Previewing Stetson Bennett vs Bryce Young

There are only two more days left until the most important game of college football season is played as the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to face each other once more in the national title game on Monday night.

The last time these two met was in the title game when Georgia shockingly suffered its worst loss of the season, leaving many to wonder just how strong the Bulldogs actually were and if they had the ability to make the right adjustments to beat the most dominant team in the sport at this level over recent history.

Georgia has another chance to redeem itself on the big stage, and the Bulldogs are coming off an impressive 34-11 Orange Bowl victory over the Michigan Wolverines that gives them plenty of good momentum to build upon.

Bryce Young vs Stetson Bennett

Zeroing in solely on the quarterback position on this one, this a contest between the Heisman Trophy winner and a signal-caller that essentially took the job from a projected Heisman Trophy candidate and has held onto it after JT Daniels struggled with injury and then was never fully cemented as the starter as the season progressed and it became Bennett’s show at the position. This move by head coach Kirby Smart has been not without some controversy, as Bennett has had some solid showings but has also had some that have left fans calling loudly for Daniels. One of those was a putrid 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship, when Bennett posted a largely good stat line but his team overall in a bad position with costly misfires in important moments, completing 29-of-48 passes for 340 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. But then there was the Orange Bowl, where Bennett silenced his doubters.

Bennett has been largely commended by Kirby Smart and others for his ability to work the pocket, evade pressure and use his mobility to make plays with his legs. That’s been on display multiple times this past season, but what’s been desired is wanting to see standout showings from him as a pure passer against good competition. Bennett looked accurate at all levels of the field, placed the ball well, had good timing on his throws and stood tall in the pocket – basically everything you want from a passer – as he completed 21-of-31 passes for 310 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It’s important he repeats that type of play against Alabama.

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On the other sideline, Young has been among the most consistent players in college football and has been Alabama’s rock offensively. There’s some room for growth in terms of development into an NFL prospect, but that’s to be expected with a quarterback who is just a sophomore – something that is easy to forget looking at Young and where he stands now in comparison to the rest of college football’s quarterbacks. At 6-foot and 194 pound, prototypical size isn’t something that he holds to his advantage, but there are a host of more important traits he brings to the table. Young is an accurate passer who rarely puts the ball in a bad spot or costs his team, with a completion percentage this season that exceeds 67% and just five interceptions on 490 passing attempts. His mobility and scrambling ability is also something he uses to his advantage that allows Alabama to keep plays alive and do more offensively – he’s no Lamar Jackson, but he can move when he needs to.

What Each Quarterback Must Do to Win

It’s a bit of a different scenario here with these two. Many of Georgia’s wins throughout the 2021 season can be credited more to a stellar defense than anything else, and while Bennett has had some bright moments, he’s not seen as a top quarterback and doesn’t always make all the difference for this team. He’s had some moments of inaccuracy, bad decision-making and costly interceptions to go with the highs he’s had in performances like his most recent ones. Bennett is on the up so long as he builds off of what he did in the Orange Bowl, but this is going to be a bit of a prove-it game to show he can consistently play at a high level in his own right against the toughest competition currently existent in college football. In order to win this game, Bennett is going to have to consistently push the ball downfield and get the Georgia offense going early up against a team that has shown that when its offensive line and supporting cast get going, it can roll quite well on that side of the ball. Bennett is also going to have avoid putting the ball in harm’s way or risky situations to avoid the bad turnovers he had in the SEC Championship that put his team in a disadvantageous situation and ultimately played a large role in a rough loss.

Young has been one of the bright spots and clear difference-maker in all of Alabama’s games this season as the team has been shakier in multiple aspects than we have seen in in years past. Though he has struggled at times when moved off his spot, Young, like all other quarterbacks still gaining experience, has improved under pressure and has done what was needed to lead his team to victory in games where a lot else was going wrong like the overtime victory against Auburn. Young will be eager to make a statement against a Georgia defense that is equally hungry and looking to do the same after he recorded statistically one of the worst games of his young career against Cincinnati on a day when the running game was king, completing 17-of-28 passes for 181 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. There have been plenty of days where Young has all but carried the Alabama offense, and can be a primary factor in winning this game for them again as long as he doesn’t let the Bulldogs defense, which is sure to bring the heat, get to him force him into ill-advised decisions.


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