Stetson Bennett doesn’t fit into the typical mold of a Division I quarterback. Georgia lists him at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds. His arm strength doesn’t overwhelm defenders, and at times his accuracy can be sporadic.
But Bennett has quieted most of Georgia’s quarterback questions after three games. Head coach Kirby Smart is no longer receiving questions about who will be under center each Saturday. It is, for now, Bennett’s team, and if his play from this season should raise any questions moving forward, perhaps it should be this one: Would Georgia have been better off last season with Bennett instead of Jake Fromm?
If anything is clear about Bennett, it’s that he gets better in key situations or as the game progresses. Statistically speaking, his best down is third down. His best quarter is the fourth quarter. This is where Bennett is notably better than Fromm.
Compared to his production on first and second downs, Bennett’s play drastically heightens on third down. He has a passer rating of 191.9 on third down this season and has completed 18 of 25 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Georgia severely struggled on third down last season, converting just 41.2 % of the time, which was 51st in the country. Throughout Fromm’s three seasons in Athens, he finished with a third down passer rating of 139.89 in 2019, 147.24 in 2018 and 174.63 in 2017.
Third down was Fromm’s worst at Georgia in terms of completion percentage and his worst in terms of touchdown-to-interception ratio, with totals of 59.7% and 2.8. Fromm’s touchdown-to-interception ratio on first and second down? A much improved 6 and 6.33.
Quite the contrary for Bennett, who has a higher completion percentage on third down at 72% compared to first and second, where he sits at 62.5% and 55.6%. Whether it’s third-and-short or third-and-long doesn’t seem to matter with Bennett, either. When the Bulldogs are placed into a third-and-long situation — defined as having seven or more yards to go — Bennett is 11-for-14 for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
But wait, there’s more. Over the course of Fromm’s collegiate career, the fourth quarter was his worst regarding completion percentage and second-worst in passer rating. Bennett currently holds a fourth quarter completion percentage of 84.6% and a passer rating of 199.81. Both are bests for him.
There’s also Bennett’s natural ability to make plays happen when things go off-script, particularly on third down. During Georgia’s second offensive drive against Auburn, he found Kearis Jackson for 17 yards on third-and-10 and twice moved the chains on third down with his legs against Tennessee with gains of 10 and six yards. Georgia fans didn’t see much of this from Fromm.
So to question whether Bennett is a better quarterback than Fromm is one that’s warranted, at least at this point into the season. The notion that Bennett isn’t better solely because he didn’t start over Fromm last season doesn’t necessarily hold much merit. Should we refer to how well Justin Fields performed last season at Ohio State?
Through three games, Bennett’s play has answered one central quarterback question at Georgia. He currently has the fourth-highest odds to win the Heisman, per SportsLine. But if Georgia defeats No. 2 Alabama on Saturday inside Bryant-Denny Stadium, then maybe it’ll be time to discuss another question at Georgia — one Smart would surely want no part of.