Sports

What just happened: Stetson Bennett shines in win over Auburn


He did it again.

Pressed into a starting role once again, quarterback Stetson Bennett delivered a victory for Georgia—this time in a 34-10 victory over Auburn. This particular win marked the first time since Week 1’s victory over Clemson that the Bulldogs were unable to pull away from an opponent early .

Against UAB, any of Georgia’s quarterbacks could have started.

Against Arkansas, the rushing attack made things easy, with Bennett managing the game flow with ease.

In Saturday’s win over Auburn, Bennett was asked to do a lot in a hostile environment with the stakes high. And Bennett rose to the occasion, completing 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He added 41 rushing yards on six carries, including a 30-yard scamper late in the third quarter.

Over the past two seasons, Bennett is 2-0 against Auburn as a starter.

Bennett started his third game of the season as JT Daniels continues to recover from a lat injury. Daniels was able to go through pre-game warmups but was working with the third team. Carson Beck served as Bennett’s backup.

Time will tell this week if Daniels can give it a go against Kentucky. If not, Georgia should be in good hands once again, with Bennett at quarterback.

Stetson Bennett runs with the ball against Auburn. (Blayne Gilmer/UGASports.com)

Stetson Bennett runs with the ball against Auburn. (Blayne Gilmer/UGASports.com)

What it means

This proved to be Georgia’s toughest game since the season-opening 10-3 win over Clemson. Even so, the Bulldogs put the game away in the fourth quarter with plenty of time to spare.

Whereas Georgia’s offense couldn’t be stopped against Arkansas, Auburn’s defense did a good job of keeping the game from getting out of hand in the first half. That sort of test should go a long way when it comes to the next two games against Kentucky and Florida.

Most importantly, it showed once again that the Bulldogs can play winning football against good teams with Bennett at quarterback.

This win also gives Georgia additional bragging rights in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The Bulldogs have now won the past five meetings.

Three important plays 

Fumbled snap: Auburn marched down the field on its opening drive, possibly creating a little bit of early worry among the UGA faithful. But on second-and-goal from the 9-yard line, quarterback Bo Nix was unable to handle a shotgun snap and had to pick it up off of the turf. Facing pressure immediately afterwards, Nix flicked his wrist to let go of the ball in what was initially ruled a fumble and a Georgia recovery.

A review determined it was an incomplete pass and intentional grounding. That moved the Tigers back to the 15-yard line, with the Tigers ultimately being forced to settle for a field goal.

With the way the first half played out, Auburn would have benefited tremendously with seven instead of three on this drive.

Fourth-down pass breakup: Seen as a mistake in the moment, this play turned out to be beneficial over the long haul. With Auburn facing a fourth-and-goal at the 7-yard line in the second quarter, the Tigers’ field goal unit took the field. The Bulldogs, however, committed an offside penalty, with Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin electing to go for it instead.

On that play, Nix targeted receiver Ze’Vian Capers in the end zone, with defensive back Latavious Brini in coverage. Brini knocked the ball away, allowing the Bulldogs to kneel the ball out to end the half.

Another fourth-down stop: Midway through the third quarter, Auburn rolled the dice again on fourth-and-8 from the Georgia 40-yard line. Nix’s pass was too high for receiver Demetris Robertson, who was unable to bring the ball in. The Bulldogs were in good coverage to help force the turnover on downs. Georgia’s next play was Bennett’s deep shot to receiver Ladd McConkey for a 60-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up three scores.

Grading Georgia

Offense: A-

Credit Auburn’s defense for making it a little more difficult for Georgia’s offense than recent teams have. Still, Georgia was in command on the offensive side of the ball for most of the contest. Bennett’s second touchdown of the game, the 60-yarder to McConkey, was a thing of beauty that provided Georgia enough cushion to dispel any upset hopes from Auburn. McConkey totaled five catches for 135 yards and a score. The rushing attack picked up in the second half, which allowed the Bulldogs to work some clock and ice the game late.

Defense: A

The standard has climbed quite high when it can feel almost disappointing that the Bulldogs allowed a touchdown. Tank Bigsby’s touchdown run in the third quarter was the first time the Bulldogs allowed one since the fourth quarter of the South Carolina game. Even so, Georgia’s defense forced two fourth-down stops and held Auburn to a field goal after it got inside the 10-yard line on the opening possession. The Bulldogs held the Tigers to only 46 rushing yards.

Special teams: B+

The lone major blemish of the day was a missed 43-yard field goal attempt from place-kicker Jack Podlesny. Otherwise, the Bulldogs had a mostly fine day in all other aspects of special teams. Jake Camarda averaged 45.7 yards per punt with a long of 51. Kearis Jackson had a 32-yard kickoff return. On Auburn’s early short field goal, a Georgia special teamer got a piece of it, although it wasn’t enough to alter the trajectory of the kick.

Coaching: A

Facing its second top-20 opponent in as many weeks, the Bulldogs executed the game-plan and were in control of the game throughout. Credit the coaching staff for having this team ready to take on a ranked rival on the road.

Season grades to date

Offense: B+

Defense: A

Special teams: A-

Coaching: A



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