Neither Kearis Jackson nor Jamaree Salyer were all that surprised by what JT Daniels did on Saturday night.
While his offensive teammates couldn’t have predicted he’d throw for 401 yards and four touchdowns, they had both seen Daniels improve and show his talents in practice over the course of the season.
“I gotta give it to him. He’s not a gamer by far. He has that same demeanor in practice,” Salyer said. “That confidence he projects and the way he throws the ball, he really believes in himself. It’s not just by chance that this happened, he prepared for it.”
Jackson added he very much enjoyed translating what they had been doing on the practice field into game action.
“It was a fun moment seeing your guys go out there and competing especially in practice and then translating it over to the game,” Jackson said.
Related: Game Ball: JT Daniels’ 401-yard passing performance ignites Georgia offense
The word fun hasn’t been said when talking about the Georgia offense in recent seasons. But when you hit on big plays like Georgia did time and time again in the passing game against Mississippi State, it’s easy to see why Jackson and Salyer were both smiling when talking about the performance of Daniels.
Daniels didn’t arrive at Georgia until May of this offseason. At that point in time, Jamie Newman was still on the team and projected to be the starting quarterback. And Daniels was still recovering from an ACL injury that ended his 2019 season.
But Jackson gave an illuminating answer as to why Daniels had an instant connection with the likes of George Pickens and Jermaine Burton.
The offensive players weren’t the only ones though who took notice of Daniels. The defensive players on the team also praised the new starting quarterback. In part, Lewis Cine and Nakobe Dean credited him for bailing out the Georgia defense after a less than stellar effort.
But Dean also had a comment that shows perhaps why Daniels has endeared himself to the team.
“Just to see how patient he was and how he didn’t complain, how he waited his turn through the whole process and took big advantage of that, it really had a big effect in how we see him,” Dean said.
This was his first start of the season, even though Georgia pretty clearly had quarterback problems throughout the year. It arguably cost them games against Alabama and Florida.
Georgia’s head coach had a nearly identical comment to that of Dean, praising how Daniels kept working to get better every week.
“Let’s make the discussion about how well JT handled it in a world where nobody handles things very well when they don’t get what they want. What he did is he said, ‘coach, I want to come down to the scouts and I want to throw and I want to be part of the game plan,'” Smart said.
“He started showing us that, ‘hey, I can do this thing.’ He took the bull by the horns and he took advantage of it tonight.”
Through his effort in practice and all that led Daniels to this point though, it’s clear that he is the future of the Georgia offense and that very much excites his fellow teammates.
“The ball just pops out of his hand in a different kind of way,” Salyer said. “He releases that thing and it flys. He made my job a lot easier. I’m happy, I’m smiling. The ball travels 50-yards. Very blessed to have that kind of talent.”
JT Daniels speaks after win over Mississippi State
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