Kirby Smart must answer one question for the Georgia offense: Is JT Daniels even an option anymore?

120421 Atlanta: Georgia quarterback JT Daniels, who did not play, and head coach Kirby Smart walk off the field fallijg 41-24 to Alabama in the SEC Championship game on Saturday, Dec 4, 2021, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

ATHENS — The Georgia quarterback situation has come under scrutiny once again in the wake of Stetson Bennett’s struggles in a 41-24 loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.

Bennett was intercepted twice, had two interceptions dropped and completed just one pass thrown over 20 yards.

Kirby Smart said after the game there was no discussion over the headphones of putting JT Daniels in to provide a spark.

RELATED: Everything Kirby Smart and Stetson Bennett said after Alabama loss

SEC Network play-by-play man Tom Hart was among the observers who left Mercedes-Benz Stadium asking the question: Is Daniels even an option anymore?

The big question

“There were numerous opportunities to get JT Daniels in the game that his skill set would be better served to what Georgia had in front of them versus Stetson Bennett, and the mistakes Bennett had already made in that game,” Hart said on WJOX, referring to the five-wide sets and drop-back scheme UGA used once falling behind by two scores.

“When they never went to JT it raised a lot of red flags …. probably helps us understand that he’s not a real option,” Hart said.

“If you don’t play him in the second half of that game, then what’s really going on with him in practice and in the locker room, that’s my biggest question.”

Smart defended Bennett’s performance, saying he played well and made some “really, really, really good throws.” Smart deflected when asked directly if he would consider a QB change.

The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (12-1) play No. 2 Michigan (12-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal in Miami Gardens, Fla.

RELATED: Georgia to face red-hot Wolverines after ‘eye-opening’ loss

Bennett’s numbers

The Georgia offense looks different with Bennett and Daniels under center. Daniels is more of a drop-back passer, while Bennett is noted more for his mobility

The numbers show against SEC competition on third downs, Bennett has scrambled for 6 first downs. But the redshirt senior has also run 5 times and not made a first down on third-down plays and been sacked another 6 times.

Bennett has been effective when the Bulldogs have had success with the run game and stayed on schedule, ranked fourth in the nation in passing efficiency.

“Before Saturday, Bennett had been on the field for just one second-half drive in which the Dawgs weren’t winning by at least 14 points,” Connelly penned. “He had six such drives against Alabama and threw two picks with two turnovers on downs and seven total points.”

Daniels’ 2020-2021

Daniels took over the Georgia offense the final four games of the 2020 season after Bennett was injured during the team’s loss to Florida.

In his first game back since suffering a torn ACL in the USC 2019 opener, Daniels was 28 of 38 for 401 yards and 4 TDs on a night the Dawgs’ run game managed just 8 yards rushing on 23 attempts in a 31-24 win over Mississippi State.

Daniels capped the season playing behind a shuffled offensive line against undefeated Cincinnati, engineering a last-minute, game-winning drive in the Peach Bowl. Daniels’ numbers against the Bearcats Top 5 pass defense: 26-of-38 passing for 392 yards with a TD and an interception.

Daniels underwent offseason knee surgery before spring drills to clean up loose cartilage that had affected his mobility and mechanics in 2020. The result was more mobility and better mechanics throughout spring drills.

RELATED: JT Daniels moves to top of preseason Heisman Trophy odds

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