HOOVER, Ala. — Recent college football history has shown the ample possibilities of a quarterback’s second year in an offense. Names like Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Fields serve as prime examples of quarterbacks who, with time and experience, flourished above expectations in their second season.
In 2021, one possible signal-caller to follow in suit is Georgia’s JT Daniels. Daniels, who spent the team’s first six games on the sideline, took the reins to the Bulldog offense and led the way to a 5-0 finish on the year. In those five games, he threw for 1,231 yards and ten touchdowns, including an electrifying last-minute victory in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
While his 2020 half-season certainly appeared to be successful, Daniels believes there is much more success on the horizon for the Bulldog attack. The junior spoke about his expectations for the team Tuesday at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
“Everybody that played in the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati is here, plus some newcomers, and we’ve had a whole spring, as opposed to last year," Daniels said. "There’s just been a lot of time and energy put into building that rapport. So I would, of course, expect it to be progressing week by week, year by year to get better and better.”
One such newcomer is former five-star recruit Arik Gilbert. Gilbert, who was ranked as the top tight end in the class of 2020, is transferring from a one-year stint at LSU and is listed as a receiver for the Bulldogs.
“There are players who have great talent and like football, and there’s guys like Arik who have great talent and love football,” said Daniels. “He does a lot of the things that impress you regardless of the talent level, and then you add that to the level of talent he brings, and he’s a special player.”
With new talent like Gilbert stepping in and numerous weapons returning in bigger roles going into this season, the Georgia receiving corps surrendered very little talent to the 2021 offseason. The Bulldogs return all six top receivers from 2020.
Unlike 2020, Daniels and Co. will also benefit from a full offseason, unbothered by COVID-19. After not being able to participate in summer practice last year due to a knee injury, Daniels has had a proper offseason and preseason to make himself at home in offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s playbook. The transfer from USC also commented on his connection with Monken, who is also entering his second season in Athens.
“We see the game the same way, which is hugely important between your offensive coordinator and your quarterback. It’s a relationship building that’s arguably one of the most important,” he said. “I think he’s a really good guy, he genuinely cares about the kids. It’s hard to knock Monken on anything really.”
With a familiar offensive scheme, a talented group of pass-catchers around him and a full offseason to grow, Daniels isn’t the only one who believes his team is ready to dominate. As national media sets a high bar for the Georgia offense, Daniels continues to keep his mind on his task at hand.
“I don’t know what they ranked our offense honestly. We just focus on what we can do in this coming week to be ready for next week, and then next week it’s what can we do to be ready for camp?” said Daniels. “It’s cool when they say you’re good. It’s cool when they say you suck. It really doesn’t matter either way. You go out and play football.”