ATHENS — Given Georgia’s history of facing backup quarterbacks in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, you would think the 2022 defense would be expecting the possibility of facing Garrett Nussmeier on Saturday.
Starting LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is battling an ankle injury and was in a walking boot earlier this week. LSU is optimistic he’ll be able to play, but in the event he isn’t, the Tigers would turn to Nussmeier.
But Georgia is very much expecting to see Daniels out there come Saturday’s SEC championship game.
“That was news to me. We’re really just preparing like he’s going to be there,” Georgia defensive lineman Zion Logue said. “We know anything can happen during the week. Guys can go down. We got to stay ready for all things and prepare for any and every quarterback that they have.”
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Nussmeier and Daniels’ games could not be more different. Nuessmier is a pocket passer, while Daniels has repeatedly used his feet as a weapon to hurt opposing defenses.
He ran for 95 yards in the win over Alabama and doubles as the team’s leading rusher. Logue compared Daniels’ running ability to that of Auburn quarterback Robbie Ashford.
“Great quarterback, great athlete. Explosive guy,” defensive back Javon Bullard said of Daniels. “Can make a play at any second. We have to be tuned in and try and limit that.”
Daniels won’t be the first mobile quarterback Georgia has faced this year, as Ashford, Kentucky’s Will Levis, Florida’s Anthony Richardson and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker all used their legs when things broke down.
Georgia does enter the game with the No. 1 ranked rushing defense in the country, showing it can slow both traditional ground games and quarterback runs as well. The key for the Georgia defense this weekend will be keeping Daniels in the pocket.
That should be an easier task if Daniels is limited by his ankle injury.
“They’re going to try to use him as a runner and a passer. Not really let him use his feet as much,” Logue said. “Try to make him sit in the pocket, get a cage around him and just play our game.”
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A fully healthy Daniels would pose a tough test for this Georgia defense. But this is an LSU offense that has also struggled at times this season to score consistently. As great as the Tigers looked against Ole Miss and Alabama, LSU scored just 13 points against Tennessee and Arkansas. And Daniels was healthy in both of those contests.
Meanwhile, the Georgia defense enters the game with the No. 1 scoring defense in the country and is eager to put on a better showing than it did last season in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs gave up a season-worst 41 points in a loss to Alabama.
This team has actively tried to avoid comparisons to last season’s team. But it knows a strong performance on Saturday will give them something that the 2021 team did not have. An SEC championship.
“Coming off a loss, a wounded tiger is the most dangerous tiger,” Logue said. “We know we have to go in there with the right mindset from the start of the game to the end of the game.”
Zion Logue expecting to see LSU start Jayden Daniels on Saturday
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