ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has not named a starting quarterback for the Mississippi State game, but he has made it clear over the past two weeks that JT Daniels is impressing.
Daniels, who has been reported as the expected starting QB for more than a week, has continued taking the reps with the first team this week with the battle of Bulldogs fast approaching at Sanford Stadium (TV: 7:30 p.m. SEC Network).
“JT, he’s done some nice things,” Smart said on the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday. “He’s a guy that has worked really hard—just as Stetson [Bennett], Carson [Beck], and D’Wan [Mathis] have done. I am pleased with the way he has worked. I am pleased with the way he has rehabbed his knee and improved his knee, and the learning of our offense.
“The leadership he has shown since he arrived has been very good. When you are in a room with guys without a lot of experience—he’s a guy that has some experience.”
Leadership is a buzz word for Smart at the quarterback position, as the head coach has talked about how that goes a long way in helping to ignite a team.
The Georgia pass game has been in rough shape since halftime of the Alabama game, when the Bulldogs took a 24-20 lead into the locker room in Tuscaloosa against the No. 1-ranked Tide.
Alabama shut out Georgia in the second half en route to the 41-24 win, and the pass game has sputtered ever since.
Starter Stetson Bennett got the Bulldogs off to a 14-0 lead in Florida against the Gators on Nov. 7, but Bennett took a hit on his throwing shoulder 3 1/2 minutes into the game and suffered a sprained AC joint.
Daniels, who has worked to overcome the torn ACL and meniscus he suffered in his knee in USC’s 2019 season-opening game, has impressed in practices.
It has led many to hope that the Georgia offense, with former NFL guru Todd Monken, can show some of the explosive traits Smart has been seeking.
“It (explosive offense) happens by execution, right? It happens by picking up blitzes and hitting open receivers,” Smart said. “It happens by blocking downfield and making explosive runs. We finally had an explosive run where we got on the perimeter and made some things happen.
“Explosive plays happen—well you can say they happen by lack of execution by the other team or by proper execution of your team. We’ve been really close on some explosives that we have missed or dropped. Those are things you have to hit and have to be accurate to do that.”
Smart said it doesn’t matter how much he talks about it, the players will ultimately be the ones to change the trend.
“I can’t wish myself into an explosive offense, we have to work ourselves into that,” Smart said after the loss in Florida . “We’ve got to execute our offense and complete more passes, be more accurate.
“We’ve got to get guys open, but when we do we’ve got to hit them.”
Georgia grad release
Per a University of Georgia press release the school’s student-athletes had a record 87% graduation rate, according to the NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) released Tuesday.
“The record-setting rate is up from 84% recorded in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 rates are for freshmen entering in fall 2013 and the four-year cohort of the 2010-2013 freshmen (transfers are placed in a freshman cohort).
“This is a great tribute to the outstanding work being done by our 500 student-athletes,” said UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “But it also demonstrates the remarkable work that has been done by our entire academic support staff under the direction of current Deputy Athletic Director Magdi El Shahawy and former Deputy Athletic Director Ted White. The counselors, tutors, and student services staff spend countless hours every day, week, and month providing support and direction for our student-athletes. It’s truly a team effort.”
Five Georgia teams scored a perfect 100 on the GSR report: women’s golf, gymnastics, women’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis, and volleyball. Scores went up in seven sports, remained the same in six sports, and three sports recorded slight reductions.”