ESPN’s SEC Nation analysts Jordan Rodgers, Tim Tebow debate Georgia’s starting quarterback

Georgia football-quarterback situation-jt daniels-stetson bennett
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett and JT Daniels have led Georgia to a 6-0 start this season.

ESPN SEC Nation Analysts Jordan Rodgers and Tim Tebow discussed whether Georgia head coach Kirby Smart should start JT Daniels or Stetson Bennett in the Bulldogs’ game against Florida at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Jacksonville (TV: CBS).

Daniels, who started for Georgia in its opener against Clemson, has been sidelined the last three games by a strained lat muscle. Bennett has been good in his relief, 35-of-52 passing for 552 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions in wins over Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky.

Rodgers, who led Vanderbilt to its first Top 25 finish since 1948 in 2012, advocated for Daniels, who is 3-0 in starts this season. Daniels is 7-0 as UGA’s starter dating back to the end of last season.

“It comes down to health first, right? If JT Daniels is healthy, it’s a no-brainer,” said Rodgers. “Georgia wants to win a national championship, right? Look back at the last quarterbacks to win a national championship. ... All first-round draft picks. All starting NFL quarterbacks. That’s not Stetson. Stetson has played well. Yes, he’s been efficient, but the game-changer, the talent, and I’m not saying JT is a first-round draft pick, but he has the ceiling to be that and that’s what Georgia will need, a game-changer at that position.”

Rodgers believes the offensive potential for No. 1-ranked Georgia (7-0, 5-0 SEC) is greater when Daniels is under center.

“You can win with Stetson Bennett,” Rodgers said. “In fact, because of this defense, sometimes you can win in spite of Stetson Bennett. But can you win because of Stetson Bennett? That’s the question and if you have national championship goals, you’ve got to answer that question now.”

Directly to Rodgers’ right on set sat former Florida quarterback Tebow, visibly against the opinion. The 2007 Heisman trophy winner rebutted by citing Bennett’s QBR, which is currently the third-highest in the nation.

Tebow also believes that Georgia did, in fact, partially win its games because of Stetson Bennett rather than with or in spite of him as Rodgers suggested.

“He does exactly what he needs to do,” said Tebow.

Tebow then touched on Bennett’s prowess running the football, something that Smart mentioned this week as valuable in his offense. Nine of Bennett’s 18 rushing attempts have resulted in first downs for the Bulldogs this season.

Fellow analyst and former Alabama safety Roman Harper chimed in on the conversation as well, also in favor of Bennett starting against Florida.

“They are playing differently under Stetson Bennett,” Harper said. “Not only that, but he can create with his legs, something that your boy JT Daniels cannot do. JT is a great quarterback and he has a great arm, but he has not shown anything that really separates him this year from Stetson Bennett and what they’re doing. So often, coaches and everybody on the outside gets in and we want to try and make up these reasons why this quarterbacks’ this,” said Harper.

“I was a part of a Super Bowl loss because our coaches were so smart that they started recreating the wheel right before we played the game and now you go out there and it just throws off little things. One person moving from another position to another. The next thing you know, you don’t execute on the largest stage in front of everybody and you come away walking away with a loss and not a game which you should have won.”

With Bennett expected to start in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party Saturday, time will soon tell who Georgia might assign its quarterback duties to for the rest of the season.

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