"I came into this season wanting to start," he said. "It's not like some surprise, but you've got to make the most of your opportunities and that's what I'm trying to do."
Bennett failed to make a catch or see many reps with Brown on the field during the season opener against Boise State. It wasn't until Brown was limited against South Carolina and completely out last weekend versus Coastal Carolina that Bennett started making noise. He made seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in the two games.
"Yeah I backed Marlon up at slot receiver," Bennett said. "Now that he's out, I'm the starter in the slot when we go to the three-receiver set. We play that a good bit, so I'll be getting a good amount of playing time again. I'm excited about that."
Bennett's style and skill set are suited for the slot position, where possession-type routes and blocking linebackers are a requirement.
"I'm trying to block my butt off," he said. "That's always a hard thing to do, but I try to take pride in that as well. I feel like I can stretch the field, too. I just haven't been getting that many opportunities with that. The slot receiver doesn't really get down field that much. That's fine. Whatever they need me to do on each play, I'll do it. I'm not complaining at all."
At 6-3, 210 pounds, Bennett brings physicality to the position that is rarely found in a player his age.
"Sometimes it takes time to get a guy tough enough to play the game the way it should be played and get after it they way he should get after it," coach Mark Richt said. "I really think (Bennett) showed up with some physical and mental toughness that I really like."
Brown is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against Ole Miss, meaning Bennett's opportunities could continue.
"It's just business man," he said. "We know what we've got to get done, and we try to execute our best. It's nothing special."
Paying understated dividends
Junior outside linebacker Cornelius Washington moved from the strong side to the weak side in the offseason.
The switch may appear minor, but Washington' s new responsibilities better fit his abilities.
"I'm most of the time at the defensive end position," Washington said.
In the basic defensive look, Washington mans the outside linebacker position. When the unit adds an extra defensive back for the nickel package, Washington frequently plays on the line. In either formation, the 6-4, 270-pounder mostly rushes the quarterback. While he's yet to collect a sack this season, Washington has tallied a team-high five quarterback hurries.
"I think Cornelius has played as good as he's played since I've been here," said defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. "The guy has played very physical and very fast."
Washington was a non-factor last season playing strong side linebacker. It took time for him to comprehend the pass coverage that comes with the territory, which eventually cost him the starting job.
This season, with his mission simplified to getting the quarterback, Washington is picking up momentum.
"Cornelius is a monster in what he does," said freshman outside linebacker Ray Drew.
"Here's one thing about Cornelius – I think he's playing harder than I've ever seen him play," Richt said. "I'm really proud of his effort, and the more he plays with that kind of intensity, the more hurries and sacks and tackles for loss and all that kind of stuff is going to happen. He's practiced hard, he's played hard, and he will reap the benefit as will Georgia."
Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell will wear rib protectors against Ole Miss after experiencing soreness during the past two games
He never experienced an injury, Crowell said, but he did have shortness of breath that limited his play. "I guess it was just chance," Crowell said. "…Yeah, soreness. That's what it is."
Crowell, the team leader with 264 rushing yards and two touchdowns, has yet to carry the ball more than 16 times this season – a figure he'd like to send into the 20s if the opportunity presents itself, he said.
"Obviously he's a guy you'd like to be able to play a lot of snaps, but he's just not there yet," said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. "He works hard at practice. He's doing what he needs to do schematically and always pushing himself where he'll be ready to go on Saturday. It's going to take time. He's a freshman. He's learning what it takes to carry that ball. It's our goal to get him out there."
Crowell insists general fatigue has not been holding him back.
"Really it was just ribs," he said. "That's really what it was. …It will come."
This and that
Ole Miss punter Tyler Campbell leads the conference in average per punt at 47 yards per kick. Georgia's Drew Butler is second, averaging 45.7 yards. "I'm sure there's a little bit of pride on the line," Richt said. … Ole Miss kicker Bryson Rose and Georgia's Blair Walsh have known each other since high school, when the two attended a kicking camp together. Walsh said the two haven't spoken much since, but have kept up with each other's progress in college. "I'm glad to see he's getting the opportunity to kick there," Walsh, who is 3 of 5 on field goals this season with a long of 56 yards, said.