Stetson

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) during the Bulldogs' game with Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Photo by Skylar Lien)

Stetson Bennett had not yet thrown an interception this season until he threw three in Georgia’s first loss of the season against No. 2 Alabama.

The last interception Georgia threw came from its redshirt freshman, D’Wan Mathis, right before he was subbed out for Bennett in Georgia’s season opener against Arkansas.

The game truly began to unravel when Bennett dealt his second and third interceptions, beginning at the end of the third quarter. Both picks led to Alabama drives that resulted in touchdowns.

“Just did not play well enough,” Bennett said. “Got to figure out how not to get batted balls, got to figure out how to not throw interceptions, got to figure out how to score points in the second half.”

Bennett had difficulties all night with tipped passes and constant pressure. The junior’s height — listed at 5-foot-11 — has been a question mark, although Bennett had not yet suffered from the amount of tipped passes he did against Alabama.

The Crimson Tide defensive line consistently got its hands on passes, forcing Bennett’s first tipped-pass interception in Georgia’s opening drive. Another tipped ball intended for freshman receiver Jermaine Burton fell into the hands of Malachi Moore for Bennett’s second interception at the end of the third quarter.

“It is always a concern when it happens,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “It has not been as relevant, it has not happened as much. I think Alabama has really big defensive linemen which typically try to push and cave in the pocket.”

Georgia rarely turned the ball over in its first three games, and made a point to capitalize on turnovers by its opposition. Once the Bulldogs started turning Tennessee over a week ago, they blew the game open with a steady balance of running the football and scoring points.

The Bulldogs played from behind for most of the third quarter, and were forced to pass the ball more frequently. Two of Bennett’s three interceptions came in the second half, where he felt he needed to press the ball down the field.

“First one was a batted ball,” Bennett said. “Second was tipped up. Third one, I was trying to do too much. I was just trying to do too much and threw it across my body. It was not smart and I threw it right to a guy.”

Turnovers proved to be key in this game, with the lack thereof for Alabama reigning supreme. The only turnover Alabama surrendered was a first play interception by quarterback Mac Jones, who played efficient, mistake-free football for the rest of the game.

Bennett finished the game 18 of 40 passing for 269 yards, two touchdowns and the three costly picks. Jones went 24 of 32 for 417 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

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