Quick Bit: Max Duggan has the edge on throwing the deep ball, but Stetson Bennett has played his best when the lights are brightest.
Experience will not be an issue for Georgia’s Stetson Bennett or TCU’s Max Duggan in the College Football Playoff championship game Monday.
Bennett – a two-year starter – originally walked on at Georgia in 2017. Duggan – a four-year starter – has been with the Horned Frogs since 2019. Both were Heisman Trophy finalists this season, and that experience should pay off at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on Monday.
Bennett has a chance to lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships with coach Kirby Smart. He’s 28-3 as a starter since his first start in 2020, and Georgia has a chance to complete a perfect season.
Duggan is 24-17 in 41 career starts for the Horned Frogs, and his career took off with first-year coach Sonny Dykes. Duggan can lead TCU to the program’s first national championship since 1938.
It’s a fantastic quarterback matchup. Let’s break it down ahead of Monday’s game.
Stetson Bennett vs. Max Duggan
There are some surprising trends here when you look at the overall statistics. Duggan totaled 4,007 yards of total offense; an average of 286.2 yards per game. Bennett totaled 3,989 yards this season – an average of 284.9 yards per game.
That is not surprising, but the number is close.
What is surprising? Bennett had more passing attempts despite the perception around Duggan playing in the Big 12. Bennett also had the same amount of rushing TDs in almost half as many rushing attempts. Duggan has a tremendous edge in rushing yards, but that does not take away from Bennett’s ability to get out of trouble.
Still, Duggan ranked 10th in the FBS in efficiency rating at 162.3. Bennett ranked 18th at 157.3. This was an expected edge for the TCU quarterback, but it’s not a wide margin.
The long-ball is a huge part of TCU’s offense. According to Pro Football Focus, Duggan led the FBS with 18 TDs on passes of 20 yards or more. That helped TCU become one of the best scoring teams in the FBS this season.
Here is a look at both quarterbacks on passes of 20 yards or more:
The deep ball has not been Bennett’s biggest strength this season, and six of his seven interceptions are in that situation. That said, Bennett did deliver in the last two games. He’s 5 of 10 for 200 yards with two TDs and an interception.
Again, closer than it looks, but the edge goes to Duggan.
Against the blitz
This is a difficult category to quantify, mainly because Bennett does not face much pressure. According to PFF, Bennett has completed 7 of 13 passes (53.8%) for 84 yards in that situation. Georgia’s offensive line did allow two sacks against Ohio State after a string of six games with no sacks.
Duggan was 7 of 21 (33.3%) for 229 yards this season. That included the 76-yard touchdown to Quentin Johnson in the Fiesta Bowl.
“(Duggan) could have run, slid or done whatever,” Johnston said in Tuesday’s teleconference. “He trusted that I was down there, and he did everything he could to buy time. That’s a huge part of how our offense moves the way we’ve been moving this season.”
It’s a limited sample size, so it’s hard to say. Duggan has made more plays, but Bennett has faced less pressure. This could be a trend that pops up during the game. Can Duggan handle the pressure? Will Bennett see any?
QBs vs. Top 25
Bennett played four games against ranked teams, and he was on point. He was 88 of 119 (73.9%), averaged 324.3 passing yards per game with 11 TDs and one interception. That comes on the heels of last year’s CFP, where he was 37 of 56 (66.1%) for 537 yards, 5 TDs and no interceptions. That’s big-time football in huge games.
Duggan played in seven games against ranked teams this season. He finished 137 of 226 (60.6%) with an average of 253.8 yards, 15 TDs and four interceptions. The only loss was the Big 12 championship game, where Duggan had 251 passing yards, 110 rushing yards and two total TDs in the 31-28 overtime loss.
Both quarterbacks played well, but Bennett is on a two-year streak of dominance on the big stage.
Duggan did rally the Horned Frogs against the Wildcats in the Big 12 championship game, but his passing numbers in the fourth quarter are not off the charts. He is 32 of 65 (49.2%) for 476 yards, three TDs and three interceptions. That includes a 116.7 passer rating.
Duggan led TCU back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State and a 11-point deficit against Kansas State in the regular season.
Bennett, meanwhile, has been lights-out in the fourth-quarter on the occasions when he still is in the game.
Bennett is 35 of 47 (74.5%) with 511 yards, three TDs and no interceptions in the fourth quarter this season – and off-the-charts rating of 186.9. Bennett, of course, led Georgia back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Ohio State. He threw the game-winning TD pass to Adonai Mitchell with 54 seconds remaining.
“I think it’s his mental disposition,” Smart said on Tuesday’s teleconference. “I think he doesn’t think of the moment any different than the first quarter through the fourth quarter. He doesn’t feel that. He’s a processor and he’s a deep thinker.”
Duggan finished second and Bennett fourth in the 2022 Heisman Trophy voting. Despite the long track record of college success, both quarterbacks will have to wait during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Duggan would be the first TCU quarterback drafted since Andy Dalton in 2011, and he’s expected to be a late-round pick. Pro Football Network writes: “Duggan does have a degree of natural talent, and his leadership value and competitive toughness are very appealing qualities. Those traits, in particular, are often valued in quality backups and rotational QBs — a role Duggan could eventually fill well.”
Pro Football Network projects Bennett as a late-round pick: “He grades out as a late Day 3 pick at best and could very well fall into the PFA pool. But there are some redeeming qualities within his report that could help him land a backup role.”
Former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was a fifth-round pick in 2020 after leading the Bulldogs to the CFP championship game. That is the range in which Bennett could land.
Both quarterbacks likely will start in a backup role at the next level. Which one sticks? It is too early to tell.
Originally found on Sporting News Read More