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Georgia Football

What Did Georgia Bulldogs QB JT Daniels Show Us During G-Day?

April 18, 2021


ATHENS - There is no disputing that JT Daniels is running the show for Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs’ offense. 

I spent the entire afternoon watching Daniels’ every move around Sanford Stadium. A couple of weeks ago, Daniels told reporters about his ambitions to become a more vocal leader - a leader that holds himself and everybody else accountable - someone who brings energy to the sideline. 

“Typically I've always been just more of a laid back kind of guy - especially on the field,” said Daniels on April 6.

So, what did G-Day show us about Daniels?

The answer to that question goes beyond his on-field performance, which was good enough, but that will be addressed later. 

In Daniels’ first opportunity to step up and take control of the sideline, he remained laid back. This should be prefaced with the possibility that his calm nature may not be an issue but rather something that needs to be analyzed. 

However, there is some evidence:

Daniels was the leading quarterback of the Red team, which consisted of the first-team offense. He led the Red team to a fine drive down the field on the opening possession, and they were faced with a 3rd and 14 in enemy territory. Freshman wideout Adonai Mitchell, an early enrollee, couldn’t haul in a nice back shoulder throw to the outside from Daniels.

After he realized the pass was incomplete, Daniels immediately jogged to the sideline to seek counsel from some of the assistant coaches. That conversation lasted for a brief period, and then he was joined with Stetson Bennett IV for the remainder of the Black team’s ensuing offensive drive. 

Daniels did not speak to Mitchell after that play. 

Approaching his young receiver the moment after a dropped ball (on a very catchable pass) would have been a strong step in the right direction for what Daniels wants to accomplish as the Georgia Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. For whatever reason, he chose not to do that. 

Daniels and Bennett were joined at the hip for the majority of their time together on the sideline. It is not out of the ordinary for quarterbacks to huddle and talk together during games, but Daniels rarely perused the sideline to coach up and talk to the rest of the team.

During the bulk of the game the two quarterbacks of the Red team talked a lot with Ryan Williams, one of the quarterbacks coaches on the staff. Williams followed Daniels around whenever he was off the field. Williams played quarterback at Miami a few years back, suffering an injury-derailed career. 

Talking through what is going on the field with one of your coaches and fellow quarterbacks has its benefits, but again, Daniels seldomly spoke with other players on the team. There were a handful of conversations with receivers, like George Pickens and Kearis Jackson. Even so, the majority of his time was spent with Bennett IV and Williams when he was not competing against the Black team.

Talking a lot on the sideline or not, Coach Kirby Smart seems to be confident giving Daniels the reins of this high-powered UGA offense.

"He's got command of the offense. He's got an ability to utilize the pocket,” said Smart. 

Daniels’ control is clear, even if he is not a vocal leader. His calm demeanor helps him make smart decisions, and that was evident on Saturday. 

“He had a good feel, a good command for the offense, even last year,” the coach continued.

Smart’s trust in his starter goes back to 2020, when there was no spring ball to acclimate him to the program, and he missed time due to injury. Daniels did not have a spectacular day at G-Day, but he made crisp throws and good choices - taking what the defense gave him. He is focused on leading the team by making the right plays. 

Daniels had 12 passes to running backs during the scrimmage. That accounted for 43% of his completions. 

“I love throwing the ball deep, and you see it a lot but, especially when you have James, Zamir, Kendall all the guys, we have I think check downs in general are the most underrated and underappreciated aspect of the offense,” said Daniels. “You know if I have to check it down 10 times in a row, I’ll check it down 10 times in a row.”

Daniels ended Saturday going 28-of-41 for 324 yards with three touchdowns. What was probably the most impressive thing to remember was who he was throwing to: a freshman wide receiver, Cook and White. That trio combined to grab 19 of his passes. 

Jermaine Burton, Pickens, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Dominick Blaylock, Darnell Washington, Arian Smith, Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton were all on the opposing team or did not participate in the scrimmage. That’s a lot of firepower Daniels didn’t get to exploit. 

This offense is loaded, and Daniels has command. He is still working on being an outgoing leader, but he has the weapons and the control you need to make putting points on the board look pretty effortless. 

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