It’s not everyday that the No. 2 team in the country can get by without their starting quarterback and get the most out of a former walk-on. But that’s what we’ve seen out of Georgia over the past month, as JT Daniels continues to rehab an injury.
The Dawgs have had to rely on Stetson Bennett IV over the last few weeks, either in relief or as the starter. He is 29-41 for 515 yards and 6 TDs, five of which came against UAB. But for Bennett’s sake, they haven’t relied on the passing game much, even against Arkansas, where he only threw for 72 yards. The Dawgs have been relying on the defense and the rushing attack to make opposing teams uncomfortable, and it has worked. The Dawgs rushed for 273 yards against Arkansas alone.
Kirby Smart discussed the run game, which has definitely taken the pressure off the quarterback position.
“You always try to take what the defense gives you. That was part of our game plan. That’s why we have meetings all week to prepare. You put ideas together. Sometime your ideas work and sometimes they don’t. You have to have another plan if things aren’t going. That’s what you do all off-season. We didn’t do anything different in terms of our base run game. Just doing it more often and trying to have success doing it.”
But this week could be a different animal, if Auburn puts together a good game plan. The Tigers will rely on Bo Nix to make plays outside the pocket and down the field, forcing the Dawgs’ secondary to play up. If Auburn can somehow do something that Georgia’s last two opponents couldn’t, which is score, then things could get interesting.
If JT Daniels cannot get his shoulder in the right place before kickoff, then the dynamic of the game will certainly change. I understand that Stetson Bennett has performed well at home, but going on the road in this conference is a whole different animal, especially at Auburn. Georgia can’t just run the football and get out with a 30-point victory. Not against this team. The Tigers are going to make the Dawgs throw it, which could make this game closer than the experts think.
But even if Stetson Bennett has to start once again, at least he doesn’t get rattled easily.
“He’s got good moxy and good confidence, good composure,” Smart said of Bennett. “You don’t see him real rattled very often. He handles success and ups and downs really well, so I think he has got good wiring for a quarterback.”
Georgia has had a lot of success this season, no matter who’s taken the snaps. But on Saturday, it could end up mattering just a bit more than previous games, which is exactly what Auburn wants.
On the other hand, Georgia could just come out and put up the type of performances we’ve seen over the last five weeks and humble the Tigers. Nothing would shock me in regards to this Georgia football team, especially with that defense.