The Georgia football team has gone through the wringer over the past few months trying to find players who will become the leaders they need. This was evident during the first week of spring practice when head coach Kirby Smart laid down a challenge for returning quarterback Stetson Bennett.
Smart knows what the championship quarterback can do on the field. He wants to see him become a leader off the field as well.
“He’d be the first to tell you he can grow and get better,” Smart said. “We have high expectations for Stetson, but we also have high expectations of what we expect Stetson to do in terms of leading our offense, in terms of going to class and doing the right things. We’re still challenging him to do those things.”
Getting past some of what Smart called “bone-headed” throws is also something this staff wants Bennett to clean up.
Now, after a scrimmage and a few more spring practices, it sounds as if Bennett has stepped up to the challenge.
“Stetson has taken some really good quality reps here in the scrimmage. He has been really consistent here in the spring and he has been really comfortable. When things break down, he doesn’t have to go make a play like he used to think he had to. He makes a good throw or he runs the ball and those are two positive things that Stetson has done. He has been really consistent this spring doing that. He does not have the snafus that we used to have just because he tried to force the ball. He hasn’t done that.”
Kirby also said that he never wants to cause a fuss or downgrade what Stetson has already accomplished at Georgia. He just wants to challenge him as he would any player on the Bulldogs roster. With Smart’s call to leadership, Stetson now has new motivation to come out this spring and take advantage of opportunities. And according to Smart, Stetson is now playing his best football since arriving at Georgia.
“Stetson is really taking on the role we’ve asked him to do. He’s been a good leader. He’s playing the best football he’s played since being here, and he continues to get better. I want to see him continue to do that. I want him to continue to get reps, so he can grow.
“He made two or three plays in the scrimmage with his feet that I don’t know how many guys can make where he’s elusive,” Kirby added. “He’s not live, so it’s hard to measure that, but to play within the offense, play within the systems. We’re not going to go out there and run the guy 35 times and rush for 300 yards, so he has to play quarterback. He has to deal with the ball and get it to the right playmakers around him. Right now, we’re not even playing with a fully loaded offensive gun, so he is having to do it with the guys we got. I think he’s doing a pretty good job of that.”
The Bulldogs are closing in on the finale of spring practice, with a lot of work to do over the next five months. This team needs to find some depth at certain spots, especially with a few contributors out this spring, which is why summer workouts will be so important.
But one thing looks to be certain and it’s that Stetson Bennett is working his tail off this spring and earning the praise of Kirby Smart, who hopes he can carry it over to the season. That’s exactly what you want to hear out of your head coach about an intended starter.
Get ready, the second Stetson Bennett tour looks to be on track to start in early September.