The quarterback position for Georgia has been a whirlwind since the unexpected departure of Jake Fromm following last season. At varying points, fans, talking heads and others have thought four different players would be the starter.
First, it was grad transfer Jamie Newman from Wake Forest. Then it was another transfer JT Daniels. After seeing Newman opt out, D’Wan Mathis got into the mix and ended up starting Week 1. The redshirt freshman struggled in the first half against Arkansas, however, and the decision was made to turn to Stetson Bennett.
The former fourth-string quarterback turned in a solid performance to finish the game. He completed 20 of his 29 pass attempts (69 percent) for 211 yards and two scores. Bennett started the next three games, including this past weekend against No. 2 Alabama.
After Bennett completed only 45 percent of passes and threw three interceptions against the Crimson Tide, people are now starting to wonder whether Kirby Smart should entertain starting Daniels against Kentucky on October 31.
The USC transfer is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in 2019, and that has affected his ability to compete for the starting job. When asked about his progress, Smart made it known that Daniels was working towards being ready.
“JT is going out each day, working,” Smart said via the SEC Coaches Teleconference on Wednesday morning. “I think his mobility is getting better as time goes through, and he’s moving around.”
One of Bennett’s biggest issues was exploited by Alabama this past weekend. He is inconsistent and, for the most part, ineffective at long range. The Crimson Tide defense was set up to allow deep shots, but Georgia wasn’t able to capitalize.
This is a team that needs an effective and efficient offense. The defense cannot carry the water against other elite teams.
So, does Smart and company need to make the switch to Daniels? Well, that depends. If Bennett cannot push the deep ball consistently, the answer is yes. Opponents have also managed to bat down many of his passes at the line of scrimmage, which has limited the Bulldog offense considerably.
Daniels doesn’t possess top-tier arm strength, but he’s got enough to attack all levels of the field effectively. He also throws with enough accuracy and touch to make Todd Monken’s offense work.
Daniels could also resolve the issue of batted balls. Bennett stands at only 5-foot-11 while Daniels checks in four inches taller at 6-3. That height difference isn’t the only cause of the problem, but a few inches can help when a QB throws within the pocket.
As long as Daniels is healthy enough to be mobile in the pocket, the coaching staff should consider making the switch. Bennett is a fine option in most games when playing with a complementary run game and defense, but he struggles in games when he must try and counter-punch elite offenses.
This Georgia squad is good enough to compete for a College Football Playoff spot. They also could get a rematch against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19. But they need to make a few changes before they’re ready to get over the hump.
One of those changes might need to be a new QB.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.