Florida quarterback Emory Jones and Georgia quarterback JT Daniels could not be more different in terms of skillset.
The latter is a prototypical pocket pass that is at his best attacking the intermediate parts of the field. While he has a great arm, he lacks athleticism due to an ACL injury he suffered his sophomore season at USC.
Jones meanwhile has patiently waited his turn to start for the Florida Gators. He’s shown he can be a threat with his legs and has a big arm. But his accuracy has left something to be desired.
Daniels has 15 careers starts, with four of them coming for Georgia last year. Those four starts impressed some, as the Bulldogs went 4-0 with Daniels starting. There’s a thought that with a more normal offseason, Daniels can build off his finish to 2020. That’s why some peg Daniels as one of the top signal-callers in the SEC.
Jones meanwhile gets to start for a proven play-caller in Mullen. Jones was a higher-rated prospect than the likes of Nick Fitzgerald and Dak Prescott, who had a lot of success with Mullen in his time at Mississippi State.
That potential, which might be even higher than Daniels, is why some see Jones as a possible All-SEC quarterback.
Jones was named to the Third Team on both Phil Steele’s and Pro Football Focus’ Preseason All-SEC team. Daniels meanwhile landed on the Second Team for Steele, but was left off of Pro Football Focus.
In 2020, Daniels threw for 10 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions while completing 67 percent of his passes. His 10.3 yards per attempts number is the highest among any returning Power 5 quarterback.
Jones conversely completed only 56 percent of his passes at 6.9 yards per attempt. He had two touchdown passes while throwing one interception over 32 passing attempts. The junior was far more productive on the ground, rushing for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Entering the 2021 season, both Daniels and Jones will need to do more for their respective teams. For Daniels, he’ll need to continue to elevate his game as the Bulldogs look to at the very least reclaim the SEC East in 2021. Georgia’s goals though are much higher, as the Bulldogs bring back many of the key contributors from the 2020 team on that side of the ball.
Jones on the other hand will look to convert that long-discussed potential into production. The Florida offense, if tailored to Jones’ strengths, will look drastically different. Florida lost first-round picks Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney, but they gained former Clemson running back DeMarkcus Bowman.
If the Florida offense is going to be successful in 2021, it will need Jones to improve as a pass while effectively using his legs to move the ball.
Expectations are higher for Daniels, due in part to his 2020 finish and larger, four-start sample size. For Jones, delivering on some of his preseason hype would be a welcome sign for Florida, as they look to keep up with Georgia in the SEC East arms race.
We will get a chance to see how each quarterback fares against the other in 2021, as the two rivals play on Oct. 30 in Jacksonville, Fla. The Gators won last year’s contest, simply because Kyle Trask was excellent and the Georgia combination of Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis was not.
Neither Jones or Daniels attempted a pass in that game. Many will be looking forward to seeing how both perform this season, so as to validate the hype that each has received.