ATHENS, Ga. — Tailback Todd Gurley’s return to the Georgia offense wasn’t the only advantage the Bulldogs had over Florida.
Junior Michael Bennett played for the first time Saturday since injuring his knee against Tennessee on Oct. 5 and matched his season high with five catches for 59 yards.
“He ain’t the fastest,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said, “but that’s one tough, tough football player that fights. If you put it near, he usually catches the ball.”
There was fear initially from Georgia fans that Bennett might have suffered another season-ending injury like last year when he tore an ACL, but he was told on the sideline in Konxville that it was only a torn meniscus.
“I knew it wasn’t serious,” Bennett said. “I know what an ACL feels like and it definitely wasn’t that. … You kind of know when you’ve been through that kind of injury and it wasn’t the same.”
Bennett was told while he watched Georgia’s overtime win against Tennessee on the sideline that he would be out only two to three weeks. He missed the losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt after surgery.
“I was just hoping that we would get those couple of wins,” Bennett said. “We didn’t. It is what it is. We’re still in the race of the SEC East.”
Georgia’s chances are certainly better with Bennett than without him. Bobo said Bennett’s return was “huge” for an offense that only had 114 passing yards against Vanderbilt. Of course, having the explosive Gurley in the backfield back from an ankle injury impacts both the running and passing game.
Bennett, working as a slot receiver, had catches of 5 and 9 yards on Georgia’s first touchdown drive of the game and had an important 14-yard catch on third-and-7 later in the first quarter.
“He made some really tough catches in tight coverage, which is what he does, which is what you have to do against the Florida defense,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said.
In the first quarter of Saturday’s game, Bennett stretched to make a third-down catch over Florida freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, leading to a 49-yard Marshall Morgan field goal. Quarterback Aaron Murray hit Bennett on passes of 19 and 12 yards to start Georgia’s field goal drive before halftime.
Bennett kept telling each reporter that asked him after the Florida game that his knee is now good.
“Yeah, I’m 100 percent,” he said.
Georgia’s offense is still missing injured receivers Justin Scott-Wesley, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley, but is certainly glad to have Bennett again.