Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said “it’s pretty apparent” the No. 1 Bulldogs can play better than they did Saturday in their 42-41 win against Ohio State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, a motivating factor as they prepare to face No. 3 TCU at SoFi Stadium on Monday in Los Angeles (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App).
Bennett said Tuesday one of the reasons he flourished in the fourth quarter was because he had to, as Georgia trailed 38-24. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the most passing yards in the final quarter in CFP history. The pressure was on after Georgia opened the second half with two three-and-outs.
“Who knows what the reason was, but it does have to be fixed,” said Bennett, who also threw an interception against the Buckeyes. “We’re trying to be perfect. And we’re trying to do everything that we can to make every play perfect. And when it’s not — win or lose — we’re not happy with it.”
It’s a message that was sent immediately after the clock expired on Saturday night, after Georgia was shut out in the third quarter, converted just 2 of 10 third downs, and the defense didn’t have an answer for Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. Georgia will face another Heisman Trophy finalist in TCU quarterback Max Duggan as the Bulldogs look to become the first program to win back-to-back national championships since Alabama in 2011-12.
“I think the whole team can attest that we didn’t play our best game,” said Georgia defensive back Javon Bullard, “but at the end of the day, it’s only one result that matters the most, and that’s the W. But there’s a whole lot we can fix … communication and things like that, just the basic things like that, knowing your leverage, talking. I know we’ve got to talk better throughout with the secondary and things like that. Like I said, throughout this week we’re just going to work on some other things and try to detail our work to the best of our ability.”
TCU coach Sonny Dykes said he noticed Ohio State’s ability to make some big plays in the passing game, but he’s sure Georgia will “work to get some of those issues addressed.”
“Quite frankly they just made some contested plays, and Ohio State’s got a really good group of wide receivers and those guys really played well, and credit their quarterback,” Dykes said. “Georgia is not accustomed to giving up that many points, but you got to see what Georgia is all about in the fourth quarter of that game.
“I’m sure they’re correcting some of those plays in the passing game,” he said. “Those are the kind of plays we’re going to have to make. We’re going to have to make some of those 50-50 ball plays, and we’re going to have to have our best players step up and play big games, kind of like they did last week.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said he is “hopeful” linebacker Chaz Chambliss (knee), tight end Darnell Washington (ankle), and right tackle Warren McClendon (knee) will be able to play, but he didn’t give a definitive status.
“Darnell is getting treatment,” Bennett said. “He’s resting up. And hopefully he’ll be good to go. But he’s an unbelievable talent. And he’s amazing. But if he can’t go, then we’ll just have other people step up. That’s the way it works here. … He’s one of the game-changers we have, but if we don’t, then we still have to go win a football game.”