ATHENS — The 2020 Georgia football season will be remembered in two segments: Before JT Daniels, and after JT Daniels.
It’s really that simple when one looks at the statistics and measures the confidence and anticipation in the fanbase.
The Bulldogs are averaging more than 40 points and nearly 500 yards of offense with Daniels at quarterback and converting on third down at a 67-percent clip.
The Daniels’ effect is why what might normally be considered a consolation game — albeit, an elite one in the form of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl — has UGA as excited as unbeaten Cincinnati.
Here are 10 things that were said about Daniels in the press conferences leading up to the noon game on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
1. Todd Monken on the process of Daniels getting on the field:
“Obviously you can’t give everybody reps. What he did is continued to work and compete. When his opportunity came, he took advantage of it. Obviously, there’s a number of things … that I will look back on and think I would have done, should have, could have, would have maybe done differently. There’s no sense in looking back on that.
“The moment JT played and prepared, it was time to move forward. I think he’s done a great job not only for his opportunity but since then.”
2. Warren Ericson on team mood with Daniels at QB:
“I mean, yeah, this has been truly exciting, ups and downs. We had some great games. When JT has been in, we had great games. It’s just the competitive aspect that we want to continue to play really hard, really physical, put numbers up on the board, running the ball, passing the ball. We just want to dominate everything we can.”
3. Jamaree Salyer shares JT Daniels’ anecdote
“ I think it was his first game, Mississippi State. One of their blitzers got through. He got hit pretty hard…. I was like, Wow, this kid just took his first hit.
“Is he going to lay on the ground, be broken? He got up, (says) ‘Hit me again.’ He told the defender to ‘Hit me again.’ I think he threw a touchdown on that play, too (smiling). I think he had a reason to say that. But yeah, he was pretty jacked up. I was, Okay, cool, we got a tough kid. We don’t always get the toughest guy coming in, but that guy is tough. That guy is tough. He got up off the ground, kept throwing the ball, threw it and threw it, and threw it for 400. Yeah, he’s tough.”
4. JT Daniels on how much extra freedom he has for bowl game.
“I wouldn’t say there’s too much extra in terms of freedom. It was something that instantly Coach Monken had told me on my first call that made me want to come here, is that you don’t have to develop the ability to do that. We want quarterbacks that can play the game, get us in the right play before the play is snapped.
“Every quarterback here since the offense was installed, we have the ability to check something or if we’re in a certain play and there’s something stopping that play, get us in the right play, It’s always been there.”
5. Kearis Jackson on how things have changed with JT Daniels at QB
“We’ve been more efficient. We’ve been able to stay on the field, convert on third downs, make big plays when we needed. Just continue to stay on the field and move the ball.
“It brings a lot of confidence to us as a unit on offense knowing we can throw the ball downfield if we need to. Just knowing we have a quarterback who is reliable to throw the ball downfield. We have great receivers on the outside and within the slot that can run past guys.”
6. Warren Ericson on JT Daniels’ approach to football
“Coach Monk will be up there looking at the board. It will be, like, ‘JT, what do you think on this play?’ JT will go through and give us seven individual things that he can see and change up. He’s so methodical about the things he does. He thinks out so much.
“His football mind is just off the charts. I would say that’s it. He’s calm, cool, collected. He’s one of those guys that he’s going to know exactly where to put the ball if any situation comes up.”
7. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman on JT Daniels:
“JT brings a different dynamic to their offense. You can tell by over the last three games, they’re averaging over 40 points a game. He’s got a very strong arm, probably the strongest arm probably in my time being the defensive coordinator here that we’ve faced.
“We know it will be a huge challenge. Being able to go back and not only watch him these past three games, but even watch some USC film, you just see it, he’s a dynamic quarterback with an extremely strong arm that understands defense.”
8. Jamaree Salyer on JT Daniels’ football IQ
“Like Warren said, he’s like a textbook when it comes to coverages, what we do on this play, that play. When you hear him spit it out, it’s crazy, he’s like Google or something. He has a different level of confidence. We’re really happy to have him.”
9. Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell’s initial impression of JT Daniels:
“I know he can spin it. He’s got some great weapons. I still don’t think he’s unleashed all he can do. When you run the ball, you got as good an offensive line as they have, you don’t have to kind of sit your quarterback back there and do all those different things.”
10.Todd Monken sums up coaching JT Daniels and who he is:
“He’s a sponge. He loves to be coached, loves to have the answers, which is a huge start at the quarterback position. There’s a lot of things you can do with JT that you can keep it as quarterback control because he’s going to study the film, he’s going to want to know the answer. You don’t have to tell him everything. You don’t have to look to the sideline and change the play. He can do that on his own. He embraces that challenge of being in control. That is stuff to being an NFL quarterback, the quarterback being in control. It’s been great. From the get-go it was. The amount of work that JT is willing to put in to be the player he wants to be. Very few people have a love of the process of playing the game of football like JT does.”