Georgia football has two quarterbacks in JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett, who are proven winners.
Daniels earned the starting role last year after returning from a knee injury, and there has been no doubt that he is Georgia’s go-to quarterback. However, he has dealt with more injuries this year, causing him to miss the UAB, Arkansas and Auburn games.
When he missed time, Bennett stepped in and didn’t skip a beat. When he got his first start of the season against UAB, the senior went 10-of-12 for 288 yards and five touchdowns.
Daniels came back for the South Carolina game, where he went 23-of-31 for 303 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Bennett subbed in after him and went 1-of-3 for four yards and an interception.
That performance sparked some fans to question why he is the backup over Carson Beck, who also threw an interception in that game. The senior would show Dawg nation the next three games why he earned the backup spot over the redshirt freshman.
Bennett continued to work. Daniels started against Vanderbilt following the Carolina game, completing 9-of-10 passes for 129 yards and two scores. Since Georgia embarrassed the Commodores 62-0, Bennett also got plenty of playing time in this matchup. He went 11-of-15 for 157 yards, one score and had one interception.
Vandy was the last game Daniels played to give him some rest from that nagging injury.
Bennett has led the Dawgs to three straight wins and the No.1 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll.
On the season, he is 43-of-62 for 746 yards, eight touchdowns, two interceptions, completes 69% of his passes, averages 149.20 yards a game and has a rating of 206.55. Daniels completed 54-of-71 for 567 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions, completed 76% of his pass, averaged 189 yards a game, and has a rating of 160.74 in the three games he played started.
Both of them haven’t skipped a beat and produce similar numbers.
After the challenging Auburn game, it seems Bennett earned a lot of respect from the doubters out there. While he deserves respect, I don’t think he is trying to be the all-world hero that saved Georgia and led them to a national title — that would be awesome if he did, but it doesn’t seem to be his goal.
I’m not discrediting Bennett by any means, but Daniels is who can get the job done against a team like Alabama, Oklahoma or Iowa. However, Bennett’s performance in Jordan-Hare Stadium with a ruthless crowd like they have was impressive.
Georgia has a good problem on its hands because both of them can get the job done and win ball games. They both can lead and rally the team around them, and their teammates love both of them dearly.
In his Monday press conference before the Kentucky game, head coach Kirby Smart raved about Bennett and the confidence he continues to gain as the season progresses.
"Within this team, there’s a belief that Stetson is a really good football player and he’s a winner. He’s done nothing to show us otherwise in terms of his toughness, his competitive nature, the embracing of the offense, the embracing of the role to stay here and compete,” Smart said. “…He should be given kudos in managing and effectively managing the offense to no penalties…”That, to me, is incredible, but Stetson had something to do with that because he’s got to function, he’s got to manage. It’s not to say we didn’t have mistakes, we did, but it should give him confidence because he already had confidence in his ability to play. He played in a tough environment and handled it really well.”"
Bennett did handle a tough SEC road environment with ease, and even though he didn’t handle the Alabama game in Tuscaloosa last year this well, he has learned a lot since that game.
Daniels has the arm power and leadership qualities the Dawgs need to compete with the other explosive offenses across college football, but Bennett proves he can manage a game and do the same thing.
Both quarterbacks love the University of Georgia. Bennett grew up a Dawg, while Daniels eventually fell in love when he transferred into the program. Regardless, they know how important this job is — not just for the team but the communities and fans who identify with it.
One of the biggest differences in last year and this season with Bennett is his confidence that he can do this job and succeed. Daniels can do this job and win too.
However, the biggest difference is the coaching staff doesn’t just trust one of them. Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken both trust that Bennett or Daniels can go out there, execute a game plan, and come out of it victorious.
Daniels needs to be 100% before coming back and trying to go hard through the remainder of a demanding SEC schedule, so why not let Bennett continue to do his thing? Even though ESPN, CBS and every other network want to say there is a quarterback controversy in Athens, there isn’t.
There isn’t a controversy because Daniels and Bennett bring unique qualities to the field, and they both win. Their teammates don’t care who is back there as long as they can win the ball game.
It’s what makes this team so unique — they want to win, regardless of who plays where. There are no selfish players on Georgia’s football team, not one single one, and that is why using both Bennett and Daniels continues to work.
If Georgia needed Daniels to come in to win, Smart would make that call, and he would go into the game. However, a 100% Daniels is far better than a 75% one, so if Bennett can get the job done while his teammate heals, he seems happy to do so, and so does the rest of the team.
So the broadcasters can continue to write the quarterback controversy narrative all they want. Georgia isn’t listening, Bennett isn’t listening, and neither is Daniels. They know the plan and their duties on this team.
While it’s understandable, the more Bennett plays, the more of a connection he will build with the receivers and how it would be hard to break up a good thing when Daniels gets healthy. However, Daniels is still a leader even if he is hurt. He is on the sidelines, helping Bennett, talking to receivers, and being part of everything.
There won’t be any adjustment period when he returns because this team trusts both Bennett and Daniels. They know both men can lead the Dawgs to a national title. It does seem hard not buying into the controversy narrative, but if you look at the big picture and what this team is about, you’ll quickly see the truth.