QB Stetson Bennett joins JT Daniels on Georgia’s injury list

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Georgia quarterbacks JT Daniels (from left), Stetson Bennett, and Carson Beck prepare to play UAB on Saturday, Sept 11, 2021, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

ATHENS -- Georgia’s QB1 and QB2 are both injured heading into Saturday night’s SEC opener against South Carolina.

Coach Kirby Smart somewhat nonchalantly shared that news with reporters in his post-practice media briefing Tuesday. He said quarterback Stetson Bennett -- fresh off his record-breaking passing performance Saturday -- has “got some lower-back issues” that he is dealing with this week. This comes while starter JT Daniels continues to recover from an oblique strain that sidelined him for the Bulldogs’ 56-7 win over Alabama-Birmingham.

No, need to panic, Smart says. He said Bennett’s injury has not prevented him from practicing. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman quarterback Carson Beck remains 100 percent healthy.

“(Bennett) strained some stuff,” Smart said Tuesday. “He’s able to go, but I don’t know if he’s 100 percent. He’s been a little bit dinged up since Monday morning. But he went out and practiced as well.”

That’s just another factor to take into consideration when it comes to which quarterback might start and/or play most Saturday. Bennett had made that somewhat unclear even if Daniels is able to come back this week.

A 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior, Bennett completed 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and threw all five of his touchdown passes -- averaging 48.8 yards apiece -- in the first half against a UAB defense that had finished among the top 15 in the country each of the past two seasons.

Daniels, a 6-3, 210-pound junior, was the Bulldogs’ undisputed starter coming into the season. However, he aggravated an existing oblique injury in the 10-3 win over then-No. 3 Clemson in the season opener and was scratched in pregame warmups Saturday.

Beck shared snaps with Bennett in Daniels’ stead this past weekend. But his play was underwhelming. He was 4-for-10 passing for 88 yards and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

“JT feels much better. He continues to improve. He’s much better now than he was on Saturday,” Smart said. “I don’t know that he’s 100 percent, but he’s certainly getting closer to that. Stetson is repping, JT is repping and Carson is repping.”

Smart also said receiver Dominick Blaylock (knee) is close to making a return and actually may be slightly ahead of fellow slot receiver Kearis Jackson (knee). Jackson has been playing, but only as a punt returner and not on offense.

Flanker Arian Smith (lower-leg bruise) is expected to be back this week, but is somewhat limited. Smart said LSU transfer Arik Gilbert still is not back with the team and he wasn’t sure when Gilbert would be.

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