Georgia quarterback JT Daniels delivered an impressive performance against South Carolina in his second start of the 2021 season.
Daniels missed Georgia's week two contest against UAB with an oblique strain. He was listed as questionable in the lead-up to kickoff but ultimately got the start.
He struggled to find a rhythm against Clemson during week one, largely because of the Tigers' impressive front-seven. They routinely forced Daniels off his spot, making him get rid of the ball before receivers could come open downfield.
Georgia responded by getting the ball into their playmakers' hands in the safest way possible. They ran a variety of inside runs, boundary screens, and quick-developing pass concepts. Daniels ended the night 22-30, throwing for 135 yards and an interception.
Daniels bounced back in a big way against South Carolina on Saturday. He was in total control of the offense from the opening kick and consistently made the smart play. This is his second year in offensive coordinator Todd Monken's offense, and Daniels is clearly very comfortable.
Good quarterbacks manage to find ways to put their offense in favorable situations, which is what Daniels did against the Gamecocks. He noticed early on that South Carolina was having trouble communicating the defensive call at the line of scrimmage and took advantage of it several times.
The most notable example came midway through the first quarter. Daniels rushed the offense to the line of scrimmage after a first-down pickup. South Carolina's defensive backs were out of position, and Daniels quickly fired a dart downfield to wide receiver Jermaine Burton.
Burton was all by himself and walked in for a 43-yard touchdown. Daniels managed to find holes in this Gamecock defense all night and came out of the game after putting up 40 points.
Head coach Kirby Smart praised Daniels' professional approach earlier in the year during SEC Media Day. Daniels has a rigorous film schedule that includes both college and pro tape.
His ability to diagnose defenses pre-snap and then adjust to what they do post-snap is impressive. Daniels sees where defenses are going before the snap and positions his offense accordingly.
This is very important in all games but will be vital against elite teams down the road. Good defenses will disguise coverages and run different blitz schemes in an attempt to confuse quarterbacks.
Daniels is incredibly savvy, and his performance tonight proves that he can deliver explosive plays while ensuring that his offense isn't big-play reliant.
This Georgia team has rallied around Daniels over the past calendar year because of his competitive nature. He was built to play in the SEC and talked about the difference between the Pac-12 and his current competition at SEC Media Day.
"Football is just another thing on the west coast. I would say is kind of how it felt versus football being the thing here. I remember driving in; it’s the first thing I remember from being in Georgia from when my family and I drove from the Atlanta airport to Athens. Just seeing the Georgia flag flying and the Georgia Bulldog flag flying everywhere. I just really came to experience what it’s like, you know, having football be such a main focal point and such a communal aspect. But for me, I loved it since I’ve gotten here, and I still do. And I’ve been vocal about how much I really love being here and the way that it functions. For me, it wasn’t much of an adjustment; that’s how I've been my whole life."
He ended the night 22-29, finishing with 295 yards and three touchdowns against just one interception. Daniels will look to continue his strong play next week on the road against Vanderbilt.
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