The quarterback conundrum for top-ranked Georgia may not be a conundrum at all. Despite not having JT Daniels for part of the first half of the season due to core and lat injuries, the Bulldogs have dominated like no other team in college football while getting solid play out of Stetson Bennett IV. Moving forward, coach Kirby Smart said that both quarterbacks will play depending on the game plan -- once Daniels is healthy enough, that is.
"I'm not sure we know who the better one is based on which game plan we have," Smart told ESPN's Chris Low. "There are teams we play that we have to be able to use the quarterback in the run game. Well, that's Stetson. There are teams we play that you have to get the ball out quickly and be really accurate. That's JT. But the first thing with JT is that he's got to be healthy."
The Bulldogs will play Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 30 and, while Smart expects both signal-callers to appear, he isn't certain who will start. Daniels has been on a 'pitch count' as he recovers from the lat injury, but seems to be progressing this week heading into the bye. Meanwhile, Bennett has stepped in with a stellar nine touchdowns, two interceptions and a 210.93 passer rating.
"JT practiced [Wednesday] and did about everything," Smart said. "I thought [Wednesday] was the first time since Vanderbilt that I could have said, 'Man, he looks like he could play.' Now, he's rusty, and [Thursday] will probably be the telltale practice because it will be the first time he's gone back-to-back throwing after he threw a lot Wednesday."
Here's a look at how the two Bulldogs quarterbacks have fared this year.
|Player||Games||Passing YPG||TDs||INTs||Rushing YPG||Rushing TDs|
Stetson Bennett IV
Will playing both quarterbacks work, though? Can both of these guys lead Georgia to a national championship? With the way this team is built, absolutely.
Bennett is more than just a "willing runner" or "game manager." He's evolved into a downfield passing threat, averaging 12.1 yards per attempt -- 2.7 yards more than Ole Miss signal-caller and Heisman Trophy contender Matt Corral. Even if Georgia's defense has an off day -- it's on pace to be one of the best ever -- the offense's ability to pound the rock and work off of play-action should be more than enough to overcome a sluggish performance.
Yes, Daniels has a bigger arm and make all the throws pro scouts want. He undeniably has more upside than Bennett, but that makes him a perfect option if Smart and Monken feel the need to stretch the field.
The big question is how Smart handles this from a personality perspective. The beauty of the situation is that Bennett has shown throughout his two stints in Athens that he is a team-first guy, especially since he's an in-state product. Smart isn't going to trot Daniels out unless he knows that he can sling it. And Daniels returned to Georgia instead of heading to the NFL with the mantra of #UnfinishedBusiness, which was used by multiple Georgia players who passed up playing on Sundays. This probably hasn't been the path he expected to finish that business, but it's the one that's working. He knows that's what's most important.
Smart doesn't have a quarterback controversy, he has a quarterback "luxury." That should terrify the rest of college football.