Georgia has national championship aspirations. They have the right combination of factors: a good coaching staff put in place by Kirby Smart, a loaded roster and the needed experience to be a true title contender.
Oh, and they also have a capable quarterback — a crucial component to winning it all. His name is JT Daniels, and he is now entering his second season in Athens.
Daniels originally played for USC but transferred to Georgia in 2020. His ongoing recovery from a knee injury at USC prevented any chance at a hot start with his new team, but Daniels sure made an impression during his four-game stint as the starter to close the season. Here are a few important statistical notes to take into account:
- 307.8 passing yards per game
- 67.2 completion percentage
- 10.3 yards per attempt
- 10 touchdowns to only two interceptions
If he keeps that pace over just 13 games, he will throw for over 4,000 yards, 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. That is the type of performance the Bulldogs hope they finally have at the quarterback spot.
Daniels did have some help though.
The pass-catching trio of George Pickens, Kearis Jackson and Jermaine Burton was tough to defend. All three players were either first- or second-year guys, but the development they showed was impressive.
If Georgia wants a shot at a national title, they’re going to need weapons in the passing game to help out their elite quarterback. Just think back to the last three champions.
In 2018, Trevor Lawrence had the Tee Higgins-Justyn Ross combination. Joe Burrow had an elite trio of his own in 2019 with Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall. And then Mac Jones and Alabama had Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, as well as John Metchie III and Jaylen Waddle.
With the possible season-ending injury to Pickens, Daniels is left without his assumed top option. That isn’t lost on him, but the signal caller believes in the other guys.
“Obviously, losing George (Pickens) doesn’t help you, losing an elite top receiver, but it’s a great team,” said Daniels recently, via Dawg Nation. “I think Coach Smart has done a great job of instilling a team standard and team DNA that a lot of guys have taken to.”
As for the other guys, it isn’t hard to see who is available. Even with the temporary loss of Burton and the awaited return of Demetris Robertson, the Bulldogs are expecting to have a top group this season.
“We have a loaded receiver room. It’s great to see some of the young guys, J-Rob (Justin Robinson), Jermaine (Burton) before the little knee thing, D-Rob (Robertson) has been stepping up, and Kearis (Jackson) is always Kearis.
“You have a lot of guys that are going to work their butts off to develop and produce any way they can.”
If Georgia is able to get plenty of production from those guys listed above — as well as a second-year leap from tight end Darnell Washington — this is a team worth taking seriously — even with past disappointments.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.