Confidence, leadership are big reasons Georgia football is excited to see more from JT Daniels
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What does the future hold of JT Daniels and Georgia football?
When you throw for 401 yards and four touchdowns in your first start, it’s going to be tough to follow that up with a more impressive performance.
So the fact that Daniels threw for just 139 yards on 16 attempts and only two touchdowns shouldn’t come as a shock. He did have his first interception as a Bulldog, though he was a bit unlucky in that the ball deflected off the hands of Kearis Jackson.
But with Georgia running for 332 yards and earning a 45-16 win over South Carolina, it was another strong day for the offense under Daniels’ guidance. Another encouraging sign for the future of the Georgia offense for both the 2020 season and potentially the 2021 season.
Perhaps that’s why so many were excited by Daniels’ tweet on Sunday afternoon with a promise of “More to come”.
More to come 🐶 pic.twitter.com/YpwQ3XPlBC
— JT Daniels (@jtdaniels06) November 29, 2020
Daniels looked at his best on Georgia’s first drive of the game when he hooked up with Tre’ McKitty twice. The first reception went for 40-yards. The second led to Georgia’s opening score of the game.
“Right now, him as the starter he’s just taken command of the offense and everyone is following his lead,” McKitty said. “He’s doing a really great job right now.”
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) November 29, 2020
Through two games, Daniels has completed 38 of his 54 pass attempts for 540 yards. He’s got a 6-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Perhaps most impressive is how he’s played on third down to this point, as he’s completed 11 of his 12 attempts on the down for 150 yards and four touchdowns.
He’s also shown an ability to connect on downfield throws, with three of his six touchdown passes traveling more than 30-yards in the air. He’s also shown confidence in a number of receivers beyond just the usual suspects of George Pickens, Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton.
Demetris Robertson hauled in three passes for 45 yards against Mississippi State, all in the second half. Then on the first play of the fourth quarter against South Carolina, he connected with Arian Smith for a 31-yard touchdown. It was the first catch of Smith’s career.
— GEORGIA HEROES (@GeorgiaHeroes) November 29, 2020
“Just knowing that he’s got confidence,” running back James Cook said on what impresses him the most about Daniels. “That he can run the offense, that he knows what he’s doing, that he’s making great throws. Just having confidence is everything.”
As for what Kirby Smart wants to see going forward it isn’t a 50-yard bomb or fitting a ball into a tight window.
“Good decision making—that is the most important thing, to continue to make good decisions,” Smart said. “If it’s not there, take off and run with it, throw it away—which he did the other day. There are going to be times where you don’t have the perfect call, or maybe they got the perfect defense into a call, and hey, you have to punt, you have to throw it away.
“That’s what I want to see him do and continue to get better at.”
Daniels has been fortunate in that in games against both Mississippi State and South Carolina he has had interceptions dropped by the opposing defender. After the Mississipi State win, Daniels called the throw ‘dumb’ and chalked it up partially to it being his first game action at Georgia.
His completion percentage has been at 70.4 percent so far, but you do see little bits of rust in terms of touch. He underthrew Burton in the South Carolina game on a pass that could’ve gone for a touchdown. Later in the game, Daniels and Burton were unable to hook-up in the endzone as Burton couldn’t quite haul in another pass from Daniels. With more reps, Daniels and the wide receivers are able to hit on those plays.
For all that Daniels has done in the first two games, it is worth keeping in mind this is the first time since the 2018 season that he’s played in consecutive weeks after he tore his ACL in the opening game of the 2019 season.
The confidence seems to be there in his knee as he hasn’t looked unsure when navigating the pocket. He won’t take off and sprint for 30-yards downfield, but even pre-injury that wasn’t his strength.
Daniels wants to beat teams with his arm and his pre-snap abilities. That means putting the team in the right plays and getting the most out of the entire offense, and not just Daniels and his arm.
While Georgia and Daniels no doubt would’ve wanted to throw the ball more than 16 times against South Carolina, when you’re averaging 7.2 yards per carry, why deviate from that?
“If you give JT the choice every time, he’s going to probably pull it and throw it,” Smart said. “But, if you are having success running the ball, you don’t have to do the other. It wasn’t more that they dictated anything, it was more that, hey this is what was working and that’s what we stuck with. We certainly have confidence in JT to be able to throw the ball.”
Georgia will face an outmanned Vanderbilt team this week, giving Daniels another chance to grow more confident in the Georgia offense. The Bulldogs will also learn on Friday when their game against Missouri is set for, and that game should provide a much tougher test for Daniels and the Bulldogs.
There’s also a bowl game in line for the Bulldogs, possibly a New Years Six bowl if Daniels continues to play well and Georgia keeps winning. Then Daniels will have a decision to make regarding the 2021 NFL Draft. Daniels will be eligble and if he continues to play well it’s easy to see him getting a draftable grade.
But with the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, BYU’s Zach Wilson and other quarterbacks being more established, there’s a compelling case for Daniels to return to Georgia. If he and Georgia’s young pass-catchers continue to grow and improve it possibly allows Daniels to emerge as top quarterback in the 2022 draft cycle.
Many who follow the Georgia program wanted to see what Daniels would do when given the chance to play. So far he’s excelled for Georgia and help shift the narrative around the program.
He’s done that in just two games. If he remains confident and continues to develop chemistry within the Georgia offense, Daniels is going to bring a whole lot more to the Bulldogs than just points and passing yards.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
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- Kirby Smart praises Ben Cleveland as senior OL wins SEC honors once again
- Georgia football stock report: Bulldogs cash in on gutted Gamecocks
- Georgia football winners and losers following big win over South Carolina
- Georgia football opens as mammoth favorite over struggling Vanderbilt
- Georgia football-Vanderbilt game time, TV network announced for Week 14 game
- Georgia football moves up in AP Poll after complete win over South Carolina
- Georgia football players, fans take to social media to celebrate big win over South Carolina, Mike Bobo
- South Carolina’s Mike Bobo on Georgia: ‘They’ve shut everybody down except two teams’
- Georgia defense celebrates getting ‘redemption’ over South Carolina with some hedge destruction
- Georgia football gets passing grade for running and defense at South Carolina
- Kirby Smart on Georgia football rushing game: ‘We didn’t go out and reinvent the wheel to run the ball’
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— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) November 30, 2020
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) November 30, 2020
You know the move🔴⚫️ https://t.co/iWcmClhbRr
— Lovasea Carroll (@LovaseaC) November 30, 2020
I don’t know much about being an AD but UGA shouldn’t have to look far got one of the best in the business in @Brooks_UGA!
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Good Dawg of the Day
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