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Stetson Bennett Writing His Own Script

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Stetson Bennett hasn't just made the most of his opportunity to lead the Bulldogs, he has made history.

Ahead of the SEC Championship Game and upcoming College Football Playoff, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett recently said that he will let the storytelling and narrative write itself. Already, it's a feature for the ages.

Bennett hasn't just made the most of his opportunity to lead the Bulldogs, he has made history.

Georgia enters Saturday undefeated at 12-0, slotted number one in the country and now favored to beat Alabama in Atlanta. The Bulldogs, fresh off their first-ever 8-0 season in SEC play, have won eleven consecutive contests by at least 17 points and, in addition to having a generational defense, ranked third nationally in the month of November in averaging 46.3 points per game. Down the home stretch of the season, Georgia has had one of college football's best offenses, too. 

What Bennett has done is challenge the standards of prototype and production alike.

The 5'11'', 190-pound signal caller is on a run for the record books. Bennett ranks second in college football, leading the Power Five, with a passer rating of 188.55. The only quarterbacks who have finished a full season with a higher total are: Joe Burrow, Robert Griffin III, Jalen Hurts, Mac Jones, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Tua Tagovailoa, Russell Wilson and Zach Wilson; of those nine players, four of them won the Heisman, three more were finalists, another has won a Super Bowl and one was just the second overall pick in the NFL Draft. 

Furthermore, Bennett is averaging a college football-best 10.07 yards per play, which is over a half-yard more than anyone else. The highest all-time average for a season, minimum 3,000 total yards, is Murray at 10.37 in 2018. Bennett is at 2,225 total yards with at least two games remaining. If Georgia makes the College Football Playoff Final, he would need to average 258.3 total yards per game to meet that threshold, plus an uptick in downfield conversions. That said, Bennett is remarkably at least in the mix for that incredible all-time margin.  

Historic success is nothing new for Bennett. He starred as one of the state of Georgia's most prolific passers ever at Pierce County High School in Blackshear, Georgia. He finished his famed career with 9,091 passing yards and 95 passing touchdowns, good for 10th and eleventh in the state all-time. Bennett was a star before he ever stepped foot in Athens. What he is doing at the next level is more of a continuation than an introduction.     

While becoming one of the stories of the year in college football, Bennett, steady and consistent, has simply continue to be himself.

"The unique thing is I had a good opportunity to talk to Stetson throughout the year and he's probably the most calm and even-keeled guy that you will ever meet," explained Georgia legend D.J. Shockley, a former All-SEC quarterback for the Bulldogs and the 2005 SEC Championship Game MVP, now part of the UGA Radio Network.

Remarkably, Bennett has stepped into the spotlight in stride. In addition to his performances from last season, which included starts against Auburn and at Alabama, Bennett, among other contests, has helmed the Bulldogs to wins over nationally-ranked Arkansas and Kentucky and the Tigers once again, all top 20 teams at the time. He did not have a single interception in any of those three high-profile games.

Whether protecting the football as Georgia's defense controls the game, converting downfield as a compliment to a downhill running game or pressuring defenses with big plays, Bennett has fit in quite well as Georgia, perfect so far, has found offensive balance. The results are clear to see. Bennett has been a tone-setter for the best team in college football.   

Most recently, Bennett completed 14-of-20 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns, again with no turnovers, in leading Georgia to a 45-0 win at rival Georgia Tech. In terms of overall proficiency, it was his second-best effort of the year, trailing only his record-setting work against UAB, where Bennett completed 8-of-9 passes for 269 yards and five touchdowns -- all in the first half. 

As Bennett steps onto the big stage of the SEC Championship Game, he does so with familiar footing. Bennett's focus remains unwavering. His direction remains forward.

"He's a guy that stays the course, he knows where his role is on the team and what he's done," Shockley added. "I thought he's grown as a quarterback this season and as a leader."

Saturday's matchup, taking on Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, is about as big as it gets in college football. For the ever-consistent Bennett, with ten total touchdowns and one just one interception over his last four outings, this game is just the next one. And, this season, he hasn't lost yet. Entering the weekend, Bennett actually has a higher passer rating than Bryce Young, who is arguably the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. This is a national showcase Bennett has more than earned.

Georgia is making the short trip to Atlanta. Bennett, staying true to himself and his game, has helped lead them a long way. 

"My advice to him has been the same all year: keep being who you are, man. Don't try to be J.T., don't try to be Bryce Young, don't try to be anybody else around the country," Shockley concluded. "You have to be Stetson Bennett and that's been good enough because look where you stand at number one right now and leading this team to big heights." 

The wins and the stats are already there for Bennett. A storied legacy is, too.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports