It's always difficult to tease out the effect of the loss of any one player on his team, particularly wide receivers. Wideouts are among the oddest creatures in football, second maybe only to kickers -- they can turn a game around one week and then be a complete non-factor the next.
But Michael Bennett, by any measure, had the potential to be a potent weapon for Georgia in its showdown this Saturday at South Carolina before his season-ending injury. I don't necessarily think the loss will hurt Georgia in other games, when the Dawgs coaches and offense will have more time to prepare. But against a strong defense where the one weak point has been pass coverage, and with Bennett's knack for being involved in third-down conversions, Georgia doesn't need to be trying to replace their leading receiver with just a few days to go.
Before he went down, Bennett had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns (cfbstats.com). Seventeen of his receptions (71 percent) went for first downs, including six of the eight catches he made in third-down situations.
If you review Bennett's catches on the SEC video box scores archive -- the Tennessee game was not up as of this writing -- one thing that leaps out at you is that Bennett rarely drops a good pass. I can remember two passes that he probably should have caught and didn't. I can remember at least one that he probably shouldn't have caught and did. Another couple of passes sailed wide and Bennett caught one out of bounds.
He was a reliable receiver; he might not have been the kind of guy who has breakaway speed, but he can get open and catch the ball when he is open -- two things that aren't always as easy as they should be for receivers.
That's one of the reasons I'm not sure I would be a sanguine as Dawg Sports is about the loss of Bennett for this week. Their take:
All in all, while this certainly isn't a problem that any offensive coordinator wants to be dealing with leading into the team's biggest game of the year, I don't see this having a decidedly negative impact on the offense. If the offense skips a beat at all, it should be only minor, and would likely just be more a result of players adjusting to new roles on the offense.
But hailtogeorgia also makes some solid points. Georgia has some depth at wide receiver, and the Todd Gurley-Keith Marshall tandem at running back provides enough balance that losing some of the passing game isn't going to cripple the Dawgs. Having Aaron Murray throw the ball doesn't hurt.
Still, it's an average of almost five catches for 69 yards a game. The question isn't so much whether the Georgia offense will regroup and find someone to replace those yards; they will. The question is whether they will do so soon enough to help out in one of the biggest games of the season.