With JT Daniels getting healthier by the day, head coach Kirby Smart left the door open that both he and Stetson Bennett could each see action the rest of the year.
In an interview with Chris Lowe of ESPN, Smart said that although that does not necessarily mean a quarterback change, getting Daniels back will at least give he and offensive coordinator Todd Monken an option.
“I’m not sure we know who the better one is based on which game plan we have,” Smart told Lowe. “There are teams we play that we have to be able to use the quarterback in the run game. Well, that’s Stetson. There are teams we play that you have to get the ball out quickly and be really accurate. That’s JT. But the first thing with JT is that he’s got to be healthy.”
Fortunately, Daniels appears to be doing just that and all signs point to him being ready for next week’s game against Florida.
Daniels has not played since the first quarter of Georgia’s win at Vanderbilt, which resulted in Bennett starting the past three contests against Arkansas, Auburn and Kentucky.
“JT practiced [Wednesday] and did about everything,” Smart told ESPN. “I thought [Wednesday] was the first time since Vanderbilt that I could have said, ‘Man, he looks like he could play.’ Now, he’s rusty, and [Thursday] will probably be the telltale practice because it will be the first time he’s gone back-to-back throwing after he threw a lot Wednesday.”
Smart told ESPN that the top-ranked Bulldogs would need both quarterbacks the rest of the way.
“I think the feeling in the outside world is that you can’t win it all [the national championship] without JT,” Smart said. “I don’t know or can’t say that’s accurate or not. I know there’s nothing that he’s shown that Stetson hasn’t shown us that leads us to believe that’s the case.”
Bennett has certainly earned the respect of his teammates.
On Wednesday, both linebacker Quay Walker and right tackle Warren McClendon talked about the confidence they have in Bennett.
“I’ll start by saying he knows his role. He pretty much understood that last year, but after practice, leading up to game week, it will be after practice, and I see Stetson still here,” Walker said. “By the time I get done watching film, he’ll still be in there watching film. He’s made a big jump from last year to this year. We’re real proud of Stetson.”
His recent statistics are proving Walker correct. Bennett’s last three games have seen him complete 35 of 52 passes for 553 yards and five touchdowns.
“Probably confidence,” said McClendon, when asked to give the biggest difference in Bennett between this year and last. “His confidence is there now and having him get the reps, that’s there now. We believe in him; we trust him.”
Smart dismissed the notion a healthy Daniels would result in any quarterback controversy.
“It would be a burden if they were both completely healthy and you had a problem,” said Smart. “Usually, when the quarterback problem comes is when you’re not productive on offense. We haven’t run into that. Now, we haven’t been blowing doors off, but we’ve scored and done a good job. The defense has set up scores. Special teams has set up scores, so it hasn’t shown itself as a problem. I think that would only happen if one of them were faltering.”