JT Daniels-Georgia football-UGA football
Georgia redshirt junior quarterback JT Daniels in action at the Duke's Mayo Classic on Sept. 4, 2021 at Bank of Americ Stadium in Charlotte, NC

Kirby Smart reveals what determines if JT Daniels starts against South Carolina

ATHENS — JT Daniels’ condition is improving, but Kirby Smart isn’t ready to make any decision on who will start at quarterback for Georgia on Saturday night.

‘The biggest question is how does he practice,” Smart said on Wednesday, asked about Daniels’ status. “It’s not about whether (how important it is that) he plays.

“Is he healthy to go out there and be 100 percent in practice so he has an opportunity to be as effective as he can? That’s a big rehab question.”

The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs (2-0) play host to South Carolina (2-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Sanford Stadium.

Daniels, who is dealing with a strained oblique that may have originated with an inadvertent hit he took in an Aug. 21 scrimmage, did not play in Georgia’s 56-7 victory over UAB last Saturday.

Fifth-year senior Stetson Bennett stepped up in Daniels’ place and turned in a 10-of-12 passing performance that netted 288 yards and a school-record 5 touchdown passes.

Smart was asked how important it was for Daniels to get back into the starting lineup, leading him to reveal that the decision will be based on how the incumbent performs in the Wednesday practice.

“I think he’s feeling much better, it’s whether or not he’s 100 percent throwing the ball down the field and in the pocket,” Smart said. “That’s the key ingredient there.”

Daniels could have played if needed again UAB, but Smart stressed that the sort of injury Daniels is dealing with requires rest. Another key for recovery is to avoid aggravating it.

Daniels is 5-0 as the Bulldogs’ starter, beating Top 10 teams Cincinnati and Clemson in his most recent two starts in the New Year’s Six Peach Bowl and the season-opening showdown in Charlotte, N.C.

Daniels was 22-of-30 passing for 136 yards with an interception in the Bulldogs’ 10-3 upset win over the Tigers.

Smart said on Tuesday night that Daniels and Bennett were “pushing back” from injuries, sharing for the first time that Bennett was dealing with a strained lower back.

Both quarterbacks, however, were taking reps.

Smart said redshirt freshman Carson Beck is also taking reps.

“I think Carson is 100 parent healthy,” Smart said.

Beck, in his first extended playing time last Saturday, struggled through a 4-of-10 passing performance that gained 88 yards and a TD through the air, but also, a Pick-6 interception.