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Georgia football instant observations after hammering South Carolina, 40-13

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091821 Athens: Georgia quarterback JT Daneils (left) and wide receiver Jermaine Burton (right) celebrate hooking up for a 43-yard touchdown reception for a 14-3 lead over South Carolina during the first quarter in a NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept 18, 2021, in Athens. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

ATHENS — Kirby Smart said during the week that JT Daniels would only play against South Carolina if he was 100 percent.

Safe to say, the Georgia junior quarterback was, as he started and threw a pass for the first time in a red Georgia jersey.

Daniels added another long touchdown pass to Adonai Mitchell, answering any questions about his arm strength after the Clemson game. He finished the game completing 23 of 31 passes for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Georgia quarterback also excelled at situational football. In the midst of an 11-play, 90-yard drive, Daniels fired passes to Mitchell twice and Kearis Jackson that picked up first-downs on third-and-long situations.

Then with just 19 seconds before the end of the first half, Daniels picked up 39 yards on 3 throws to get Georgia in field goal range and give the Bulldogs a 26-6 halftime lead.

Daniels’ status had been closely followed in the two weeks since the Clemson game. After his performance against South Carolina, it’s safe to say there’s not much to worry about regarding Georgia’s talented quarterback.

Curious quarterback call

Of course, Kirby Smart couldn’t help but still make a curious quarterback call. After Daniels led Georgia to touchdowns on the first two drives, Stetson Bennett entered the game at quarterback.

Bennett was the hero a week ago, throwing 5 touchdowns in a win for the Bulldogs. He didn’t have that same success this time around, as he was intercepted on his first attempt.

The turnover led to a South Carolina field goal, and the decision to insert Bennett could be seen as a replication of last week’s 2-1-2-1 plan, where Bennett played two series, and then Carson Beck entered the game.

But Bennett did not play another series in the first half, as Daniels resumed full control of the Georgia offense. Georgia did put Bennett back into the game with the Bulldogs up 40-13 in the fourth quarter. Beck did not play a snap for Georgia.

Perhaps Smart was trying to reward Bennett for his play last week. Or manage Daniels’ health. Either way, the move did not work.

Georgia defense leaky, but still dominant

The Georgia defense wasn’t perfect on Saturday. Wide receiver Josh Vann created problems for about every defensive back, as he finished with 3 receptions for 128 yards and South Carolina’s lone touchdown.

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NextRECAP: Georgia 40, South Carolina 13
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