On JT Daniels’ injury…
“I don’t know about finessing it. My first question with Ron (Courson) is he going to aggravate it and hurt worse, right by not doing anything, and he said basically it’s a muscle injury. So anything that bothers it you don’t want to do, but anything that doesn’t bother it, you want to continue to do he’s able today to go out and do some soft toss, it didn’t bother it and that’s the same protocol he did with that. It was not a complete shutdown, there’s exercises he can do in our training room that are bands, and throwing motions, and things that don’t hurt him. That don’t bother him. As long as it doesn’t bother him then we feel like we’re getting improvement, gradual improvement. And that’s the key because the last thing I want to do is push the envelope, reinjure, go back, then the constant cycle of that. So we’re not trying to finesse it to the point that ‘hey we throw him out there,’ we’re trying to get him to do what he can without getting injured and I’m not the expert of that, I can assure you. I do listen to what Ron says and he also consults with other people.”
My header is a quasi-rhetorical question. I mean, we’re in the midst of maybe the best-managed season of Georgia football I can remember — despite a bunch of injuries on offense and some weeks facing subpar opponents, Smart has kept this team on an even, focused keel, gotten production on both sides of the ball and avoided any serious in-game brain farts — and yet there is plenty of Internet chatter about (1) why Beck isn’t getting more playing time and (2) whether the team really afford to let Daniels miss a few more games to recover fully from his lat strain.
Left unsaid by those questions is an underlying assumption that Stetson Bennett isn’t good enough for the task ahead, at least in the short run. I said this a couple of weeks ago, but nobody on this coaching staff is expecting Bennett to take this team to a national title. The thing is, nobody on this coaching staff is asking him to do that. Here’s something Seth Emerson wrote ($$) about Bennett that resonates with me:
He may be the best backup quarterback in the country, a known quantity the team could turn to if Daniels were knocked out against Florida or in the SEC championship or some game like that. Carson Beck and Brock Vandagriff may have more long-term potential but this isn’t the time to be developing for the future, at least if you risk blowing the present.
Bennett’s started two games this season. Georgia’s won both. Even more importantly, he’s proven he knows how to operate Todd Monken’s gameplan at a high level. UAB sold out to stop the run and Bennett torched them to the tune of an insane 431.53 passer rating. Arkansas played its patented 3-2-6 defense and Bennett happily handed off the ball 57 times in route to a 37-point win. I’m not seeing a problem here.
If rest is beneficial to JT Daniels future this season and it can be provided without much risk, it makes sense to allow him to recover fully. How risky is Auburn, then?
Well, against P5 competition, Auburn’s offensive ypp is 5.26, good for 11th in the conference, and its defensive ypp is 5.43, 7th in the SEC. If you do the math quickly, you’ll note that works out to a negative net ypp. Somehow, the Tigers have to get untracked this week against a defense that’s done this in their last two games:
For perspective, yes, Vanderbilt is bad, but even after last week’s shellacking, Arkansas is still the SEC’s fifth best in offensive ypp and fourth best in defensive ypp against P5 opposition. In other words, even if you want to give Auburn something of the benefit of the doubt because Georgia will be on the road in a hostile environment this week, it’s still hard to see how they’re a more formidable challenge than Arkansas was.
The risk seems manageable, in other words. It seems weird to say this, but I think the coaches have earned the benefit of the doubt here. If your mileage varies, tell us why in the comments.