Kirby Smart updates the latest on quarterbacks JT Daniels, D’Wan Mathis ahead of Arkansas opener

Georgia quarterback D'Wan Mathis (2) during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Photo by Tony Walsh)

For those expecting Kirby Smart to come out and publicly declare who Georgia’s starting quarterback would be for this Saturday’s game against Arkansas, sorry to disappoint you.

Smart once again kept the quarterback decision close to the visit. When speaking about the position he made sure to speak in general terms and rarely went into specifics.

“I am excited about the guys who have competed. They have all done a good job,” Smart said. “They have all taken reps. Stetson [Bennett], Carson [Beck], JT [Daniels] and D’Wan [Mathis] have all done a good job, and I am excited to see those guys go out and play.”

The two front-runners for the starting job when Georgia kicks off against Arkansas at 4 p.m. are Daniels and Mathis. Daniels though has not yet been cleared to play after it was learned he had a second knee procedure in January following a torn ACL he suffered in August of 2019.

Smart kept his optimism view on Daniels’ availability for the game when asked about it.

“We hope JT will be cleared by Saturday, officially,” Smart said. 

Related: Kirby Smart explains why JT Daniels can practice but isn’t yet cleared for Arkansas game

In the event that Daniels isn’t ready to go, the job will turn to Mathis. The redshirt freshman quarterback has had his own off-field adversity to overcome, as he had brain surgery in May of 2019. That surgery kept him out for the entire 2019 season.

But after Jamie Newman opted-out of the 2020 season, Mathis saw an increase in reps with the first team. With Daniels limited, Mathis got most of those first-team reps in Georgia’s final scrimmage on Sept. 12.

“I know this offseason we took it extra serious about getting the extra throws in, getting that chemistry right,” Georgia wide receiver Kearis Jackson said. “This offseason, all the quarterbacks threw well, but D’Wan’s speed and stuff is very special for him to be able to have an arm and the speed as well. He will be a weapon.”

Related: D’Wan ‘The Miracle’ Mathis, a Georgia football comeback story like no other

Smart added some more details on what he’s seen out of Mathis in this difficult offseason.

“D’Wan [Mathis] has done a great job,” Smart said. “He has embraced every opportunity. He’s competed, he’s gotten better.  He is very talented with his feet.”

Whoever gets the start will be doing so in a new offense for Georgia, as Todd Monken takes over as the team’s offensive coordinator. The Bulldogs will get their first crack at showing what the offense and quarterback will look like on Saturday against new Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman. The Razorbacks also have a familiar face on the defensive side of the ball in former Missouri coach Barry Odom.

Kirby Smart updates quarterback battle between JT Daniels, D’Wan Mathis

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