ATHENS — Georgia football hopes to find its quarterback of the future in the form of USC redshirt sophomore transfer JT Daniels in its 7:30 p.m. game with Mississippi State on Saturday night.
UGA QB legend Eric Zeier concedes if Daniels plays well, there could be second guessing.
“Is there a chance for fans to look back and say he should have been going from Day One? Sure, that sentiment will probably be out there,” Zeier said on the Bulldogs Live podcast. “But one thing to keep in mind …. JT was coming off a pretty horrific knee injury.
“When you have an injury like that, it affects the way you move and throw the football. Getting cleared, you may not be in a position where you’re in football shape, with not being able to go through spring and an offseason with oversight.”
Daniels suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right leg — his plant leg — in USC’s 2019 season-opening game against Fresno State on Aug. 19. In January, he underwent a surgical procedure to clean-up scar tissue in the knee.
Coach Kirby Smart said in August that UGA expected Daniels to be cleared for the opening game. When that didn’t happen, Smart went with D’Wan Mathis and Stetson Bennett, and Daniels was working primarily with the scout team until after the 44-28 loss in Florida on Nov. 7.
Zeier says Daniels looks a lot better throwing the ball recently than he did at the start of the season, and he should get a long look against the Maroon Bulldogs.
“With JT Daniels, I think you get him in, give him enough rope so he can shrug off any rust that’s out there,” said Zeier, who was the SEC’s all-time leading passer at the conclusion of his Georgia career in 1995. “But outside of that, this needs to be an open competition, because we’ve got to find a guy to lead this team.”
Zeier noted that freshman Carson Beck hasn’t been talked about much, but he should continue to get a look, and Smart needs to be ready to keep the competition open if Daniels struggles.
“If he does struggle and doesn’t provide the spark that you need,” Zeier said, “I think that competition remains wide open.”
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