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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Joe Vitale

Stetson Bennett on performance vs. Oregon: ‘Probably the best one I’ve played’

No. 3 Georgia delivered an absolute beatdown over the No. 11 ranked Oregon Ducks on Saturday in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Dawgs made Dan Lanning’s first game as head coach of the Ducks one to forget, beating their former defensive coordinator 49-3.

Stetson Bennett had an outstanding game, going 25/31 for 368 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing. And he did so in only two-and-a-half quarters of play before Carson Beck for mop-up duty.

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A lot was said about Bennett this offseason, but the national championship-winning quarterback silenced the critics with an impressive performance in the season-opener.

Here’s everything the sixth year passer said after the game:

Q. Stetson, obviously that was a record-setting effort, performance by you tonight. Did you feel like that was in you guys all along, and can you talk about -- you didn't give up a 3rd down conversion, didn't miss one for the whole game.

STETSON BENNETT: You know, that’s what I’m most proud of is the 3rd downs. I mean, that’s what we were harping on, 3rd down and red zone, this whole off-season, and we executed.

I mean, yeah. When you’ve got guys like him and you’ve got an O-line and have four seconds to throw the ball, you would hope that you have a quarterback that can throw the ball to guys. Yeah, I think we did. We have confidence in ourselves and the preparation that we put into it to go out there and execute like that.

Q. Stetson, with Dan, obviously you've been practicing against him for the last three, four years. How much of a level of comfort was there kind of knowing who they were personnel-wise and what they were going to do schematically?

STETSON BENNETT: Yeah, you know, they did — we might play the same team four years in a row, so it’s kind of similar. I guess when you practice against it, it helps a little more. But they had some stuff that we hadn’t seen. Good coaches always do.

But we played on our rules and we executed.

I don’t know if it was because he was there or whatever, but regardless, every player on offense, we’ll have to go back and watch film and get better in areas, obviously, but for the most part we executed.

Q. Stetson, just from a start-to-finish standpoint, where does that game rank for you personally as far as games that you've quarterbacked? Is that maybe the best one?

STETSON BENNETT: Yeah, probably. Yeah, probably the best one I’ve played, yeah.

Q. Why is that?

STETSON BENNETT: I’d say probably the off-season, all the work, putting it in with these guys, year three in the offense. Again, having time and having the playmakers outside. So I think a combination of a lot of things.

Q. Stetson, can you speak to your comfort level with Coach Monken at this point, and talk to the game plan he had today and how he called it today.

STETSON BENNETT: Yeah, I thought he was aggressive. I thought we went quick. I think I probably need to get in a little better shape for sure, but yeah, I thought it was really well-executed. Again, I think we were prepared and we were ready to go out there and execute.

Q. Stetson, could you walk me through what was going through your mind on your touchdown pass to Ladd right before halftime?

STETSON BENNETT: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t smart. I need to not do that, 1st and goal from the 1. But I knew that we had motioned Ladd over there, and obviously we had never hit him, but I knew — I started scrambling and I was trying to find him because I knew he was over there somewhere, and then found him and threw it.

But it probably wasn’t smart. I needed to either ground it at him or run it or throw it to Brock or something front side. Especially 1st down and 1, don’t do that. But it did work out.

Q. Stetson, the number of times the ball was in the air today, how much of that is an indication of that's what we're going to see this year out of Georgia's offense? How much of it was just this particular play the defense was giving you, and it just happened that way?

STETSON BENNETT: Yeah, I think football is such a flow game. I mean, what’s working — you know, whenever I make a play in practice and Coach Monk is holding it and I should have done something, he always says, but I have the remote now. I can see it. Hindsight is always 20/20. It goes back and forth.

It worked today, but who’s to say that we don’t run it 40 times next week, and that’s what the connection, the unselfishness for each and every position player on the team and O-line, like whatever is working, it’s about the team. It doesn’t matter if we throw it 30 whatever times we threw it today or we run it 40 times. Whatever is working, however we’re going to win that day is how we’re going to win.

Stetson, you said that you've never had a game like today. Kenny, you said the same thing. How much do you feel like this offense is not only taking a step forward today - it's a small sample size - but just in general do you guys feel like you're headed in a really positive direction?

Yeah, I mean, I think the first year that Monk was here was COVID, and that was weird for everybody, right. We couldn’t be there in the summer to kind of get — we were doing Zoom meetings and it’s hard to — you can’t walk through and do all that stuff.

So it’s year three now, but kind of it’s year two maybe, and we didn’t lose that many guys. We lost several key guys but not the core of the offense. And the guys, like Kenny said, who did leave, they left great examples.

Hey, I waited, right? I came, I performed whenever it was my turn, and now like hey, you sit behind me for a year and then next year it’s going to be your turn. That’s kind of the program that Coach Smart is building. It’s about the program. I think we understand that.

Whenever you know that your brother next to you is thinking the same way you do, then you trust him, and you worry about your job and you execute your job and they execute their job, and it just is a domino effect.

Q. Stetson, how important is it for the offense, especially early in the season, sometimes it takes the offense a little bit of time to get going, to come out and have a game like it had today?

STETSON BENNETT: You know, I think it’s more important to come out and play the next one. You know, we had a good one. But it’s over now. This game is over, and we’ve got next week’s opponent.

But I think our guys are really mature, and I think that we attack it like it is a business, like it is our job, because it is. When you do it that way and you go out and you know the little tiny things that you need to know to make a good offense a good offense, then you can be a good offense.

Q. Stetson, how did it feel to just start your season opener for the first time for the Bulldogs when you're national champion and it took you this long to do it, and also, how are you so good at blocking out this noise besides the phone? Did it help knowing you were going to be the starting quarterback the whole entire season to have the confidence coming in this year?

STETSON BENNETT: It’s always good to go in to be “the guy.” The reps, like I’ve said, throwing with the guys in the off-season, working on choice routes, me and Kenny, I think just the little things that show up when you don’t know when they’re going to show up, but that’s why you work them. So yeah, it was pretty cool.

But on to the next now, I guess.

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