ATHENS — Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters confirmed that, yes, Georgia football fans can believe their eyes, the offense has come alive with QB JT Daniels.
The No. 9-ranked Bulldogs (6-2) play the No. 25-ranked Tigers (5-3) at noon on Saturday in Columbia looking to take another step toward becoming the winningest class in school history.
The teams were originally supposed to play on Nov. 14, but Missouri canceled out on account of covid-related concerns.
Walters said the Bulldogs offense is “a lot different” than when Missouri was preparing for it a month ago following Georgia’s 44-28 debacle in Florida against the Gators.
The Bulldogs quarterbacks were a combined 9-of-29 passing for 112 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions that day, unable to come back in the second half despite holding Florida out of the end zone the final 30 minutes of the game.
Daniels, who transferred to UGA in May, went to Coach Kirby Smart’s office the day after the loss and told the head coach he was ready to play and he could run the offense.
Two weeks later, against Mississippi State, Daniels was 28-of-38 passing for 401 yards with 4 touchdowns in his UGA debut against Mississippi State.
Smart has been a tough critic, challenging Daniels to raise his game, but Walters sounds impressed by what he has seen.
“You can tell why (Daniels) was highly recruited and why he had the start to his college campaign that he did,” Walters told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He throws a great ball. You can tell he’s played a lot of football. He reads coverage.
“For only having played in two games he doesn’t really make a whole lot of mistakes — or has not made a whole lot of mistakes.”
Smart has indicated Daniels needs to work on his pocket presence and be willing to throw the ball sooner to avoid sacks.
But Smart also noted Daniels’ leadership and positive effect on the team.
Walters has taken note of the same thing in his film study.
“Seems like the receiving corps is reinvigorated and re-energized,” Walters said. “They got young guys that are really talented outside and he does a great job getting them the ball. It’s a lot different. They’re more balanced.”
Smart said earlier this week that being explosive is more important than being balanced, and he doesn’t really care how the Bulldogs go about it so long as they are scoring points.
Walters said UGA can get it done through the air or on the ground.
“They’re still very physical up front, got big powerful backs, a big athletic physical tight ends, and very talented,” Walters said. “Young but very talented on the outside.
“And now they’ve got a triggerman. The future bodes bright for their offense, for sure.”