sixth season as a college football quarterback. You can be certain that decision came with the staff’s blessing -- and guarantee.

  • Returning starters: Stetson Bennett (5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Sr.)
  • All eyes on: The other quarterbacks
  • Outlook: Georgia’s exceptional situation at quarterback starts with Bennett, but goes beyond that in terms of depth and potential. College teams with a returning starter at quarterback typically improve their win percentage by 2.4% since 2013, according to the New York Post. That number rises to 12.2% when returning eight other starters on offense. Hard to imagine the Bulldogs improving dramatically over 14-1 last season, but that’s certainly reason for optimism. As for Bennett, it’s hard to believe that he was not included in a recent Pro Football Focus list of the top 10 returning college QBs. No doubt Bennett made a note. Regardless of perception, Bennett finished No. 3 in the nation in total QBR (86.7) and No. 4 in pass efficiency (176.69), which broke Aaron Murray’s school record. In raw numbers, Bennett played in 14 games and finished with 3,121 yards offense with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. And for the first time in his career, he enters a season as the undisputed starter. … The real interest will be in the playing time available behind Bennett. Heading into spring practice, sophomore Carson Beck (6-4, 220) still is with the team and angling for reps. At the same time, redshirt freshman Brock Vandagriff (6-3, 210) really started turning heads as a scout-team signal-caller toward the end of last season and brings an intriguing blend of mobility and arm talent to the field. Four-star signee Gunner Stockton (6-1, 210) is an early enrollee and additional depth comes in the form of walk-ons Collin Drake, Jackson Muschamp and Nathan Priestley. Without a doubt, though, Bennett is the man.
  • Up next: Wide receivers

PREVIOUSLY

Spring Preview 2022 is a 10-part series that will take a look at each of Georgia’s position groups daily until the Bulldogs open spring practice March 15.