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Football in Georgia instant observations as JT Daniels saves games against Mississippi State



It looks like Georgia is finally having its quarterback in JT Daniels. The problem is that it seems to have found him as all other aspects of the team fall apart.

Daniels wore Georgia all night as he shredded Mississippi State. He threw 401 yards and four touchdowns in the win. These numbers are at the top of everything he did in his time as a novice at USC. It was literally the best game a Georgia quarterback has had under Kirby Smart, as he threw most yards in a single game during the Smart era.

And the Daniels numbers could no doubt have been better. When the score was tied at 24, Daniel put perfect passes to Kearis Jackson and George Pickens. But both ended up in drops.

No matter for Daniels, when he found Jackson down in third place for the possible score. Georgia won 31

-24 to improve to 5-2 on the season.

Perhaps the worried takeaway from the game was that Georgia needed everything out of Daniels as the Bulldogs battled in other areas. Georgia had only 12 rushing yards in the game, the lowest number in the Smart era. The defense also fought heavily for much of the first three quarters against the Mississippi state offense.

Daniels became the first quarterback in Georgia to throw 400 yards in a game since Aaron Murray did back in 2013. On Saturday, Daniels looked just as good as Murray when he was in Athens.

Maybe that’s enough to overlook some of the obvious problems with Georgia on Saturday night.

Georgia’s football defense is fighting again, sharpened late

Mississippi State did not have a Heisman Trophy competitor at quarterback. It started real novice Will Rogers. The Bulldogs from Starkville have not had a good offensive display since the first game of the season.

And yet Georgia’s defense somehow made them look pretty good. Rogers looked clear and relentless as he threw in 336 yards on 41-of-52 passing attempts.

Georgia seemed content to let Mississippi State collect short passes after short passes, putting them in favorable second and third down situations. Mississippi State was able to keep Georgia’s offense off the field when Mississippi State converted on 7-of-13 attempts.

Georgia’s defense started to play better in the second half after giving a touchdown on the opening drive. The Bulldogs finally started to get pressure as Jermaine Johnson and Azeez Ojulari had sacks in the second half, with Ojulari finishing Mississippi State’s last drive.

The defense was again without Richard LeCounte and Jordan Davis. But should losing these two players deserve such a big drop in the game? This is a Georgia team that has signed a top-three recruitment class in each of the last four recruitment cycles. And Mississippi State brought only 49 scholarship players to the game.

Something pretty clear is not right with Georgia’s defense. Can it be solved this season? Maybe if LeCounte returns. But a player, even one as good as LeCounte, should not make a full defense.

Great day from Jermaine Burton

Entering the game, novice receiver Jermaine Burton had 130 receiving yards and a touchdown.

In the first half against Mississippi State, he blew past it with 149 yards on seven catches. He also scored on Georgia’s last offensive game in the first half to tie the game.

And then he came out and scored on a 48-yard touchdown on Georgia’s first run in the second half.

Burton finished the game with eight catches in 197 yards to go along with the touchdown catch. It was almost a record-breaking performance in school when he was just embarrassed by the Taverres Kings’ 205 yards against Michigan State back in 2011.

It helped that Georgia had George Pickens back in the game. He established an instant connection with Daniels when he had a 28-yard catch and drove on the first drive. Pickens finished with 87 yards on eight catches. It was his most productive game of the season, and he found the end zone for the first time since the Auburn game.

Wide receiver had been a serious concern for Georgia in recent seasons. With the promising play of Burton – a novice – and Pickens – a sophomore – it was an encouraging evening for the position.

Fade to Black Jerseys

So the Bulldogs followed through and wore the black jerseys for the first time since 2016.

Overall, people seemed to like the way they looked, and it got people excited foreplay for what was a beautiful meh opponent in Mississippi State.

Certainly, the initial response to the jerseys on social media was positive. But when Georgia once again struggled in the black threads, it feels like we might not see them again for a while and certainly not in a consequence game.

This is only the fifth time in program history that Georgia carries them and the second time under Kirby Smart. The two times under Smart were both in November games where Georgia did not control its own destiny by winning the SEC East.

Is that what it takes to wear and see these jerseys again? Only Smart ultimately knows and checks if this is the case.

More football stories from Georgia from all over DawgNation




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