UGA football QB JT Daniels starts against Mississippi State

by 24USATVNov. 22, 2020, 7 a.m. 19
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JT Daniels, last seen in a college football game on Aug. 31, 2019 on the other side of the country, started Saturday night’s home game against Mississippi State.

He was widely expected to start after working with the first team in practice. He took snaps from starting center Trey Hill in warm-ups and went first later when the QBs went through pregame.

"I think everybody knows who the starting quarterback is going to be," coach Kirby Smart told UGA radio’s Chuck Dowdle.

Smart said he was excited to see him play.

Daniels completed a shot pass to George Pickens that went for 27 yards, but the Bulldogs punted after he was sacked.

The Southern Cal transfer replaced Stetson Bennett, who threw six interceptions in the last three games and sustained a sprained shoulder two weeks ago against Florida.

Daniels became the third quarterback to start this season for the No. 11 Bulldogs after D’Wan Mathis started against Arkansas in the opener before being pulled more than 10 minutes into the second quarter.

Daniels entered the season with the most experience of Georgia’s four scholarship quarterbacks after presumed frontrunner, Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman opted, out in the second week of the preseason.

"Obviously he’s an extremely talented young man whose got some special arm ability," Mississippi State defensive coordinator Zach Arnett told reporters Thursday. "So if he is the guy back there it will certainly be a heck of a challenge."

Daniels started for USC as a true freshman in 2018. The redshirt sophomore from Irvine, Calif. native was a five-star prospect who threw for 2,672 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions two years ago.

He sustained a torn ACL in the first half of the season opener last year against Fresno State when he went 25 of 34 for 215 yards with a touchdown and interception. Daniels underwent a follow-up surgery on the knee by January.

Smart said Daniels maturity and experience stand out to him.

"He’s prepared each and every week like he’s going to play," Smart said Thursday on 680 AM. "That’s the good thing as a quarterback, you never know."

As for what he brings to the table, Smart said Daniels "has a really nice release. He can get the ball out quickly in his decision-making process. He throws a good ball."

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