JT Daniels completely erased all doubt of a quarterback competition with his performance against South Carolina after missing the UAB game with an oblique injury. Now, he’s embraced his role as a California kid leading an SEC team in pursuit of a national championship.
Just a year ago, Daniels still was not medically cleared coming off an ACL injury he suffered at USC. He had to wait until November to make his first start at Georgia but has taken the Bulldogs’ offense to new levels. Now, he’s worked on his job as a leader on and off of the field.
“I think when I look back, I see a lot of growth on my part,” said Daniels on Wednesday. “Significantly in terms of my leadership, my ability to develop connections with the whole team, I’ve gotten a lot better with that. I think I have gotten significantly better in terms of understanding the game of football, and it helps coming to a new league. It is very different schematically, offensively, and defensively.”
That leadership has helped Georgia’s offense transform into one of the best in the country, and perhaps the best of the Kirby Smart-era in Athens. Daniels’ chemistry with receivers has been on point throughout the two games that he has started, most noticeably on third down.
“A lot of third down is a lot of pure drop back passing, something that I have always prided myself with and something that I am always looking to improve on being the type of quarterback that I am,” said Daniels. “Drop back passing has to be a significant attribute of mine. So, third down passing for me is an indicator of how well I am doing and how well our offense is doing in terms of execution and the drop back passing game.”
Daniels has been extremely accurate with his throws this year, even with the way Georgia has been able to spead the ball out with explosive plays in the passing game. His 85.6 average quarterback-rating ranks fifth best in the country and his 73.8% completion percentage is a career best.
His teammates are also starting to recognize what he brings to the team in terms of confidence and leadership in addition to his arm talent.
“He’s a leader,” said junior running back Kenny McIntosh on Daniels. “Tells us what we have to get done in the huddle, lets us know all of our assignments. He lets us know to go out there and play as hard as we can and be prepared. He’s that type of guy to carry the team in any way he wants to. He’s a great leader and he plays that real well.”
Now Daniels will look to continue his rapport with his current group while also getting some of his top weapons back from injury. The Bulldogs are loaded and playing well at nearly every position, which is why Daniels will naturally stand out as the face of Georgia’s program as the quarterback and leader of the offense.