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What the 2018 Florida game tells us about Georgia’s current quarterback situation
This is not the first time that Kirby Smart has spent the off week fielding questions about the quarterback situation. Nor is it the first time he’s entered the week coming off a loss to an SEC West foe, and dealing with his quarterback playing the worst game of his season to that point.
To top it all off, the starter was a member of Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class. And the back-up quarterback, the one so many fans and national media types want to see, was a 5-star signee in the 2018 recruiting cycle.
In 2018, it was Jake Fromm and Justin Fields dominating the off-week headlines. This season, it’s Stetson Bennett and JT Daniels. The 2018 loss was on the road against LSU. This season, it was a road defeat to Alabama.
And now, there is an off week to deal with the fallout and figure out the quarterback situation for the rest of the regular season.
The more things change at Georgia, the more they seem to stay the same.
Smart started his press conference this week answering a question about Daniels and where he stood with his health. He then ended his Wednesday teleconference once again speaking about Daniels.
“JT [Daniels] is going out each day and working. His mobility is getting better as time goes through,” Smart said. “He is moving around and taking a lot of reps and growing. He is competing just like D’Wan [Mathis] and Carson [Beck] is.”
Related: Kirby Smart on JT Daniels: ‘His mobility is getting better’
Want to know what Smart said of Fields during that same off week in 2018? It’s strikingly similar to some of the talk around Daniels.
“Justin’s growing,” Smart said of Fields during the off week. “He’s getting better each and every day. I think his maturity is getting better. In the meeting room, he’s picking things up, he’s developing. He’s certainly eager to get that opportunity. He continues to progress and do things in practice and get his opportunity in the games.”
In between his comments on Daniels this week, Smart also talked about Bennett.
“I feel great about Stetson. He’s done a good job of managing the situations we have put him in,” Smart of his current quarterback. “He made a couple of bad decisions… We’ve got to continue to improve on that. Everybody around him has to continue to improve.”
As for Fromm, Smart used similar rhetoric of when he was talking about Bennett and how the team played coming off the loss.
“Could (Fromm) have played better? Sure, he could have played better,” Smart said of Fromm during that same week, one in which Georgia was coming off a loss. “A lot of people could have played better. A lot of people could have coached better, too. But that’s over with. We’ve moved on to Florida and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Due to a schedule change, Georgia now plays Kentucky coming out of the off week. The Fromm-Fields debate also some different layers and complexities to it than Bennett-Daniels. Fromm had led Georgia to the national title game the year before, while Fields was an uber-athlete and even higher-rated prospect than Daniels was in that 2018 class.
As for Bennett, the Alabama game was his third career start and fourth career game as Georgia’s QB1. And Daniels is coming off a serious knee injury that he’s still recovering from. Daniels wasn’t cleared until after the Bulldogs’ season-opening game against Arkansas.
In the 2018 loss against LSU, Fromm completed 16 of his 34 passes for 209 yards. He threw two interceptions in the game to just one touchdown and Georgia lost 36-16. Fields played in that game, but he threw no passes and ran for three yards on a single carry.
Bennett took all the snaps for Georgia in the Alabama game. He completed 18 of his 40 pass attempts for 269 yards. He threw three interceptions to two touchdowns. Daniels didn’t play at all, as he’s yet to play in a game this season for Georgia.
“It’s easy to sit back and second-guess and say this and that, but at the end of the day we have to make good decisions, and we’ve got to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win,” Smart said of Fields and Fromm after the LSU game.