ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart indicated that USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels is off to a good start this week in practice after getting cleared to play against Auburn.
“He’s doing a good job, he’s out there working,” Smart said following Tuesday night’s practice. “For us, it’s not really different than it was before. He was practicing before. He’s just practicing more now.”
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (1-0) play host to No. 7 Auburn (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday between the hedges. ESPN College GameDay will be at Sanford Stadium leading up to the Top 10 showdown.
Tigers coach Gus Malzahn, who rankled Smart with comments about the Bulldogs abundance of talent, didn’t have much to say about Daniels at his press conference.
“He’s talented,” Malzahn said. “That’s probably the best way to put it. We just know he’s talented.”
Indeed, Daniels was the No. 3-rated quarterback in the 2018 signing class behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
The redshirt sophomore had three 300-yard passing games as a true freshman on a 5-6 USC team despite the Trojans’ porous offensive line and three play callers taking a turn that 2018 season.
Daniels suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter of the opening game of the 2019 season against Fresno State and underwent surgery the next day. Later, in January, Daniels had an arthroscopic “clean-up” procedure performed to remove scar tissue and has been in a knee brace every since.
Daniels has yet to meet with the media in Athens or do any interviews, but Smart described him as a nice young man.
“He’s an extremely bright kid, he’s delightful to be around, very intellectual,” Smart said. “He asks a lot of questions. He digs deep into the game. The game is really important to him. He is fun to be around.
“He gets the ball out really quick. He’s got a quick release and great arm-talent.”
Smart said the Bulldogs have an ongoing quarterback competition and he will evaluate the position throughout the week.
Redshirt junior Stetson Bennett put on a show at Arkansas, completing 20 of 29 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgia also features talented redshirt freshman D’Wan Mathis and true freshman Carson Beck.
Mathis started against Arkansas but was pulled in the second quarter after failing to generate any scoring drives on the Bulldogs’ first six possessions.
Smart re-entered Mathis in the fourth quarter and said after the game he continues to have great confidence in him, pointing out that penalties and missed assignments had much to do with the offense’s early struggles.