Georgia’s starting quarterback situation has been a topic of conversation for a majority of the offseason, and today it got even more interesting.
During his Monday press conference, head coach Kirby Smart announced that redshirt sophomore quarterback JT Daniels is cleared to play against Auburn on Saturday. Although, he wasn’t announced as the starter because he will have to compete for the position this week in practice.
“JT will be cleared but I don’t know how much that changes the picture in terms of reps and development,” Smart said. “We’ll be looking at everybody across the board. JT’s got to be able to show us that he can function efficiently and do it with his knee being able to do it. We always thought he’d be cleared by this time anyway but those guys will all compete as well as Carson (Beck) will, too.”
In his opening statement, Smart commented on the starting quarterback position before reporters could even ask.
“I know you guys will want to ask the quarterback question, and you will want to ask it all week,” he continued. “All I can tell you is that we are going to continue to work with all the guys we’ve got to put the best guy in there to give us the best opportunity to win the football games.”
Smart then talked about redshirt freshman D’wan Mathis and his performance against Arkansas.
“D’Wan (Mathis) did not play as bad as it seemed to some,” Smart said. “I thought he did some good things watching the tape, and he had some unfortunate bad breaks that happened while he was in a quarterback.”
Mathis started and played the first six drives against Arkansas this past Saturday. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get anything going on offense, and that’s when Smart turned to fourth-year junior Stetson Bennett in relief.
It’s going to be interesting to see who wins the starting job this week. Bennett played really well under the conditions, but this will be against a much better Auburn defense. Right now, it looks like the top three options are Bennett, Daniels or Mathis (in no specific order).
Daniels hasn’t played in over a year and has been healing from an ACL tear that he suffered last season while at USC. That injury occurred in the season opener against Fresno State last September. Smart said a few weeks ago that Daniels had a second procedure done on his knee in December or January. He did make the trip this past weekend and dressed, but didn’t play because he wasn’t cleared yet.
“Well, Ron (Courson) would have to explain that in depth,” Smart said when asked about what hurdles Daniels had to overcome medically. “You are looking for percentage, strength index, biodex, testing, girth, his knee being closer to the same size as the other one. They do a single-leg hop test, they measure his ability to move around on that knee compared to his other knee, and they have been looking for certain barometers to be able to hit that number, and he was able to do that.
That’s very fortunate for him, but he still has to be able to go out there and prove to us that he can do it in the game-like situations and the practice-like situations. That’s not easy to do during the week at times.”
Here is the video from Smart’s presser: