101621 Athens: Georgia head coach Kirby Smart coaches up his defensive players each game, but he also has control over the quarterbacks' room. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Kirby Smart vague on Georgia quarterback situation, declines to name starter for Missouri

ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart declined to clear up the Bulldogs’ quarterback situation on his Tuesday night Zoom call with reporters.

Smart, whose undefeated Bulldogs debuted No. 1 in the first batch of College Football Playoff rankings, has no issue managing a two-quarterback system.

“Quarterbacks have looked great, they’ve both done a tremendous job, really pleased with where they’re at,” Smart said when asked how they have looked in practice on Monday and Tuesday.

Stetson Bennett has started the past four games with JT Daniels recovering from a strained lat injury, though Smart said the latter could have played if necessary last Saturday against Florida.

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Smart was asked directly if Bennett would start in the noon game against Missouri on Saturday, and if Daniels needed to shake off “rust” after not playing since leading UGA to a 35-0 first quarter lead at Vanderbilt on Sept. 25.

“I think it’s important for both of them to continue to develop and make good decisions, (because) part of playing quarterback is accuracy, decision making and mobility,” Smart said. “Those things are the critical factors.

“Anybody can hand it off, we all know that, and anybody can make our run checks and decisions,” Smart said.

“But It’s the decision when the ball is in your hands and you’re having to make a decision with where you’re going with it, where you’re throwing it, all those things are the deciding factors. I’m pleased with where both of them are, and I think both of them are doing a great job.

Bennett is coming off a 10-of-19 passing performance that saw him get 161 yards through the air with a touchdown and two interceptions in the 34-7 win over the Gators.

Smart was asked why he didn’t play Daniels in the second half against Florida.

The Bulldogs’ defense triggered three turnovers the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half that led to a 24-0 lead.

“There was nothing that kept him (out),” Smart said. “Every game we talk on the headphones, we have a two-hour meeting before the game and go through how we plan to play the players.

“It used to be about redshirts and how many reps guys would get and how guys would play. It’s really more about situational, If this guy gets hurt, who’s going in ....

Smart said another discussion takes place in-game, with the scoreboard and other factors coming into consideration.

“In the game there is another discussion of when is the game out of hand, and how are we playing the team,” Smart said. “A lot of times, if you’re playing to run the clock out, it’s not necessarily beneficial to get a guy in and hand the ball off.”

Smart said there are other times the team is still trying to score.

“You go back to whatever game it was (UAB), Carson Beck was throwing the ball, we’re trying to throw him and get him better when we got the pick 6,” Smart said. “Every game is different, and we make the decision based on what’s best for the team.”

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