In spite of all the naysayers and doubters who claimed Stetson Bennett did not have the tools to lead the team to a win in the National Championship, he managed to prove everyone wrong as the Dawgs captured the title for the first time in 40 years. Now, it helps having one of the most dominant defensive units that has ever stepped on the field in college football, holding opponents to a NCAA-best 10.2 PPG. To say the UGA defense was nothing less than terrifying week in and week out would just not do the squad justice.
In 2021, Bennett finished his championship season with 2,862 total passing yards, 29 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 64.5% completion percentage. In his previous two seasons playing for the Bulldogs, Bennett compiled a combined 1,439 passing yards, roughly half of his total from last fall. Now let’s jump to 2022 and get ready for a new season of Bulldog football. Though Bennett has been in Athens since 2017, this will be his first season coming in as the starting quarterback.
Coming into this season, there aren’t as many open chairs in the QB room compared to last year. JT Daniels jumped into the portal and ended up in Morgantown with the Mountaineers. On the current roster, there are SEVEN quarterbacks including Brock Vandagriff and Collin Drake, freshman Gunner Stockton, redshirt sophomores Jackson Muschamp and Carson Beck, junior Nathan Priestley and Stetson Bennett.
Dawgnation’s Connor Riley joined Dukes & Bell and talked about having a healthy receiving corps and the impact it could have on Stetson Bennett’s season. “A season ago, the passing offense was essentially Brock Bowers and whichever wide receivers were able to be healthy,” Connor stated. He added, “If you get a healthy, faster, better Kearis Jackson, who’s now in his fifth year in the Georgia program, that’s going to open up so many other things. That’s going to take guys away from the middle of the field where Brock Bowers, Darnell Washington and Arik Gilbert will be posted up. Connor also claimed, “If you have a healthy Arian Smith on the outside, that’s going to stretch the defense and open up the running lanes for guys like Kendall Milton and Kenny McIntosh.
When asked if Stetson would be able to recreate his stats from last season and possibly disrupt the Heisman race, Connor said, “I do think going forward with Stetson, there is plenty of room for improvement in terms of statistical improvement…I don’t think it’s a big jump, at all, for Stetson to go from 29 touchdowns in 12 games a season ago. I think he can easily get to 35 and push to even 40.”
I think it’s safe to say that the Georgia defense will definitely take a step back this season so that just means that Stetson will have more opportunities to pad his stats and push his way into the Heisman conversation. The Georgia supporting cast could be enough to prop him up into a Heisman contender in 2022, but in order to close it out as the winner, Bennett can’t be a game manager. He’ll need to have high-level quarterbacking moments and step up in tense situations.
Right now, his odds are at 200-to-1.
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