Todd Monken had a great game plan in the passing game and it resulted in open receivers consistently. But that’ll only take you so far if you aren’t throwing to the open man. Stetson Bennett IV did some good things on Saturday but if you were to sit down with him right now and get him to speak candidly, he’ll tell you that he missed some golden opportunities.
The first came on the batted interception where he tried to key on the middle of the field. He tries to throw the football over the traffic and into tight coverage when he had Tre’ McKitty standing all alone in the left flat for what would have at least given Jack Podlesny a chance for a 40-45 yard field goal. Bennett doesn’t seem comfortable throwing the football short and to the perimeter unless it’s a designed play or his first read. [Emphasis added.]
Here’s a clip of the three interceptions from Saturday night.
On that first interception, McKitty curls into the left flat and there’s nobody near him. Now, I realize the snap wasn’t particularly good and that may have led Stetson to make a quick decision and give up on reading the field, but the pass protection was actually good enough there for him to reset.
I’ve already posted about the second pick. (Again, there’s an open McKitty as a viable option.) The third pick was simply a bad decision made worse by poor mechanics. As I watched the play unfold, I assumed he was going to throw the ball out of bounds after dodging what would have been a brutal sack and live to fight another play. You knew as soon as the ball left his hands it wouldn’t end well.
That being said, it’s easy to explain that last one as him simply trying to do too much to rally the team. I get that and I’m pretty confident he’ll learn from that mistake. It’s the not trusting Monken’s passing scheme that bugs me more. Bennett left a lot of yardage on the table in that game because of that and that’s got to get fixed.
He’s also got to do a better job of recognizing what a defense is trying to take away and what that leaves him to work with.
Again, it seemed like Monken left him with better options. Stetson’s got to trust more.
UPDATE: Hey, don’t just ask me. Take it from the head honcho.
Georgia is going back to fundamentals this week in practice as it goes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Expect quarterback Stetson Bennett to work on stepping up in the pocket.
“We do a lot of drills in practice to simulate the pocket where you have to step up and through it,” Smart said. “I think that’s one of the things Jake (Fromm) was really good at. He could fill the pocket and step up in the pocket in either run or throw. And we continue to work with Stetson on that. He’s shown the ability to do that. He didn’t always trust it Saturday, and he’s got to a good job of that. He’s got good pass protectors around him.” [Emphasis added.]
The 5-foot-11 Bennett had five passes batted down with Alabama linemen reaching out to re-direct passes.
“Alabama has really big defensive linemen, which typically push or cave in the pocket,” Smart said. “Some of it is looking for a throwing window. Some of it is being willing to pull it down and run because he’s a really good athlete and avoid that if he doesn’t have that throwing window.”
Smart said Bennett’s stature isn’t only to blame for the batted passes.
“You look across the league in the NFL, college football, height is not the greatest indicator of batted balls,” Smart said. “It’s the pocket. And a lot of that comes from experience. And he’s gaining experience. He’s not elite in experience, he doesn’t have a ton of it.”