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Georgia HC Kirby Smart Praises QB Stetson Bennett: 'People Keep Doubting Him'

Adam WellsJuly 20, 2022

Perry McIntyre/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is sticking up for his starting quarterback heading into the 2022 season.

Speaking to reporters during SEC media days on Wednesday, Smart called Stetson Bennett "one of the least respected good players in the country."

"The kid is a tremendous athlete," added Smart. "He's got good arm strength. People keep doubting him, and that's fine with me."

It's certainly easy to forget what Bennett did for the Bulldogs during their run to the national title last season because of how much talent the roster had.

Georgia had 15 players selected in the 2022 NFL draft, setting a new seven-round record that dates back to 1994. That includes a record five defensive players being taken in the first round.

The 2021 Bulldogs were one of the best defensive teams in college football history. They led the nation with 10.2 points allowed per game and 4.16 yards allowed per play.

Per Josh Planos of FiveThirtyEight.com, Georgia also topped the nation in red zone efficiency (28.1 percent), goal-to-go efficiency (30.8 percent) and tackle percentage (88.7).

This was the second time in three years that Georgia had the best defense by points allowed per game. The 2019 squad ranked first in FBS with 12.6 points allowed per contest, but missed out on the College Football Playoff after losing to LSU in the SEC Championship Game.

The difference between the two teams was offensive efficiency. The 2019 team ranked 21st nationally in Football Outsiders' FEI metric that measures the points per possession scoring advantage a team would be expected to have on a neutral field against an average opponent.

The 2021 Bulldogs finished third in FEI, behind only Ohio State and Alabama.

Bennett, who was a walk-on at Georgia in 2017 and played behind Jake Fromm in 2019, made significant strides as a passer last season. The 24-year-old threw for 2,862 yards, 29 touchdowns and completed 64.5 percent of his attempts.

It's been easy to overlook Bennett because he played on one of the most loaded rosters in college football history last season. He's also not the best quarterback in the SEC—Alabama's Bryce Young won the 2021 Heisman Trophy.

Young got the best of Bennett in their first head-to-head meeting last season. The Crimson Tide star threw for 421 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-24 win in the SEC Championship Game.

However, Bennett got the last laugh in Georgia's 33-18 victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship. He finished 17-of-26 for 224 yards and two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.

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