A lot has changed for Georgia’s offense since the last time the Bulldogs squared off with the Crimson Tide in October of 2020. At the time Stetson Bennett seemed like a bandage on a struggling quarterback situation.
Now, he has proved to be one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the country as he prepares for his 10th start of the season ahead of the SEC Championship. For Bennett, he realizes how far he has come since then and what he will need to do for his offense to be successful on Saturday.
“Better mechanics, better understanding of the game, another year in the offense under [Todd Monken], more trust in everybody who is out there,” said Bennett on Monday about his improvements. “All the things that time brings.”
Trust has been on display from Bennett who found nine different receivers in his first nine pass attempts in Georgia’s 45-0 win over Georgia Tech. The chemistry between Bennett and his receivers continues to grow week-by-week as well, with more healthy receivers like George Pickens coming into the fold.
“Just the way he approaches the game, from film study to staying after practice and us running extra routes for him,” said receiver Ladd McConkey on the growing confidence for his quarterback. “It’s really the way he approaches everything. He comes in with a pro mindset, wanting to be the best that he can be. That’s the big thing, he doesn’t want to let anybody down.”
That type of balance is exactly what Georgia will need when facing an Alabama defense that has a lot of playmakers, especially on the front seven. The Crimson Tide secondary has been shaky at times this year. Alabama is ranked 42nd nationally in passing yards allowed, giving up 213 yards per game in the air.
And while the Tide still rank in the top half of the country in that category, it will face a Georgia offense that averages 240 passing yards per game, with 30 touchdowns as a part of the Bulldogs’ balanced attack.
A key for Georgia’s offensive line will be to keep Alabama’s potent pass rushers away from Stetson Bennett. Heading into Saturday’s game Georgia is the second-best team in the country at not allowing sacks with only eight given up this season.
“Basically, just keying in on some moves that a couple of guys work a lot on,” said center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger on the team’s mentality in practice this week. “A lot of guys work on hard moves, just different things like that. So just trying to make sure you keep your head out – play with your head move your feet, things like that.”
Also, Bennett has learned from his three-interception game against Alabama last season, including not to force things that are not there if pressure is in his face.
“Knowing that incompletions don’t kill you,” said Bennett. “You don’t have to win the game on every play, because you can’t win it on every play. Our defense and the players we have, focusing on them and the strengths of the team, not trying to do it all yourself.”
In a matchup where Georgia’s defense could give up more points than they have all season, it might be the offense’s turn to be the deciding factor in a win or loss for the Bulldogs in their biggest game.