A quarterback controversy, if you’ll have it

I’m sure I’ll be pilloried by some for having the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Stetson Bennett hasn’t been all that bad this season.  But hey, don’t take my word for that.

In Year 6, here’s Bennett, who is, by the way, the highest-rated passer in this playoff, No. 4 to the No. 5 of Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young of Alabama (with half the throws of Young), the No. 11 of Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati and the No. 54 of Cade McNamara of Michigan.

Also, this.

Monken has seen Bennett put himself on track to become Georgia’s single-season pass efficiency leader—even with the performance against Alabama. Bennett’s current efficiency rating is 176.85, a smidge better than the school record of 174.82 set by Aaron Murray in 2012. He’s also just ahead of Murray’s career efficiency mark…

Oh, and this“… and is the only quarterback in the Power Five to average more than 10 yards per throw.”

Attach those stats to quarterbacks with other names and I suspect we’d be lauding them to the skies.  But not this guy.  Why?  I suspect it’s that “even with the performance against Alabama” factor.

… It’s just that Bennett couldn’t outdo Young on the first Saturday in December and wound up with one of those days when you throw a red-zone interception and are forced to explain, “Can’t throw a pick down there.”

He also threw a second-half pick-six but overall came up north of lousy: 29 completions in 48 attempts, 340 yards, three touchdown passes, two interceptions. That left rational questions and rational answers, the coaches speaking fluent quarterback controversy.

Or, maybe it’s this.

More than anything, what Bennett has worked for at Georgia is the opportunity to step on the field without that stereotype following him. Call him a quarterback, not a former walk-on. Don’t compare his recruiting rankings to Justin Fields or Jake Fromm or Jamie Newman or D’wan Mathis or JT Daniels or any of the more celebrated QBs who have been ahead of him at some point in time—or repeated points in time—on the depth chart.

In all honesty, it’s probably a little of both.  And, no, that not outdoing Young isn’t a small matter.  In fact, if he can’t better that standard should there be a rematch in January, the outcome will be the same as it was in the SECCG.

But he also deserves a little context.  “North of lousy” is a good place to start; a 132.2 passer rating is average, not horrendous, against the Alabama defense.  Young himself notched a 110.25 against Auburn the week before, but managed to come away with a win because his team only needed to score 24 points.

I’m not suggesting that Bennett deserved to be in the Heisman conversation this season.  But it’s not crazy or disingenuous on the part of Smart or Monken to insist this team can win with Bennett as the starter.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

40 responses to “A quarterback controversy, if you’ll have it

  1. Derek

    Not at all. It can be done.

    The more difficult questions are:

    1) can he play well vs. a talented defense especially where it’s accompanied by an offense that is scoring points?
    2) is stet the best equipped guy on the roster to handle that spot?

    Stet has been fantastic. He’s played way over what anyone could have imagined when he showed up. But is he the guy that can go 2-0 in the postseason? If he does, build him a fucking statue that looks like the Colossus of Rhodes. He’d deserve it.

    Liked by 12 people

  2. RangerRuss

    If SBIV plays as well as he normally plays and the Dawg’s D does the same? National Championship comes home to Athens, y’all. I fully expect that to happen.

    Liked by 15 people

  3. Mark Turner

    The quarterback controversy was already boiling before the SECCG, so I tend to think it’s more “former walk-on” than anything else.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. jim1886

    All that is important is how he performed against Bama and how he will perform against top 4 competition.
    Is he a qb that can put a team on his back and carry it to a win like a Tebow, Lawrence, etc.
    So far, the answer is NO.
    He has 2 more opportunities to prove that he can and I hope that he can.
    If so, I will burn my Munson hat.

    Liked by 3 people

    • JoeDashDawg

      Tend to agree with this – For every pundit that pored over stats and finding that Stetson’s stats were great during the regular season in blowouts – there are those that really only saw him play against Bama.

      I thought this was funny from the Athletic “Pulse” (Daily newsletter email) –

      Alabama (-13.5) vs. Cincinnati
      “I am so, so tempted to take Cincy here. The Tide were the perfect foil for Georgia in a dominant SEC championship game, and I think the Bearcats could do well since they have a functioning quarterback.”


      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bennett has done well in games where being a game manager can get it done. The Florida game nags at me as the game where I began to think we would be in deep trouble if the defense wasn’t perfect every week especially with an offense like Alabama’s. When he has a run game that can keep the pressure off by playing in front of the chains and make play action a real threat, Bennett can make plays with his arm and his legs. When that’s not there, can he be trusted to throw the intermediate routes when everyone in the building knows it’s coming? Can he keep the sticks moving on 3rd down?

    On the question of passing efficiency, would you take Bryce Young’s #5 over Stetson Bennett’s #4? I would, and I think everyone else would, too.

    We should win tomorrow night because the match-up really favors our defense. The question is whether we have enough in the offensive tank to beat Alabama because they are going to get theirs.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. bmacdawg87

    I hate this 4 week gap between champ games and the bowls/playoff. Tired of reading and just ready to kick some wolverine ass

    Liked by 4 people

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    My best hope is SBIV will swept forward in the tsunami of a great team effort. Life was easy riding the backs of an all-world D all season. The coaching and individual performances in the secc left much to be desired. Change that, and we certainly can win it all.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. joereynard25

    Stet was amazing all year until the SECCG. He’s like the guy who plays the front nine 1 under par and then plays bogey golf on the back 9. He’s the guy who can run the table in 8 ball, unless there’s $100 on the line, then he runs 7 balls and leaves the 8 sitting in the jaws of the corner pocket for his opponent.

    Or in football terms, he’s the guy who plays well until he gets behind and feels the pressure, then he throws 2 interceptions, one for a pick six, to completely out the game out of reach. He’s shown us this time and time again.

    To be fair, we have no idea what JTD would have done in that situation. And yes, the defense certainly helped put SB4 in that situation. But he did a fair amount of it to himself as well with bad sacks, missed open receivers, and bad choices resulting in interceptions.

    I said before the SECCG that if the Dawgs fell behind SB4 would collapse and throw a pick six to seal the game. It should say something that a guy like me who never played college football could predict something that unpredictable.

    I hope to God he carries this team to a Natty, but I’ve long ago stopped holding my breath.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Derek

      I don’t think he’s choking as you suggest. Talented teams, especially well coached ones, simply expose the limitations that were already there.

      You don’t have to be the Nostradamus of football to know that if Stet is in obvious passing situations vs. Alabama that a pick six is in the offing, btw.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. Geezus

    And go-carts usually run faster when you pull the governor off the carburetor.

    I’m sure Stet’s numbers are a hell of a lot better than Buck Belue’s ever were too, but there IS one difference there.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. classiccitycanine

    I tend to think that there are a few dozen Power 5 QBs who could step into Stetson’s situation and put up similar numbers. The numbers are a product of favorable conditions more than individual talent.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Terry McCullers

    To win we have to play defense better. Do that don’t turn the ball over and yes we can win it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. mg4life0331

    Yeah he’s awesome when he throws 15-20 times a game. That’s the problem.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. waterswv

    I dunno, it’s not that he’s bad. It’s that he’s been big game Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The reason his teammates support him is because Stetson is bearing all the weight of the critics. Where is Zeus? Which WR is going to step up? Will the D play like they can and score like they did all year? Hell, why not more scrutiny of Kirby and Lanning? The whole f’ing team, starting at the top, needed to respond about their role in the SECCG. Some surely did, and the media muted some of it because a QB controversy among the fans is better clickbait, but this notion that one guy needs to carry the team on its shoulders is ludicrous. Until #34 steps on the field again (and given the state of the NCAA, why can’t he get his 4th year back?) this needs to be a team effort. We need Stetson to be great? B.S. He needs his teammates to show the F up and play like they can so he can execute at his best.

    Liked by 5 people

    • This^^^. I believe SBIV performed exactly in line with nearly everyone’s expectations in the SECCG.

      The questions/arguments/finger-pointing as to why Georgia was embarrassed should be focused elsewhere….

      Liked by 2 people

    • classiccitycanine

      I have a friend with high school coaching experience, who is an Alabama fan, and he said he’s not scared of our WR group. The more I think about it, the more I think he has a point. I’m still on the bench Stetson bandwagon though.


  15. ASEF

    There’s a very good reason that most playoff teams have featured NFL starters at QB, and the ones that didn’t at least had a guy who would start a game or two in the NFL.

    You’ve got to go back to 2015 and 2014 to find a team that won a playoff game without a future NFL guy under center. But both those guys won titles, so there’s that. Handing off to Derrick and Zeke certainly helped.

    The good news for Georgia: McNamara is by far the weakest QB in the field. It’s not like Georgi ahas to run through 2 Bryce Young’s. Just one, and that’s very doable.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2021)

    The overall efficiency numbers are extremely misleading when Bennett is only throwing the ball 19 times a game in high percentage situations, and is almost never throwing the ball in the fourth quarter. You can thank a particularly terrible SEC East for that.

    The reason why all these numbers about Bennett are b.s. is because he’s absolutely terrible against AP Top-10 teams.

    His completion percentage against AP Top-10 teams is 53%. His yards per attempt is 6.9. And he has a 7-6 TD-INT ratio. That doesn’t include his bad game against Floriduh this year, either.

    So Bennett feasts on bad teams, but against good teams, he’s not even mediocre. He’s terrible. That’s reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • moe pritchett

      To be fair:
      He’s 2-3 vs top 10…..losses to
      20 Bama-NC
      20 Flarduh- left game hurt- division champs and out D sucked that game.
      21 Bama – CFP & Conf Champs.

      2 of those teams are coached by the GOAT whether ya like him or not, he is the GOAT

      Liked by 1 person

    • charlottedawg

      I love how people can’t or won’t see that Stetson’s efficiency numbers are overly inflated by the fact that he’s being asked to throw it less than 20 throws a game and the coaches have done everything to mask him being a huge liability where championship teams usually boast their biggest strength: QB.

      Stetson Bennett is ok when he only needs to throw less than 20 times and the defense is playing lights out. Based on the history of the playoff that script is almost guaranteed not to happen. To win two playoff games you usually need to throw it 30+ times and score 40+ points per game. It’s why every national champion since 2016 was quarterbacked by a first rounder: Watson, Tua (hurts was a second rounder), burrow, Jones and young this year (yes bama is winning the NC). Stetson is incapable of doing that, therefore Georgia is GUARANTEED to lose to either Michigan or Alabama. No amount of cherry picking stats via yards per attempt or passer rating is going to change that. I would love to be wrong, but we all know how this is going to end.

      Liked by 2 people

      • PTC DAWG

        Guaranteed? You should be willing to lay some pretty big odds on that.

        10-1, 20-1? Baby needs new shoes..

        Liked by 1 person

        • charlottedawg

          Yes, guaranteed. If Georgia beats Michigan, betting on Alabama to beat Georgia, in a national championship game no less, is basically free money. If I were you I’d borrow every red cent and bet on Alabama. If Georgia’s going to lose like they always do, might as well make some money off of it.


          • PTC DAWG

            I thought you were offering the odds? I refuse to ride in your negative boat…carry on..


            • charlottedawg

              1) why would I need to offer odds when Vegas already does? 2) you call it negative, I call it accurate forecasting, you can admit I’m right now or I’ll be proven right by Jan 10.