Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
SB Nation's Georgia blog, Dawg Sports breaks down the season-ending injury to wide receiver Michael Bennett.
The Georgia Bulldogs had terrible news when their starting wide receiver Michael Bennett went down with an ACL injury, and is lost for the year. Bennett was the team's leading receiver in all major categories with 24 receptions, 345 total yards, four touchdowns and 69 yards per game.
While losing a star wide receiver like Bennett is huge, it is not the end of the world for Georgia this season. SB Nation's Georgia blog Dawg Sports discusses how the offense may not take as big a dip in production with Bennett lost for the year:
The good thing that the Dawgs have going for them this year is balance. Balance not only in the way that we are equally balanced with the pass and the run, but also that we're fairly balanced in our distribution of receptions among our receivers. Tavarres King and Marlon Brown - the Dawgs' second and third leading receivers, respectively - are each within ten receptions of Bennett's highwater mark of 24 catches with sixteen apiece.
At 307 receiving yards on the year, King is within forty yards of Bennett's team-leading mark, and Brown, with 264 yards, isn't too much farther behind. Once again, both King and Brown are equal in another stat line - both have 3 TD receptions on the year - trailing Bennett by just one touchdown catch. In yards per game, you'll find parity yet again, as Bennett is averaging just 7.6 ypg more than King (61.4 ypg) and only three ypg more than Brown (66 ypg).
Finally, both King and Brown are actually averaging more yards per catch than Bennett, with King at 19.19, Brown at 16.50, and Bennett at 14.38.
Georgia has the depth at the receiver position to have either King or Brown step up and fill the void that Bennett left. However, the timing could not be any worse, as Georgia has their biggest game to date when they go on the road to face the No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks.
Bennett was a key contributor on third down plays, and became a security blanket for quarterback Aaron Murray. Here is some more detailed info form Dawg Sports about how much Bennett meant to the team on third downs:
Bennett has eight receptions for 107 yds., one touchdown and six (SIX!) first downs. By comparison, Brown has three receptions for 68 yds., one touchdown and two first downs, and Tavarres King has just one catch on a third down this year, for seven yards and a TD. To say that those numbers are alarming is putting it lightly. Bennett has been Murray's go-to guy when Murray has needed someone to keep the chains moving, and who will step into that now-vacated role is quite the conundrum.
Dawg Sports does present a positive note on this injury: the receiving corps is deep with six different receivers catching six passes or more on the year, not including running backs. As for who will benefit the most from Bennett's absence, the predictions are that it will be Malcolm Mitchell who will see time when Georgia goes to three wide receiver sets, and then Rantavious Wooten will get on the field when the play calls for four wide receivers.
Losing Bennett is a big deal for Georgia, but the team remains optimistic, as they have solid depth in their receiving lineup to possibly make up for the contributions that Bennett brought to the game.