Daniels on the passing game: 'We need to be more explosive'
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Georgia quarterback JT Daniels showed on Saturday night that he’s a true team player. The former USC transfer understands that sometimes he needs to do less so that the Bulldogs can benefit from it in the end.
Therefore, that’s exactly what he did in No. 5 Georgia’s 10-3 upset over No. 3 Clemson at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday night.
Daniels completed 22 of 30 passes for 135 yards against the Tigers. Those numbers aren’t even comparable to what he accomplished last year after taking over as the starter. Nevertheless, Daniels executed what was asked of him for the greater benefit, which was to help the Bulldogs secure a victory over the Tigers.
“Do I have a half and half feeling?” Daniels said in his post-game interview on Saturday night. “Hell no, we just beat Clemson. I’m happy.”
Georgia’s offense struggled against one of the top defenses in the country. The Bulldogs had several of their top receivers missing due to injuries, so offensive coordinator Todd Monken didn’t give Daniels the chance to make many shots downfield.
Nonetheless, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound signal-caller carried out the game plan, which was to keep Clemson’s talented defensive line on its toes and to protect himself from a sack as best he could.
Daniels gave credit to his teammates after the win for executing on their end.
“Our D-Line played amazing, our whole defense played amazing,” Daniels said. “I think our O-Line fought their ass off in the end, especially when we had to run a four-minute offense. I think we did good things offensively, just not consistently to where you will put up points against Clemson.”
Daniels highlighted that Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables did a great job of disguising coverage patterns.
“They were very different than what we had seen on film and we had kind of expected,” Daniels said. “A lot of times against a lot of teams, they had played a good amount of more man coverage.”
He also said that Clemson’s blitz packages were different from what he’d seen during film sessions.
“They had shown a lot more exotic pressures and dropping fewer guys in coverage,” he added. “They were trying to create more with their defensive line and linebackers with secondary blitzes.”
Daniels’ lone interception came in the third quarter when Tiger defender Baylon Spector jumped the route and picked off the pass.
“They played three-buzz on us, they did a great job of disguising it, and number 10, linebacker Baylon (Spector) is a great player,” Daniels said. “He did a great job sitting from the inside route and jumping the outside route on the last hitch.”
Daniels pointed out he needs to get better at hitting his tailbacks out of the backfield when the opposing defense brings the pressure.
“I’ve got to get the ball to the running back,” Daniels said. “When they are going to drop eight and drop into windows, the best thing to do is get the ball to the running back and take our chances with him.”
Venables’ game plan really caused Georgia’s offense to struggle throughout most of the game. The Tigers were able able to contain most of the Bulldog skill players and not allow them to make plays downfield. Nonetheless, missing key deep threat options like George Pickens, Dom Blaylock, Kearis Jackson, Arik Gilbert and Darnell Washington hurt Georgia’s passing attack.
Even so, Daniels did not make excuses for the lack of explosive plays in the passing game against the Tigers.
“I think the biggest thing that Clemson showed us was that we need to be more explosive,” Daniels said. “Teams are being more explosive on creating different ways to run the ball, creating different ways to get the ball in the guy’s hands quick and in space against zone teams.”
Georgia plays UAB this upcoming Saturday. The Blazers ranked No. 14 in the nation in pass efficiency defense last season, only allowing an average of 86 passing yards per contest. Despite playing against a much inferior opponent this past weekend in Jacksonville State, the UAB defense limited Gamecock’s quarterback Zerrick Brown to only 88 yards through the air.
So, Daniels and the Georgia offense are going to have to try and find a way to be more explosive against the Blazers.
Georgia sixth-year head coach Kirby Smart agreed with his quarterback.
“Hey, I'm excited to see what our guys can do moving forward,” Smart said on Monday. “The greatest jump you make is from game one to game two, so we got to find a way to be more explosive. You can see on tape that it's there, so I'm glad we got the attention of those guys."
Here is the video from Daniels’ post-game interview: