Georgia’s Stetson Bennett Isn’t Looking To Be A ‘Savior,’ He’s Just Preparing To Finish The Job

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Heading into the Orange Bowl matchup with Michigan, the noise surrounding the quarterback position at Georgia was at full blast. The people who looked at Stetson Bennett were caught up in one game, maybe they’d forgotten the regular season or thought the competition wasn’t good enough, compared to the postseason. But coming off a stellar performance against Michigan, it sounds as if those same people are now thinking he can win it all.

If I were in Stetson’s shoes, I’d ask them to keep talking. Keep bringing up the fact that he had an average outing against Alabama, because all it does is fuel his teammates to be better for him. Take for instance the postgame interviews on the field in Miami. While Bennett was being interviewed on the field, a number of his teammates were in the background chanting his name, bringing a smile to the former walk-on quarterback. The way his team continued to have his back behind the scenes should show you the amount of confidence they have in him. Even during the week, the coaching staff continued to let folks know that Bennett gave them the best opportunity to win the game in their eyes. But the naysayers were still chirping, until Bennett hit James Cook down the sidelines for a 39-yard touchdown, in which the chirping seemed to stop like it was shot out of a tree.

His performance against Michigan was a loud shot at the folks who said he wasn’t good enough to get it done, even if he still has to face the music one more time in Indianapolis. Coming off the loss to Alabama, the big question was still being asked of this Georgia football program. Could they win the big game? The question is ok, but it seems to be played out, especially the question on if Stetson can lead this football team and come up big in key moments. Did anybody watch the Bulldogs during the regular season? Maybe folks were tuning in during the second half, when for most of the season, the starters had already finished off teams and were relaxing on the sidelines.

But if you were glued to your television for the first half of the Orange Bowl, you saw a football team bounce back from their first glimpse of adversity, while also watching Stetson Bennett throw for over 300 yards, His main focus going into the Michigan game wasn’t to prove anybody wrong or prove anything to himself, he just wanted to get better, which he spoke about on Monday.

“Like I said after the game, I thought I played all right in the SEC Championship game. I made a few mistakes that you can’t do against a good team. But I also made some really good throws, good decisions. So my main focus going into the Michigan game was cleaning up on the mistakes and keep doing what I had been doing well.

“There was no personal doubt. I knew what I had to do,” Bennett said. “Felt like I needed to play that well to beat a team like Michigan because of who they are and how talented they are. But it wasn’t to prove anything to me that I could play football in this league.”

What also stands out about Bennett and even his teammates, is the fact that they aren’t trying to do it individually. They aren’t worried about who came in with better star rankings or how one player has more success on the field than another. For a team that has so many talented players and stars, it still feels like a blue collar type of organization, even though that might sound weird to hear. But, this mentality is led by Stetson Bennett, who says this group isn’t worried about what kind of stars someone had entering the program, because this team plays with such a group mentality.

“Usually five stars are better than walk-ons. That’s typically how it goes. But I don’t know. I think our team does a good job of – our players do a good job of not really worrying about five star, who – this and that when you walk in the door because all that stuff is over, it’s wiped out.

“I don’t even know who our five stars are from this last class, I don’t know any recruiting,” Bennett added. “I know we did well like we typically do because our staff does a great job. But I don’t know who was ranked where because I really don’t care. And I’ll tell you every single senior on this team feels the same way.”

In regards to playing the same opponent twice in one season, this football team is preparing the same way, going off what they put on tape. Just like any team, Bennett will look for the tendencies of  the Alabama defense, but he knows this will be the same team they faced one month ago, noting he doesn’t expect them to change much.

“So we’re going to prepare with what they’ve put on tape. And obviously other – we’re going to stick with their tendencies, just the same way I do every week, and be ready to adjust, say they come out in a completely different defense.

“But I would be willing to bet they’re not because they’re here in the national championship. They’re not going to change up and go all Arkansas on us,” Bennett added. “They’re not going to do that. They’re going to be Alabama. And we’re going to be Georgia. And we’re going to see who executes better. And if there is a wrinkle come Monday night from either side, then whoever adjusts best to that will win the football game.”

If you’re wondering why his teammates are so drawn to his personality and leadership, it centers around his self worth. He knows the only thing he can control is himself, not the folks making the noise. He’s continued to grow up in front of us, while also keeping a level head about himself and the game he plays, which has endeared him to so many. But for Bennett, he’s just being himself and playing football, something he’s done pretty well during his time at Georgia.

“I’ve always kind of felt like you can’t really – maybe some people can – tell people what to think about me or something. I just kind of am who I am. And I try to be the best person I can be, football and in life. And I don’t really know why people like me, but if that’s why it is, then so be it.”

He’s also not trying to become some ‘Savior’ for the Georgia football program, he’s got enough to worry about when preparing for this game. But when asked on Monday his thoughts on Bulldog fans having been through agonizing losses against Alabama and the history of these two teams in crucial games, Bennett said he was treating this like any other game he’s prepared for.

“Maybe I’m not capable of holding that weight on my shoulders, but, no, I’m just treating it as a football game. Do I know that means a lot to a lot of people? Yes. Am I trying to play some kind of savior by winning a national championship for millions of people? No. I don’t think that’s my job.

“My job is to go out there and throw completions to very talented people we have on this team,” Bennett added. “And I think it’s as simple as that.”

Stetson will once again lead his team into a championship game, this time hoping for a different outcome.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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