Okay, Georgia football fans, I know you’re all asking the same question — why didn’t head coach Kirby Smart put JT Daniels in against Alabama after Stetson Bennett’s pick-six?
I’m a huge Stetson Bennett fan and love his story, but at that point, you’re already down and struggling, so why not try something different?
In the best-case scenario, he gets the ball off a little bit quicker and Georgia might have been able to drive down the field faster. Worst case scenario, he comes out and gets sacked multiple times and everyone sees that Bennett’s mobility right now is key.
After some careful thought and consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes no sense. Maybe there is a reason for it, but one that many people haven’t thought of or considered.
Georgia football stuck with Bennett, but is it because they had to?
Maybe Daniels is simply not ready and healthy. Whether physical or mental, it seems Daniels is not ready to play in a full game.
Here are some things that, when we put together, make me believe this could be the reason:
- Daniels was open about his struggles with mental health before the season
- Daniels injured his oblique and then his lat
- After healing from these injuries, it seemed like he worked back into the rotation, with Bennett ultimately getting the start because of “continuity,” according to Smart.
- After that, nothing was said about Daniels starting
- Allegedly, Daniels had his trainer fly across the country two weeks ago to help him with his swing mechanics
- Daniels has yet to finish a game when he comes in to clean up. He plays two, maybe three drives, and then he’s done. Typically a backup will finish out.
- Kirby did not put him in the SEC Championship game
Adding to this, I noticed a really interesting interaction between Daniels and Bennett on the sideline after that pick-six. Bennett walked over frustrated, and Daniels coached him like he always does before waving him back towards the offense getting ready to go on the field.
There was no frustration or irritation on Daniels’ face, which has been there occasionally throughout the year after the offense has made mistakes.
He didn’t even make a move to go warm up. Instead, Daniels seemed calm and relaxed, like he knew what his role was and that was just to provide sideline support, never intended to go into the game. And I thought that before my family started discussing how odd the situation was after the game.
Which leads us back to our original question— why didn’t Smart play him?
Smart has pulled struggling quarterbacks before and did so more than once last year. So the only explanation that makes logical sense, especially considering the facts above, is that Daniels simply is not ready to go.
And if that’s the case, whether it’s his physical or mental health, it’s not our place as fans to know or question. But I do know one thing, you can guarantee that if something is wrong or he is struggling Kirby is not going to tell us. Because we do not need to know.
Daniels’ health status is his to keep private or share as he wishes. Regardless of whether he is on the field or on the sidelines, Daniels has still played a crucial role in this team’s success and will continue to do so going forward, whatever that looks like.
So as fans, let’s stop hating on our coach for making a decision we know nothing about and hating on our starting quarterback for not being the guy we wanted.
Remember how shocked everyone was when Chadwick Bozeman passed away from cancer unexpectedly and everyone started regretting their comments about his appearance?
I’m not saying this scenario is that serious. But you never know what someone is going through, and putting immense pressure on both quarterbacks to be something that they might not be able to be certainly isn’t helping. There’s always more to a situation than meets the eye and a little kindness and grace never hurt anyone.