Daniels leads Red to 28-23 win against Black
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Daniels leads Red to 28-23 win against Black

UGA Football
Photo: Rob Davis/UGA

ATHENS, Ga. – Quarterback JT Daniels passed for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Red past the Black 28-23 in Georgia’s G-Day Game on Saturday in front of 20,524 at Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.

Daniels went 28-of-41 for 324 yards with touchdown passes to receivers Adonai Mitchell, Kearis Jackson, and Demetris Robertson.

Mitchell led all receivers with seven catches for 105 yards and the touchdown. Robertson pitched in 88 yards and his score. Tailback James Cook had 61 yards receiving and 26 yards rushing for the Red, while tailback Zamir White rushed for 28 yards and a touchdown and had 50 yards receiving.

Quarterback Carson Beck paced the Black by going 22-of-31 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Kendall Milton rushed for a touchdown and 34 yards and added 31 yards receiving. Tight end Darnell Washington led the Black with 84 yards receiving and one touchdown.

Defensive back Javon Bullard had a Red-best seven tackles, including five solo. Defensive back Major Burns followed with six tackles. Defensive lineman Zion Logue recovered a fumble and had a sack.

For the Black, linebacker Quay Walker had a game-high eight tackles, followed by defensive back Ameer Speed with seven. Defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt was credited with two sacks.

The Black squad struck first on Saturday as Milton raced in from eight yards out. Kicker Jack Podlesny booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter. The touchdown was set up by Washington’s 51-yard catch from Beck.

The Red countered with a 2-yard rushing touchdown by White with 2:43 left in the half. Kicker/punter Jake Camarda’s PAT knotted the game at 7-7.

Podlesny, the hero of Georgia’s win in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, broke the tie with a 35-yard field goal with 1:25 remaining.

Daniels connected with Mitchell on a 24-yarder as time expired in the first half, then hit Jackson on a 9-yarder with 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Camarda converted both extra points for the Red.

The Black squad made things interesting in the fourth quarter as Beck and Washington connected again, this time on a 13-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion failed, leaving the score at 21-16 with 2:22 remaining.

But Daniels answered with this third touchdown strike, finding Robertson on a 59-yard catch and run. Camarda’s PAT made it 28-16 with 1:52 left.

Beck capped the game by finding receiver Jaylen Johnson on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 22 seconds to go. Podlesny’s PAT accounted for the final margin.

Georgia will open the 2021 season on Sept. 4 in Charlotte, N.C., against Clemson. The Bulldogs’ home opener will be Sept. 11 against UAB.

POST-GAME QUOTES

Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening statement

“I was very pleased and happy to have, for one, great weather, but great fan support. I thought our students really turned out well down there in the west end zone. It was good to see that atmosphere back. Over there in what I call the old student section, it was great to have everybody there and supporting the players. The atmosphere was good, no major injuries, which was great. We were able to get out there, scrimmage and do some things. Really proud of our guys for the kind of spring we’ve had. We have had a tough, physical spring and 15 practices complete. We’ve got a long way to go to get where we need to go and have to find some depth and positions and have got to get better at some other positions. I thought our guys really competed hard today. Really just enjoyed watching and seeing the operations of the quarterbacks from the back end where I get to sit and hear them call the huddle and call the plays.”

On vertical passing plays and what he saw from his defense as well…

“I didn’t see it that way. I saw it where I thought our guys came out a little bit slow, but vertical passing games a lot of times is based on your ability to run the ball. That wasn’t our goal this game — to come out, establish the run and really run the ball hard. G-days are built around a lot of two-minute drives. You want to hurry up, throw and catch the ball. That reduces the risk of injury. When you’re doing that, there is a lot of intermediate passing game. Kind of like when we did 7 on 7 before it. The defense is also playing some quarter, quarter halves doesn’t allow you to take the top off a lot of times. I do think we caught the ball well and we didn’t have all our arsenal out there in terms of wide outs, but the ones that were out there I thought they competed really well. Some of the DBs got to make plays, and then some of them didn’t make plays but that’s always going to be the case in a spring game. I was pleased with the effort and attitude of the guys though.”

On how important it was for the offense to have JT Daniels for the full spring… 

“He’s got command of the offense; he’s got an ability to utilize the pocket. We work on that each and every day. Coach Monken is always driving that home with him, his ability to move in the pocket, step up. The offensive line has got to protect him and get him an opportunity. There were times today there were four-man rushes. We got some pressure, guys got pushed back into him. I think that is important — allow him to step up in the pocket, move around and make plays down the field. But he has command of it, he understands it. The key is his decision-making process. We know the quarterback position there is probably a decision that has to be made every single play,  and he manages that really well fortunately.”

On plays or players that stood out…

“Yeah, I thought Adonai Mitchell, in the spring Adonai competed really well. He’s a competitor, he makes plays down the field. For a guy that just enrolled, that just got here, he did a good job. Both James and Zamir made some plays in the passing game, were able to get some catches, check downs, make some people miss. Kendall as well had some good strong runs, which he has done this spring, so a lot of those guys pop out defensively it’s hard to say without watching it. I did think Jalen Carter and Devonte Wyatt were disruptive inside with some inside stunts that helped us and got quick pressure a couple times. For every positive there is a flip side of that, we’ve got to protect him better or we’ve got to tackle better.”

On Darnell Washington’s progression and knowledge of the offense…

“Well, it’s interesting, he wasn’t able to practice all spring so he missed some time and just getting him back gave us another weapon at least for this game. He missed some time there and I know his conditioning level is going to be important to him make sure he’s really in shape. He’s a great target he’s a big target, he’s an athletic guy. He is a weapon. We have to find ways to be able to utilize him both in the passing game and in the run game because he’s a weapon in both.”

On progress of wide receiver and defensive backs …

“I would probably argue that every G-Day you come out of you feel good about the wide outs because you throw the ball so much in the G-Day game. G-Day I can never remember coming out of saying ‘Oh man we don’t have any wide-outs,’ I’ve never felt any negative way towards the defensive backs coming out of spring game They’ve given up yards and passing because this game is built around that. It’s probably a little unrealistic on some plays, whether the quarterback has been sacked or not. That is the hardest thing to measure in this because sometimes he has to step up, maybe make a throw, make a play down the field when you don’t know if that would actually have happened or not. We certainly have to improve in all of those areas and I am looking forward to it. I know we have a lot of wide outs. It’s going to be a really good competition come fall when we are in 100 percent health in the wide receiver position because some of the guys that got a lot of these opportunities this spring have really stepped up and then the defensive back, it doesn’t change it stays the same. It’s day to day, we’ve got two safeties that have played pretty good and are experienced, but at corner we’ve got to find guys that are comfortable, make plays down the field and make plays with their backs to the wall.”

On the young secondary getting to play in front of fans…

“Hopefully it pays off next year in the upcoming games, because the opportunity to be a defensive back is not in the run game. You could have 25 run plays, and they may never be involved in one of them at corner. The more you throw the ball, the more you challenge them. You challenge them by what you call, but you also challenge them by putting air in the ball and throwing it around. We got to challenge those guys. We will get to do that all summer in 7-on-7. We have got to grow and get better, and we have good players. We have to coach them up and get those guys ready to play at a high level. They will get challenged, obviously in our opener and in our conference play and teams we have to play next year. There are some teams that can sling the ball. This game is about skill, so if you have skill level out on the perimeter, it is hard to stop people. I do not care who your corners are or how good they are. You are not shutting people down anymore.”

On Adonai Mitchell’s emergence…

“We thought he was a talented player. He is another one of the guys that we do as good of a job as anybody in the country doing research on players and evaluating players. It is not about what they are ranked or what the media says about them or what the recruiting rankings say. We watch the tape. The tape speaks volumes. In the case of Jordan Davis, it spoke volumes. In the case of Adonai Mitchell, it speaks volumes. These guys that we evaluate ourselves. We thought that he was a really good player. We did not care what everybody else thought, and he is a good football player. We evaluated him and kept recruiting him. He came in, and we did not get to see him in the bowl practice. He actually got sick right when he got here and never got to really bowl practice with us. It was very unfortunate that he was here for eight days and never got to practice. Then he had to go home, and then he came back. He worked out well. He has gotten himself in decent shape. He needs to get in better shape, but he made plays. He made plays during the spring. When you have a guy like that, that steps up, it is almost a bonus. We lost George [Pickens], and it forced him to play more, but he picked it up fast. When Jermaine [Burton] went down, he had to get even more reps. We are really excited about him and think he is a good player. The last three practices of spring ball were probably his best practices.”

On the quarterback room…

“I do not know. Top to bottom, I certainly feel really good about all four of them. I do not know that I could ever say that I had four that I was confident about. These four, I feel really good about. I think they are good football players. I think they are bright, they are intelligent, they challenge themselves. It is hard to compare it to other years. We have certainly had a talented quarterback room before, but with four guys you feel good about, it is hard to have that in college football. I thought they challenged themselves, and we set our practices up where they get to develop. You only got to see a piece of that today, and it is unfortunate. Today, there was only one quarterback on the field at a time. In our practices, a lot of times there are two out there, and there are more reps available. We are trying to get their growth to happen a little faster than it would normally without getting the reps.”

On the offensive line competition…

“It is all up for grabs. We will review the tape and see how they did. Jamaree [Salyer] did not get to practice all spring. He had a couple of practices that he had to miss. He may have been a little bit rusty out there today. Tate [Ratledge] has been in the thick of it. Tate has a physical presence and toughness. He is strong in the weight room. Being a guard in the SEC, you have to have a firm pocket, and you have to be able to move people. You go against the best defensive lines every year in our conference, and you have to have some mass. You have to have some guys that can sustain heavy rushers. We think Tate does a good job of that. [Justin] Shaffer and Jamaree have been splitting some reps, and Jamaree has been doubling up with [Xavier] Truss. We are not where we need to be on the offensive line. If we are going to be a good team, we have to protect the quarterback, and we have to be able to run the ball. That is one of the areas where we are going to have to take some of the largest leaps in order to get where we want to go next season.”

On hitting the quarterbacks hitting checkdowns… 

“Well, part of being a quarterback is taking what the defense gives you, and there were a lot of times today that’s what was given. It might have been a two-minute situation, it might have been a long-yardage situation, but we’re playing to get better at zone. We’re a man-match team; we don’t play a lot of man-to-man, but we play man-match. A lot of times your back is turned to the ball, and we want to get better at zone. So, I thought defensively, we did a much better job of forcing checkdowns, now we have to go physically make the tackle. And offensively, when we hit the checkdown, we have to turn a four- or five-yard gain into a 10, 15-yard gains, and that’s the only way we are going to be elite, is to do that.”

On JT Daniels’ growth in commanding the offense… 

“It’s hard to say there’s a discernable difference because I felt like he had a really good command last year. You know, I never went into a game, with the Mississippi State game probably the most unknown, but he had a command then. He has command now. I think he has better understanding of his weapons, a boatload more reps of each one of those. I’m excited about what he can do. The decision-making is everything for that position. Get us out of a bad play, get us to the next play, play for the next down. Use four downs when possible and use a guy who can make us right. I know he’s gotten better, but a discernable difference it’s hard to say. He had a good feel, a good command for the offense, even last year.”

On Carson Beck’s spring season… 

“He had some good spring scrimmages. He had some good outings out there in the spring. We thought he could throw the ball well. He had a really good practice on Thursday. In terms of taking command of the offense, making decisions, using the players around him. He’s got really good pocket presence. He’s natural at not moving in the pocket. He’s not a burner, he’s not going to run out there and outrun you, but they still have to tackle him, and he’s a big man when it comes to live play. But I’m pleased with his progress. I think he got better. You know, Carson, he didn’t always have the focus he needed last year as freshman in terms of preparation, academics, on the field, off the field, in the meeting room. Now, since we’ve started this spring, he’s taken notes, he’s got command of it better, he’s doing better academically, he’s got to be in the classroom. He’s trying to take a step forward and do some good things.”

On Ladd McConkey… 

“Yeah, he gets a ton of reps. First of all, he’s got great toughness, he’s savvy, he has no fear. He’s taken some shots this spring, but he gets back up after them. He’s in a competition for return game reps, and my expectation is that he competes. He’s going to go out and compete for special teams jobs all over the place and compete at wide receiver to learn the offense — get a little bigger and stronger. He’s got really good quickness. But I’m excited about Ladd. He’s going to be a guy who is going to be a really good football player for us.”

On the kicker position… 

“[Jared] Zirkel has been injured, so we went with [Jake] Camarda today to give him an opportunity. You know we don’t get to travel all the time three kickers, so you want to have a back-up kicker situation in case a guy goes down, and there’s no better experience for a kicker than getting to kick field goals in a game. So, we felt strongly that Camarda would get to kick today in the game, and he did kick field goals during the game. He hit the ones that you would like for him to hit, but he is certainly going to get better. Camarda has got a tremendous leg, you see that in the punts. You see the strength of his leg in the punts. But he is the same way in field goals, but he’s just probably not as accurate as Pod [Jack Podlesny] is.”

#18 JT Daniels | Jr. | QB

On the performance of the quarterbacks …

“I think a part of that is just really good quarterback room and a good system you know, Carson prepares like a starter, Stetson prepares like a starter, Brock prepares like a starter. Everyone is all about doing their job to get better every day, and I think you saw it in the spring game where you know there’s certain things are simplified and made a little easier”

On playing against his own defense…

“Yeah, that’s one thing you have to mention about Georgia football is that defense gives you everything every down, starting with that front seven. In the secondary you know a little inexperienced in the secondary, but don’t hold that against them, there’s a lot of talent and there’s a lot of good players. There’s no fear in my mind and no fear that I feel with that secondary on the field. They give us a look every day. They make a lot of plays. We make a lot of plays on them, but it’s just good on good.”

On throwing short to the running backs…

“That’s a great question because I love throwing the ball deep, and you see it a lot but, especially when you have James, Zamir, Kendall all the guys we have I think check downs in general are the most underrated and underappreciated aspect of the offense. At a bare minimum it is easy to throw, at a bare minimum it’s three yards — and that’s if the first guy tackles them. It’s very very rare that the first guy tackles any of our running backs, so if a defense wants to bring vertical pressure and drop back and place off, we’re playing good coverage. You know if I have to check it down 10 times in a row, I’ll check it down 10 times in a row. There’s no problem with that for me, and I think you saw it a lot for Cincinnati, that two-minute drive consisted of a pass to George and then three or four check downs in a row. It’s really just taking what the defense gives you. And we trust our running backs with the ball and make people miss them.”

#95 Devonte Wyatt | Sr. | DL

On forcing pressure on the quarterbacks today…

“We try and do that every day in practice, just focusing and causing havoc up front.”

On where the defense can improve before the fall…

“Really, we just need to make sure we’re all working together and all on the same page. Running to the ball, wrapping up and finishing — that’s it.”

On coming back to Georgia for another year…

“In that room, when we decided to come back, it felt like we can do something this year together and make history. Go to the playoffs, win a National Championship. So, we [Wyatt and Jordan Davis] both decided to come back together and win one together.”

#7 Quay Walker | Sr. | LB

On what he’s seen from the quarterbacks, specifically Brock Vandagriff…

“He’s been working really hard just trying to get the pace of college football. It’s way faster than high school and what not. Things are going to be different. I know one thing —  he’s trying to get better at is recognizing defenses and the coverages.”

On matching up in coverage against Darnell Washington…

“It’s pretty fun to me, because going up against a guy like that is really going to help me throughout the season. He’s going to bring a lot of different matchups just by how big he is and by him being able to move how he moves.”

On what he saw from the defensive backs this spring…

“Overall in the spring, just a whole lot of young guys trying to get better and improve their speed. Just getting better each and every day, working on technique mainly. There’s still a lot of things to work on. Not just them, but everybody as a team. Today, technique wise there are some things they need to fix, but us as well as a whole defense. We can help in the back end by pass rushing or whatever it may be, me included. Overall, I’m really impressed by their effort and everything.”

#70 Warren McClendon | R-So. | OL

On the benefits of having JT this spring…

“It’s been good having him for the whole spring.  Just building that connection with him and him being in the huddle giving us the plays, just doing that every day, getting the repetition is good.”

On the performance of the offensive line…

“I think we did good today.  We could’ve done better, there’s always room for improvement, we’ve got to just get back in the lab and work.  It was cool being out here in front of all the fans today.  Not having G-Day last year, and just getting out here and showing what we have, was pretty cool.”

#10 Kearis Jackson | Jr. | WR

On the heavy emphasis on passing today…

“It’s just G-Day – being out there, throwing the ball around, just trying to keep guys healthy and being safe and just being able to sling the ball around today and have some fun.  Just bringing over what we’ve been doing all week.  These 15 practices have been fun, just being out here to compete.  Throwing the ball around because the only way you get better in the passing game is actually doing it in practice.  Just being able to execute and throw and catch.  We were able to do some of that today and have fun doing it.”

On Adonai Mitchell…

“AD has the potential to be one of the best freshman receivers this year – he’s very athletic and things like that.  But, there’s still room for improvement, condition-wise, just being able to sustain.  He did put on a showcase today, but there’s still room for improvement.”

On his goals as a veteran this fall…

“Some of my main goals are to be a leader, be there for my teammates – it’s a team sport.  Every team needs leaders, so I’m big on leadership this year.  Just knowing that I’m not only pushing myself, but pushing the ones around me.  Trying to become the best route runner in this league.  So, that’s one of my goals this year, and just being able to win games with my teammates.”

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