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Georgia Football

JT Daniels Leads the Georgia Bulldogs' Offensive Explosion - What That Means for 2021

February 7, 2021
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ATHENS - In the days leading up to the Georgia Bulldogs’ 2020 season, receiver Kearis Jackson talked about the Dawgs’ offense, and the explosion fans should expect to see. 

“This will be a Georgia offense that nobody has ever seen before,” he told reporters just before the opener with Arkansas.

That wasn’t what happened - not until much later in the year. Players tend to over-exaggerate their work in the summers. New systems always equal success. In short, it is hard to take seriously what players say about thier off seasons. Jackson was way off from what he thought would be the case when the season started, but by the end of the year he was right. Kearis Jackson is no dummy. 

It took a while for Jackson to be correct, and for Kirby Smart’s team to get there, but finally it did five days before Thanksgiving in 2020. The instillation of JT Daniels at quarterback for the Bulldogs made a noticeable and consequential difference for Georgia just when the Bulldogs needed it. 

It took the Bulldogs eight games against power five or major bowl teams to do what Daniels did in four. Georgia’s passing attack in 2019 wasn’t where it needed to be, and that cost Georgia in critical moments of of the season - like when Georgia was upset by South Carolina in a game where it managed only one pass further than 20 yards. That continued to be the case in 2020. 

Consider that in the first six games of 2020 the Bulldogs had 15 total passing plays that resulted in 20 yards or more. Five of those plays were touchdowns. Running back James Cook‍, who is certainly explosive, and tight end Darnell Washington‍ had more explosive passing plays in the first six games of the year (2) than George Pickens (1). Once Daniels got behind center the receivers took off - specifically Pickens.

As everyone saw, UGA simply took off. JT Daniels‍ had six explosive plays, with two of them being touchdowns, in his first game at Georgia alone. He ended the 2020 season with 22 explosive passes. Jake Fromm only had 31 explosive pass plays in 2019 against power five foes - and that was in 12 total games to Daniels’ four. Fromm had 36 in both 2018 and 2017. 

Georgia, with Daniels, became more explosive to be sure. Back to Pickens - look at his production late in the year. The Alabama native had eight 20-yard-or-more receptions in the final four games of the season. Suddenly Georgia had become what Jackson had warned about. Kirby Smart’s hire at offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, was producing. 

Four games and 781 yards of big plays later, Daniels has made Georgia’s offense something other than an afterthought for the first time since 2017, when it was predicated on a power run game that foes found troublesome to stop. 

What does this mean for 2021? It should mean a whole lot more production from an offense that struggled in the passing game even with elite talent at pass-catching positions. The plays were there to be made in Monken’s offensive system the entire year, but it took a while for big plays to happen. 

Now, with eight months to prepare for a fight with Clemson and the SEC, the Bulldogs have everything in front of them to make a run at Atlanta and beyond. 

Big plays per start vs. power five schools/bowl games

1. JT Daniels - 5.5 per game
2. Stetson Bennett - 3.0 per game
3. Jake Fromm - 2.9 per game
4. Jacob Eason - 2.6 per game
5. D'Wan Mathis - 1.0 per game
5. Greyson Lambert - 1.0 per game

Big passing plays under Kirby Smart by thrower vs. power 5 schools or bowl games

1. Jake Fromm - 36 power-five starts at UGA - 103 big-passing plays - 3,309 total big-play passing yards
2. Jacob Eason - 10 power-five starts at UGA - 26 big-passing plays - 907 total big-play passing yards
3. JT Daniels - 4 power-five starts at UGA - 22 big-passing plays - 781 total big-play passing yards
4. Stetson Bennett - 5 power-five starts at UGA - 15 big-passing plays - 499 total big-play passing yards
5. Justin Fields - 0 power-five starts at UGA - 2 big-passing plays - 44 total big-play passing yards
6. Marshall Long - 0 power-five starts at UGA - 1 big-passing plays - 29 total big-play passing yards
7. D'Wan Mathis - 1 power-five starts at UGA - 1 big-passing plays - 25 total big-play passing yards
7 .Greyson Lambert - 1 power-five starts at UGA - 1 big-passing plays - 25 total big-play passing yards

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