Is JT Daniels playing today? Georgia set to start Stetson Bennett against Florida despite Daniels return from injury
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Kirby Smart has an interesting decision to make regarding the Georgia quarterback’s situation against Florida on Saturday.
JT Daniels, who has missed four games this season with injury, is finally healthy enough to step onto the pitch in Week 9 of the season. But No.1 Georgia didn’t really suffer without him up front, as substitute Stetson Bennett played much better than just a provisional replacement for the top-ranked Bulldogs.
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Smart’s move comes at the right time, given that Georgia play rivals Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. On Saturday. The Gators (4-3, 2-3 in SEC play) represent the last real threat the Bulldogs face in the regular season. They too have a curious quarterback situation, as Florida coach Dan Mullen has said the team will face Anthony Richardson and Emory Jones against Georgia.
If this strategy is successful in confusing the Bulldogs’ defense, then Smart will need his quarterback – whoever he is – to play well and thwart any thwarted offer.
Is JT Daniels playing today?
Bennett is expected to leave for Georgia as he heads to Jacksonville, Fla. To face the Gators. The decision has nothing to do with Daniels’ health, however. Smart on October 21 said Daniels was able to participate fully in the Bulldogs’ training on Wednesday during the week off, admitting he looked “rusty”:
“JT trained (Wednesday) and did just about everything,” Smart said via ESPN. “I thought (Wednesday) was the first time since Vanderbilt that I could have said, ‘Man, he looks like he can play. “Now he’s rusty and (Thursday) will probably be the telltale practice as it will be the first time he’s pitched twice in a row after throwing a lot on Wednesday.”
Smart reiterated that Daniels was healthy enough to play earlier this week, providing an update on his improvement:
“He looks good. He did a good job. I would be remiss if I could tell you everything he did today,” Smart told reporters. “That’s why when I hang up that call I’m going to look at it and see it visually with my eyes because a lot of times in training I look at it from a defensive perspective. ‘A perspective quarterback. I also talk to Coach (Todd) Monken and the attacking staff about it. He did a good job. I wouldn’t say there were a lot of limits. He doesn’t seem like that there have been limits in terms of what he can and cannot do. “
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Daniels opened the Bulldogs’ season opener against No.3 Clemson, completing 22 of 35 passes for 135 yards and an interception against the Tigers in a 10-3 win. A strained slant he suffered in the win forced him to miss the Bulldogs’ next game against UAB; Smart initially chose freshman Carson Beck to start against the Blazers, but instead decided to go with Bennett. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and five scores in a 56-7 victory.
Daniels returned to the game in Week 3 against South Carolina, completing 23 of 31 passes for 303 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He led the Bulldogs to touchdowns in their first two practices of the game before Smart played Bennett in the third set. He completed just 1 of 3 passes for 4 yards, also throwing an interception. He did not return to the game as Daniels led the Bulldogs to a 40-13 victory.
Daniels played his best game of the season in Week 4 against Vanderbilt, completing 9 of 10 passes for 129 yards and two scores as he led the Bulldogs to a 35-0 halftime lead. He came out after the first quarter, allowing Bennett to come in and get more reps. The substitute struggled again, throwing an interception in his first practice, before rebounding to complete 11 of 15 passes for 151 yards and one score.
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A tight lat ahead of Week 5’s game against Arkansas, however, kept Daniels out of the starting lineup. He has not yet returned to the field since then, with Bennett having secured three straight starts.
Bennett has played effectively in his last three games against No.8 Arkansas, No.18 Auburn and No.11 Kentucky. Against the Razorbacks, he completed 7 of 11 passes for 72 yards, adding three rushes for 16 yards; against the Tigers, he completed 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns, adding six rushes for 41 yards; and against the Wildcats, he completed 14 of 20 passes for three touchdowns. He also had three carries for 22 yards.
JT Daniels Statistics
Due to his limited play this season, Daniels hasn’t really lit up the opposing defenses. In three games this year, he completed 54 of 71 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns for two interceptions. He was also credited with three carries for less than 15 yards during the season.
Daniels, through no fault of his own, failed to live up to the hype he created for himself in 2020. He returned from injury to play the team’s last four games of the season as third starting quarterback of the year. He completed 80 of 119 passes for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns for two interceptions, earning him a 178.5 quarterback rating for the year. More importantly, he led the Bulldogs to a 4-0 record as a starter.
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