ATHENS — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart isn’t ready to speculate on how he will handle the quarterback situation once JT Daniels returns to full health, per his comments on the SEC teleconference.
“We’re focused on getting ready for Kentucky, and focused on getting the guy ready to play, (and) I don’t think past that,” Smart said when asked if there would be a rotation, like there was in Week Three when both Daniels and Stetson Bennett were healthy against South Carolina.
“I can’t control any of those (rotation) things you are talking about,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get JT healthy and get him as healthy as possible.”
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The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC) play host to the No. 11-ranked Wildcats (6-0, 4-0) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sanford Stadium.
Smart said on Tuesday night that Daniels, who missed the past two games on account of astrained lat, has been limited by trainer Ron Courson but has made some progress.
Georgia has an open date on Oct. 23 leading many to believe Smart will hold out Daniels for Saturday’s game if possible. Smart said Daniels could have played if necessary against Auburn.
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But the Bulldogs found plenty of success with Bennett, so there was no need to use Daniels and risk re-aggravating his injury.
Georgia’s top-rated defense has provided some breathing room for the offense all season. The Bulldogs have been efficient running the ball and explosive passing at times.
Smart said quarterbacks’ experience in the offense and a strong running game has enabled Georgia to remain unbeaten despite the shuffle under center.
“We feel we have some good quarterbacks that have been in our system and that understand it,” Smart said. “They are all in Year Two and have had a lot of work. Last year at this time, there was no one that had been in the system for more than three months.
“So to be successful, you’ve got to have good quarterback and have good players around them,” he said “And we’ve been fortunate to do that and have a physical brand of football, which has helped us the last two games, especially.”
No doubt, Georgia has not fared well when trying to convert third downs when going to the air the past couple of games.
Third down passing is the biggest separator between Daniels and Bennett, statistically.
In SEC games this season:
• Daniels is 9-of-9 passing on third downs for 118 yards and 9 (-of-9) conversions for first down.
• Bennett is 8-of-14 passing on third downs for 43 yards and 2 (-of 14) conversions for first downs.
Bennett provides a bonus of having more mobility, however, and that has helped at times.
Smart said he’s generally pleased with both quarterbacks overall, however.
“I think they both have done a good job, I think depending on the game or the situation, they would be the first to tell you there are things they could improve on, they could execute better, make good decisions,” Smart said. “We’ve turned the ball over probably more than we have in the past.
“We’ve been explosive, which is important, and if you can be explosive without the risk of some of those turnovers and decisions I wish we had back, that would be more of what we want.”
Smart also indicated he’s encouraged by Daniels’ and Bennett’s knowledge of the playbook and the way the offense has come together.
“Those guys work really hard and do a good job of commanding the offense,” Smart said. “I think between the offensive staff, the offensive line, and the skill players, those quarterbacks have done a good job.”