Tuesday, June 6

Stetson Bennett and Cade McNamara stay ahead of backup quarterback plan at CFP

Stetson Bennett of Georgia and Cade McNamara of Michigan have led their respective teams to 12-win seasons and playoff spots in college football. Both quarterbacks are one game away from playing for a national championship.

However, as any starting quarterback knows, there is still a lot of talk about his backups heading into Friday’s national semifinal at the Orange Bowl. Could Georgia’s JT Daniels and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy play a role in this showdown?

That, on some level, takes away what those quarterbacks accomplished. Bennett threw for 2,325 yards with 24 TDs and seven interceptions. McNamara threw for 2,470 yards with 15 TDs and four interceptions.

But you are only as good as your last start. Bennett finished 29 of 48 for 340 yards, three touchdowns and two interruptions in a 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, and that has increased the pressure on the senior quarterback. Bennett was asked about that pressure to lead a national championship available to the media on Tuesday.

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“It’s a bit frustrating at times I guess, but like I said, I don’t have social media so I don’t gloat over it,” Bennett said. “I don’t feel like that. I don’t think about it. All I’m thinking about is beating Michigan and being the best quarterback I can be for my teammates.”

Former Georgia quarterback Buck Belue, who led the Bulldogs’ last national championship in 1980, is now a radio analyst at Sports Radio 680 in Atlanta. He hears Bennett’s criticism and Daniels calls daily on his show.

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“Stetson better put the blinders on and focus on what he can handle,” Belue told SN. “He has no control over that 30% more or less that he was talking about, who don’t want him out of there. That’s not going to help him, think about it.”

Belue doesn’t think Daniels, a transfer from USC who started in Game 1 against Clemson, will see long against Michigan. Daniels returned Monday after approving the COVID-19 protocols, and Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken said endorsement, “you can come in and find out exactly what we want to do.”

Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has played the quarterback situation close to the vest, but Belue hopes to see Bennett.

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“Speaking for myself, I don’t expect to see JT Daniels,” Belue said. “It’s pretty obvious that they are moving forward with Stetson. I haven’t seen any practice since the Alabama game, but it’s pretty obvious Kirby will continue with Stetson.”

Michigan has found a way to make it work, at least for this season, with both quarterbacks. McNamara won the starting job, but McCarthy, a five-star recruit, made a big impression with his first TD pass in the first game against western Michigan. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said he can’t recall that level of hype surrounding a Wolverines quarterback since Chad Henne took over as a freshman in 2004.

“McCarthy was coming to the games in September, the student body and the fans were saying, ‘Oh, here’s our savior,'” Herbstreit said in a conference call Monday.

However, Herbstreit noticed something else in those moments. McNamara would not go to the bench alone. He would stay engaged on the sidelines and help McCarthy.

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“(McNamara) is there, and he’s the first man to cheer,” Herbstreit said. That tells me a lot about his wiring and how he’s handled it. ”

McNamara handled that by leading Michigan to its first Big Ten championship since 2004 and its first win against Ohio State since 2011. McCarthy will be involved in certain packages against Georgia, and his live arm and running ability are attributes that could enhance the competition. of QB in 2022..

However, Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has been pleased with the quarterbacks’ relationship today.

“I think it’s so important that I have to acknowledge that when you have two players like Cade and JJ, the selflessness of those two guys has allowed us to be where we are today,” Gattis said. “When you’re going through a situation where you’re playing multiple quarterbacks, that can make or break your team.”

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In this case, Georgia and Michigan seem willing to start and end with McNamara and Bennett. For McNamara, the team’s chemistry has made the difference, especially in Miami. The future can wait.

“I think now that we are approaching the last month of our season, we are trying to make the most of those moments because obviously this team will never be the same again after this,” McNamara said.

For Bennett, it’s not about those asking for the next promotion. It’s about concentrating on winning the next game.

“If you listen to them when they tell you how good they are, you will listen to them when they tell you how bad you are,” Bennett said. “I really don’t care what other people say.”

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