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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Bennett is a full-fledged hero in Georgia

by Wally Hall | January 12, 2022 at 3:10 a.m.

After Stetson Bennett fumbled in the third quarter, it was almost odd not to hear chants "JT JT JT' coming from the Georgia side of the field.

To that point, Bennett was having a pedestrian performance in a pedestrian game. It was much like his career at Georgia, and in the end, he managed to pull it out and make his mark in Georgia football history.

He was the type quarterback Alabama used to favor, one who manages the game and hands off to running backs and throws under the coverage. Basically not doing anything to hurt the team.

Until the fourth quarter, the game was boring.

It was all defense and too little offense.

Nick Saban was so frustrated he was caught on the sidelines by a camera dropping some serious verbal bombs.

He was gracious in the loss, but by today, he's again the highest paid coach in college football who has won more national championships than anyone.

Being in the national championship six of seven years is unfathomable and he's the guy who is 25-2 against former assistants, although both losses were this season.

Bennett is a story in himself; a former walk-on who went to a junior college and then came back to Georgia where his dad had been a star quarterback.

JT Daniels was the starter this season until he was injured. Bennett took over and head coach Kirby Smart stuck with the undersized, but gutsy, Bennett, who after the fumble overcame his deficiencies and was named the offensive MVP in the 33-18 win over nemesis Alabama and claimed the national championship.

Understand Bennett never rolled left, only right, and when he threw on the run, he was usually way off.

Alabama, though, underestimated the Georgia receivers who made acrobatic and incredible catches.

After Kelee Ringo intercepted Bryce Young and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown to ensure the win, Bennett broke down on the sidelines and bawled crocodile tears.

Numerous teammates came up to slap him on the shoulder.

One of the first things Bennett did when a camera and microphone were stuck in his face was say he knew he was the right quarterback.

Not exactly humble, but there he was later seeing with a big cigar in his mouth. During a news conference he said he would be playing football somewhere this year.

The hint was that he's considering continuing his dream in the NFL.

That will be up to the NFL.

The win by Georgia was mostly up to its defense, which seemed to get better the longer the game went, the offensive line who blocked much better down the stretch, those receivers, some hard-nosed running backs and a quarterback who overcame mistakes.

What Bennett lacked in ability he made up for in confidence.

Most of the nation, at least those in attendance and those who stayed tuned despite the lack of entertainment, were glad Georgia won.

Fans from coast to coast have come to dislike the SEC and its football success, but they are sick of Alabama, its arrogance and Saban.

This game did not come down to coaching. That ended up being a non-factor, although it did appear early that Smart was in awe of his former boss again.

The game came down to execution and luck, and late Monday night it was the Georgia Bulldogs who had both.

Alabama and Georgia are loaded with five-star recruits, and thus they are the SEC's Beast of the East and the Best of the West.

For now, the Bulldogs, are the national champions and the SEC champion is the runner-up, and Stetson Bennett is a hero in Athens, Ga.

Print Headline: Bennett is a full-fledged hero in Georgia


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