Athens, Ga. (WNN) — Quarterback JT Daniels was ruled out of throwing practice for No. 2 Georgia on Monday, leaving Junior’s position precarious for Saturday’s Southeastern Conference at No. 18 Auburn.
Bulldogs lean on their running game and defense to overtake No. 8 Arkansas 37-0 last week. Daniels was in uniform, but did not play after testing his right lats injury in the pregame warmup.
Stetson Bennett filled in for Daniels and passed for only 72 yards as Georgia ran for 273 yards against an Arkansas defense that was aligned with extra defensive backs.
Even when it may depend on the nation’s top defense, Georgia may need better offensive balance at Auburn. Georgia coach Kirby Smart said on Monday that he hopes Daniels can play against the Tigers.
Smart said Daniels was “doing everything but throwing” in the first practice of the week.
“The biggest thing is for her to rest, recover and try to heal,” Danielle Kay Smart said. We are very hopeful that he will be able to go on Tuesday, Wednesday and throw like last week.
Daniels misses two games. A oblique injury prevented Junior from playing in a 56–7 win over UAB on 11 September.
Bennett, a senior, has completed 29 of 41 passes for 515 yards, including six touchdowns and two interceptions in four games, including two starts. He completed 10 of 12 passes and threw five touchdown passes Breaking a school record in the first half against UAB.
Center Cedric Van Pran said Georgia is lucky to have two experienced quarterbacks.
“I think the best thing that our quarterbacks do is they definitely make a calming impression in the game,” Van Pran said on Monday. “They stay calm, they lead in the right way and in a positive way.”
Smart said he trusted all of his quarterbacks, including new Carson Beck, who last week liked Bennett when he needed backup. Still, Daniels is 7-0 as a start.
Georgia must make a decision now to protect Daniels’ health for the team’s SEC and national championship hopes.
“I think it’s going to be a matter of time,” Smart said. “It’s really number one, pain tolerance. Number two, can he heal it so it’s not a long-lasting injury. It’s unfortunate because it’s a hard injury.”
Georgia’s offense picked up momentum last season, when Daniels, a transfer from Southern California, completed his recovery from knee surgery. The Bulldogs won their final four games with Daniels as the starter.
This season, Daniels has completed 76.1% (54 of 71) of his passes for 569 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
Georgia (5-0, 3-0 SEC) is winning with the defense. This allowed only 4.6 points per game and posted consecutive shutouts in SEC games for the first time since the 1980 national championship season. The Bulldogs have defeated their previous two opponents 99–0, including a 62–0 victory at Vanderbilt.
Auburn (4-1, 1-0) averages 40 points per game and gained momentum with last week’s 24-19 win at LSU.
Auburn coach Brian Harsin is tracking Georgia’s precarious quarterback position.
“I don’t know about his quarterback position,” Harsin said on Monday. “JT Daniels is great. Stetson Bennett, very impressed with that.”
Harsin said Georgia has “good balance, they have good staff, and they’ve got two really good quarterbacks, and they’ve been able to get the ball to the guys.”
WNN Sports Writer John Gennor in Auburn, Alabama, contributed to this report.
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