From little league ball to the AFC and NFC Championship games yesterday, there is a common thread that weaves through the tapestry of success in modern football. That thread is the possession of an elite quarterback. Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes certainly added further evidence to the case of needing to have a signal caller that can perform at the highest level, in the most pressure packed situations in order to win a championship. Of course, we all know college football is no different, and the quarterback position is one that has plagued the Georgia Bulldogs in their drought of national championships since 1980.
See, in the heyday of Vince Dooley, a transcendent athlete at the running back position, paired with a stingy defense was enough to win football games. Of course, Georgia was in great shape there with Herschel Walker (who still looks like he could carry the ball 30 times a game) and the Junkyard Dawg Defense. In the era of the College Football Playoff, a quarterback that can outwit, out athlete, and out-execute the opposing defense is the straw that stirs the drink in championship cocktails. Just look at the names of Mac Jones, Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa, DeShaun Watson, Jake Coker, and Cardale Jones. All but the last two, and those were the earliest in the CFP, are transcendent, household name type players and successful pro quarterbacks as well. When is the last time Georgia has had one of those? I’ll wait.
Of course, David Greene and Aaron Murray displayed greatness at times under Mark Richt and Mike Bobo, but those 2 overachieved for the most part. Neither panned out at the pro level. Arguably the most talented Georgia QB ever, Matthew Stafford, has been incredibly productive in the NFL ranks. However, as with Georgia, Stafford has never been able to get the Detroit Lions over the hump and is now parting with the franchise. Jake Fromm had elite characteristics of guts, accuracy, and leadership early on in his Georgia career, but there is no denying that as his supporting case moved on to the pros, those traits for Fromm dwindled. No, Georgia came into the 2020 season still searching for ‘that guy’.
The good news for the Georgia faithful is, the Dawgs seem to have a proven commodity on their hands in JT Daniels. The pedigree is there as Daniels was a 5-Star prospect out of one of the best high school programs in the country and started as a freshman at USC. Also, Daniels has done nothing but win thus far in his 4 games as the starter at UGA, including a nice, come from behind victory over a tough Cincinnati squad in the Peach Bowl. In the last 4 contests of the 2020 season for the Dawgs, Daniels displayed the poise, the arm talent, and the competitiveness necessary to win a championship.
All the pieces are in place around the returning redshirt junior as well. Three-fifths of the offensive line comes back and Georgia is as deep as they’ve ever been at running back, receiver, and tight end. Georgia also has what seems to be an elite prospect in the making in Brock Vandagriff to sit under the learning tree behind Daniels this year. So, on paper, Georgia should be in great shape to contend for titles for years to come. Now, it’s up to Daniels and Vandagriff to live up to the hype going forward, and it’s up to Kirby Smart and Todd Monken to continue the trend of unleashing the offense and designing big plays opportunities as they did for all of the 2020 season. The difference now is, there is a true superstar at the quarterback position at the helm, and likely one waiting in the wings. The time is now, the window is open for the Dawgs, and after 40 years of not having a legitimate, heart-stopping threat to defenses at the position, the situation at hand must be taken advantage of.