The Kirby Smart Year 5 Georgia football opener was another SEC foe
2020: Georgia beat Arkansas 37-10
No one even has to remind you about the craziness that was 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the entire world upside down, leaving Georgia football and other teams to adjust, and it was a miracle that college football even happened.
Initially, Georgia planned to take on Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta to start the season. However, the SEC decided to go with a 10-game conference-only schedule to reduce long-distance traveling for teams. Because of this, Mississippi State and Arkansas were added to Georgia’s schedule.
The Dawgs began the year with questions at the quarterback position, with Jake Fromm being taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. Georgia brought in Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, who looked like he would be the Week 1 starter, but he would end up opting out of the season just weeks before it even started. JT Daniels also transferred to Georgia from USC, but he was still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in 2019.
Ultimately, the team went with former four-star recruit D’Wan Mathis for the first few series of their opener against Arkansas. He made a handful of plays, but the offense could not get anything going to start the game. The defense kept the Dawgs in the game and even added points in the form of a safety.
Needing a spark, head coach Kirby Smart decided to put in Stetson Bennett, a former walk-on quarterback at Georgia, back in 2017. He transferred to Jones County Junior College in Mississippi in 2018 and made his way back to Athens in 2019.
“The Mailman” took control of the offense and led them to their first offensive scoring drive at the end of the first half, with Jack Podlesny hitting a 38-yard field goal as time expired. Georgia would head into the locker room down 7-5.
After a James Cook fumble on their first drive of the second half that led to a Razorback field goal, the Dawgs rallied off 29 straight points, which included a pick-six by cornerback Eric Stokes. The defense continued to dominate the Razorbacks, forcing three turnovers and collecting five tackles for loss.
Despite not being expected to start, Bennett finished 20-for-29 with 211 yards and two touchdowns.
Bennett would start the following week against Auburn and continued to start for most of the season. An injury against Florida and JT Daniels getting cleared to play would end his season as the starter, but the Mailman’s Georgia legacy was just beginning.