Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Tony Walsh/UGAAA
JT Daniels is coming back from a torn ACL.

The biggest question currently surrounding the Georgia quarterback battle

Welcome to Good Day, UGA, your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

One big questions stand out from the rest of when discussing Georgia football quarterback battle

From the moment Jake Fromm announced he would be declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft, the biggest question when it comes to the entire Georgia team has been who would be the starting quarterback?

There have been a number of twists and turns to get this point. For a long time, it looked like Jamie Newman would be the guy. The big question then became, could Newman possibly live up to the hype bestowed upon him?

In May, JT Daniels transferred into the program, bringing a whole new round of questions. After Daniels was granted eligibility by the NCAA, the big question became would Newman hold off Daniels?

Camp started in August but at the start of September, Newman opt-ed out of the season, bringing us back to the first big question. It looked like Daniels would be the guy, but then D’Wan Mathis made strides and took most of the reps with the first team in the most recent scrimmage.

So now with just only one more Saturday between now and Georgia’s first game, it’s looking like Mathis has the edge to being Georgia’s starter. So we can finally answer that first big question being asked back in January, right?

Nope. Because there’s another substantial question that still lingers with the quarterback position. How healthy is Daniels and his surgically repaired knee?

Related: What we learned about Georgia’s current and future quarterbacks this weekend

Daniels tore his ACL on Aug. 31 2019, in USC’s season-opener against Fresno State. If that injury doesn’t happen, Daniels might not even be a Bulldog. But Kedon Sloivs took over and shined for the Trojans. Daniels entered the transfer portal in April and committed to Georgia at the end of May.

Prior to the start of fall camp, Smart shared an interesting update on Daniels’ recovery status with regards to the knee injury.

“JT Daniels is not cleared yet,” Smart said back on Aug. 16 He has been able to take some reps, he has been able to throw the ball and do some things, but he is not completely cleared from the knee yet. He will still be in a brace for that.”

Daniels had participated and worked with the first team in each of the first two scrimmages this month, while also sporting a noticeable knee brace. In the scrimmage this weekend, Daniels was limited to situational play — two-minute warnings, third-and-long, red zone — but was sporting a smaller knee brace according to those who saw the closed-door scrimmage.

It’s interesting to note that Daniels wasn’t reportedly working with the two’s in this past scrimmage either, as Carson Beck got those duties. With that being the case, it doesn’t appear that Georgia was trying to phase out Daniels from the offense.

It seems like the Bulldogs were trying to see what the quarterback situation might be like if Daniels isn’t cleared.

When Smart last spoke to the media on Sept. 5, he again reiterated that Daniels hadn’t been cleared to play in game-action yet but hoped that he might be by the time Georgia plays Arkansas.

“I am under the assumption that that is going to happen, but that is not my decision,” Smart said. “He is cleared to practice, which is unique for quarterbacks because they’re not out there getting hit every day—they’re non-contact.

“We expect him to be cleared by the first game, but that’s not a complete certainty.”

Related: Teammates, Kirby Smart discuss what JT Daniels will bring to Georgia football quarterback battle

If he’s still not cleared for game action, and we’ll expect to learn more from Smart when he speaks with the media this week, it certainly gives another answer as for Mathis’s seemingly sudden ascension to the starting job.

The upside with Mathis is obvious, as Aaron Murray alluded to this weekend. But he’s also never thrown a collegiate pass, while Daniels has 12 career starts under his belt. With Georgia playing Auburn, Tennessee and Alabama in the first four weeks of the season, that experience would seem to be a positive for Daniels.

If there’s still uncertainty about how his knee would hold up in a game against one of those top-25 teams, Daniels won’t play. Georgia will have to turn to someone else to quarterback the new-look offense. Right now that guy appears to be Mathis.

Related: Jermaine Burton turns heads at fall scrimmage

The big question at this point in time isn’t who will start against Arkansas. The Bulldogs should win that game regardless of who plays quarterback, given the massive talent gap between the two programs. Since 2017, Georgia has won three SEC East titles. Arkansas has won just one SEC game in that same time frame.

The biggest question when it comes to Georgia, its quarterback battle and offense as a whole now hinges on Daniels’ knee. Unlike who will be the starter or questions about eligibility, there isn’t certainty with knee injuries. Nick Chubb came back from a serious knee injury in less than a year. For someone like Malcolm Mitchell, it took a good bit longer.

Daniels may get cleared this week or the next, fulfilling Smart’s optimistic viewpoint. That would then shift back the focus to finding out the starter. Which still well be Mathis given the positive strides he’s made in the last two scrimmages.

But the longer this knee injury lingers and limits Daniels, the more uncertainty there will be about Georgia’s quarterback position.

There’s only one way to answer the questions surrounding Daniels at this point. It won’t be dictated by the coaching staff or the play on the field.

It will be Georgia’s doctors who clear things up at the quarterback position.

“I know Ron [Courson] feels confident that he’s far enough post-op, and he’s got enough strength in his leg to be in a good position—to be able to play, but that’s going to boil down to Ron and our doctors making that call,” Smart said.

More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation

Dawgs on Twitter

Good Dawg of the Day

We have a new way to comment on our DawgNation stories. To do so, you must be a registered user on the DawgNation forum. If you haven’t registered, please go to the Forum homepage on DawgNation and look for “register” on the right side.