Coach Smart Explains the Decision to Insert Stetson Bennett vs. South Carolina
Athens, GA- While UGA celebrates a 40-13 victory over South Carolina, outsiders were pondering a moe by Coach Smart in the first quarter when backup QB Stetson Bennett was inserted into the game while Georgia was up 14-0.
“We thought Stetson really practiced well and he and JT rolled all week,” Smart said on his decision. “We told them, I guess it was Thursday or Friday, we called them in and said, ‘Hey look, you’re both going to play. We think JT is healthy enough to go but we’re going to play you, Stetson.’”
This move was similar to the UAB game, JT Daniels was out due to an oblique injury so Backup QB Stetson Bennett started and played the first two drives for Georgia and then redshirt freshman Carson Beck entered the game on the third drive of the game.
The game plan backfired against South Carolina. Georgia offense seemed to be rolling and then Bennett was intercepted by Jaylan Foster on a pass that was intended for freshman Brock Bowers. Following the return, the Gamecocks had the ball on Georgia’s 12-yard line.
“It’s an unfortunate deal,” Smart said. “Brock’s route was a little shallow and he probably shouldn’t have thrown it there. He threw it a little high, it sailed on him, and it got picked. Unfortunate for Stetson but he did have a good week of practice.”
The Georgia defense held South Carolina to a field goal, thus making it a 14-6 score. Bennett didn’t see the field again until garbage time, with Georgia quickly going back to Daniels.
A week after missing the UAB game, Daniels looked healthy and threw for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also threw an interception to Foster, but that came in the third quarter with Georgia in control up 40-6.
Bennett entered the game in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. He finished the night 1-for-3 with just a 4-yard completion. Backup QB Carson Beck did not take a snap for the Bulldogs, indicating Bennett may now have the No. 2 quarterback role.
“I’ve said it all along, and I continue to say it and stand by it, I have a lot of confidence in our quarterbacks, a lot of confidence in our quarterbacks,” Smart said. “I can’t say that I’ve ever had as much confidence in three or four guys that I’ve ever had. Stetson earned that right and it just didn’t work out.”
When asked about the move, JT Daniels said the following: “They don’t pay me to make that decision so I don’t spend much time thinking about it,”
Unsure about what the plan is going forward as UGA's schedule ramps up, but I believe Kirby may need to treat the QB position a little different than the other 10 positions. As some say, Go with the horse that got you there!