This Saturday Georgia fans might be getting what they’ve been waiting for all season, and that’s to see USC transfer quarterback JT Daniels take the field against Missouri. Although, it all depends on the health of redshirt junior quarterback Stetson Bennett, who suffered a shoulder injury on Saturday in Florida’s 44-28 over Georgia.
He was injured on his 32-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to wide receiver Marcus-Rosemy Jacksaint. Bennett remained in the game until he was taken out in the third quarter after an interception. He was replaced by backup D’Wan Mathis, who threw one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.
Both Bennett and Mathis combined by completing nine of 29 passes for 112 yards and two interceptions with three interceptions.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said on Monday that Bennett is dealing with a right shoulder injury that will limit him in practice early this week.
“He’s day-to-day, right shoulder AC sprain like you mentioned,” Smart said. “So we don’t know. He’s going to be day-to-day. We don’t even know today. We’re going to find out today if he’s going to be able to go out there and throw. It’s one of those deals where we don’t even know how effective he’s going to be, whether he’s going to require another shot to do it.”
With Bennett being limited, that leaves the possibility of Daniels being able to play against Missouri. The fifth-year head coach did verify that Daniels will be competing with Mathis and freshman Carson Beck this week in practice.
“We’re going to get all three of those guys ready and the one that does the best job will be ready to play and if Stetson is ready to play and he does the best job,” Smart said. “The toughest thing for Stetson is he’s not going to be able to take a lot of reps early in the week but we do a ton of walkthrough today and a lot will be determined by Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice for us.”
Bennett left the game for one series in the first half but was back in at quarterback almost immediately. As the game progressed, Bennett failed to hit several open receivers downfield and didn’t look sharp at all. That’s when Mathis was finally brought in, but the redshirt freshman didn’t look much better.
Smart said on Monday that Daniels has become more comfortable without his knee brace.
“He’s going to get reps,” Smart said. “He’s going to get work because, again, we just talked about, Stetson, I don’t know if he’s going to be there or not. The great thing about JT is that he begged to go down to the scout team to get work when he wasn’t early on. He wanted to go down and compete and throw and get better against our defense. It’s not like he’s been sitting on the shelf not getting many throws. He’s been doing a lot of those.”
Daniels suffered a devastating injury last year in USC’s season opener against Fresno State. He was replaced by backup Kedon Slovis, who eventually won the starting job. Daniels decided to enter his name in the NCAA student-athlete transfer portal earlier this year and ended up at Georgia in May.
Smart said that Daniels voluntarily goes to work on the scout team sometimes.
“JT [Daniels] down on the scout team, like Stetson [Bennett] when he was down there before, sometimes you get to do things without risk and reward because your job down there is to get the ball in the air and throw the ball, service the team, get a look,” Smart said. “He’s not down there all of the time. We have [Nathan] Priestley and Jackson Muschamp that do a good job as well. JT likes to go down there and compete and throw some—so he spends time with our offense.
He’s in all of the meetings with our offense. He goes down there and throws every now and then. JT’s got a good arm, there’s no doubt about that. It’s one of the deals that he is getting better and better every day with mobility. You feel good that he is able to move around and do some things down there with us. Again, he’s going to get some reps with Stetson out, and we’ll find out where he is.”
Smart was specifically asked about Bennett’s availability this weekend if he was completely healthy.
“That is a great question—great question—only to be answered by the end of the week. Great question, Mark,” Smart said in good humor.
Here is the video from Smart’s Monday press conference: