Georgia’s Stetson Bennett takes the chance to play a “hero” in the CFP championship

INDIANAPOLIS – Georgia defender Stetson Bennett is aware of the thin line between criticism and praise. It’s all part of the job.

Bennett received this criticism after losing 41-24 to Alabama in a SEC championship match. He heard the praise after leading Georgia to a 34:11 victory against Michigan in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff at the Orange Bowl on December 31st. There is frustration that rises from things that Bennett cannot – or simply will not – say.

“You’re a hero or zero,” Bennett told reporters in the CFP media on Saturday. “I’m glad it was me and not anyone else, because I can handle it, because I can just turn it off and tell people to go blah, blah.”

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Fill in the blanks with what could mean “blah, blah” before Monday’s College Football Playoff game against No. 1 Alabama at Lucas Oil Stadium. Bennett could either be the quarterback leading Georgia No. 3 to the first national championship since 1980. Or he could be at the end of the third start in two seasons against Crimson Tide.

“Hero or zero,” really. Georgia’s last quarterback to lead the national championship was Buck Belue, who is now a radio analyst at Sports Radio 680 in Atlanta. Belue interviewed Bennett before the Orange Bowl game against Michigan and gained interesting knowledge about the Bulldogs starter.

“I think he realizes that there is a story that people want to see (back-up defender) JT Daniels,” Belue told Sporting News. “As best I can tell, he’s resilient, tenacious and determined. Stetson is like that. In the end, it will help him in this challenge.”

Bennett erased certain doubts by 313 yards and three touchdowns against the Wolverines, and his teammates continued to rally around their quarterback. Tackle Jamaryee Salyer, an Atlanta native, said Bennett’s leadership stemmed from this inexcusable personality near home.

“From the countryside, a child from South Georgia,” Bennett said. “He’ll be the only kid to come to the locker room and start playing country music. It’s just Stetson. He doesn’t want to be a person he’s not. He’ll never be. I think the truth in who he is and what he represents is people to him. attracts. “

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“He left the Rose Bowl QB scout team, which is coming and just working,” added All-American defensive tackle Jordan Davis. “It’s extremely hard work.”

Bennett, a two-star high school quarterback, has come a long way. He was the quarterback of the scout team when Georgia reached the CFP championship match in 2018, also against Alabama. Before returning to Georgia, he transferred to Jones College in Ellisville, Mississippi. In the last two seasons, he has played the role of starter and midfielder – an atypical journey for a quarterback playing on the biggest stage.

Bennett chooses words carefully when talking about these roles in the program. He said “advance” was not the right word to describe his experience as a scout defender. He is also “happy and immensely blessed” to be a starter now. At this point, there were marquis matches against Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Michigan. He also pointed to his late grandfather, Buddy Bennett, who left Stetson University for South Carolina, as a real example of a long journey.

“He was hitchhiking to South Carolina,” Bennett said. “He was the ACC’s main rush. Like I said, people make a fuss out of my way. I didn’t go anywhere. That’s exactly what you want to do when you want to play football.”

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Of course, the focus has been on two starts against Alabama in two 41-24 losses in the last two seasons. Bennett was 18 out of 40 by 269 yards in 2020 and had two touchdowns and three interceptions. In the SEC championship, he finished 29 of 48 to 340 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The inbox with information about what to do this time is also full.

What is the approach now?

“I guess you want to get smart?” Bennett said Monday. “Are you going to think about it too much? No. It’s not. Of course, when we go out on the field, I’d rather send us an e-mail from Alabama this week if they’re going to change anything? That, but I guess they won’t.”

There is a touch of country humor in borrowing sentences that Alabama coach Nick Saban has used in the past. Bennett, for all his stories, looks ready and ready for the moment, a parenting product from his parents, Stetson and Denis. The Georgia Quarterback appreciates the travel his parents made to make this opportunity possible, and this helps him to cross the line between criticism and praise.

“I don’t want to sound cliché and cheesy, but it’s true, it inspires me,” Bennett said. “If they can do it all and succeed, what is little football?”

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