MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Pat Narduzzi announced this during his press conference on Monday afternoon and Neal Brown confirmed during his – JT Daniels will be West Virginia’s starting quarterback for Thursday night’s season opener against Pitt at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh.
“If they haven’t made that announcement, I’ll make it for them,” offered Narduzzi, who waited last week before announcing USC transfer Kedon Slovis as his starting quarterback, during the start of his weekly conference call press earlier today.
“JT earned the right to start,” Brown added. “Really, the decision-making is what won him the job. He has the full confidence of the players and the staff, and we have a lot of confidence in him on how he will perform in the first game.”
Daniels was 7-0 as Georgia’s starting quarterback before suffering an oblique injury. He completed 68 of his 94 pass attempts for 722 yards and seven touchdowns before his injury, including a 303-yard, three-touchdown effort against South Carolina.
Georgia’s wins were against No. 3 Clemson, UAB, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 18 Auburn and No. 11 Kentucky with Irvine, Calif., resident behind center.
“I think I’ve seen the 238 shots he’s taken in the last two years and he’s very, very skilled,” Narduzzi said. “I can see why he’s the starter.”
Brown said there was a quarterback competition for the first two weeks of camp, and the coaching staff evaluated a number of different areas before making their decision.
“It came down to goals, completion percentage, decision-making, and really, all four guys had equal opportunities and over the course of these two weeks and two scrimmages it was clear that JT earned the right (to start),” Brown. said.
“The battle for the reserve is on, and I will say this, I feel really positive about the future of that position,” he added. “I like the young guys we have, and we’re doing some things to help develop them.”
Brown admits there will be a lot of unknowns in the first game. For Daniels, it will be his first game in a West Virginia uniform playing in one of college football’s great rivalry games.
Daniels has 21 college experiences, including 11 as a true freshman at USC in 2018 and one game with the current offensive coordinator Graham Harrell before an injury ended his sophomore campaign.
“The positive thing is that it is his 17-year-old selfth or 18th start at the Power 5 level, so it’s nothing new for him,” Brown explained. “He’s played in big games, so I don’t think the atmosphere will shake him. He has played in these types of games before.
“He’s really accurate with the football. He’s thrown the ball down the field with a high completion percentage during camp. He does a really good job of making a decision,” Brown continued.
Harrell, who had Daniels for about half the game at Fresno State, said he has really improved since they were last together.
“I think a lot of it is that he’s getting more and more comfortable with what we’re doing with our guys,” Harrell said. “He’s been more consistent recently and we’ve talked a lot about how intelligent he is, so that helps.
“He has prior knowledge of what we do, so it’s not like he’s learning a whole new offense or a new language, but if you look at offensive football, they all have similar concepts,” Harrell added.
Graham admits Daniels’ year at Georgia exposed him to some elite athletes on both sides of the football.
“Experiencing some other things was definitely good for him. He saw some top-level talent, got to go against some great competition and also played with some big guys,” Harrell said. “It goes both ways, but I think going against the competition in Georgia helped him more than anything. In practice, they had about (five) first-rounders on that defense.”
Players and coaches also say Daniels can throw a catch deep, and the passing downfield has been pretty erratic for West Virginia, really, since Will Grier last played for the Mountaineers in 2018.
Having a more consistent passing attack down the field is something Brown has wanted from his offense since he arrived in 2019.
“He puts him in a spot where we have a chance to make a play on him every time,” the senior wide receiver. Bryce Ford-Wheaton said.
Protective protection Charles Woods agrees.
“He’s very accurate. He can squeeze a ball 50-60 meters down the field between two opponents, so that’s something I see right away from him,” he said.
Since Narduzzi had the first word on Daniels, he also gets the last word on him.
“He can make every shot, and he’s really, really talented, so we’re going to have our hands cut for us on that end,” the Pitt coach concluded.
Today is truly Wednesday for both teams in terms of game preparation for Thursday night’s game. Debut of the season Neal Brown The Radio Show from Kegler’s Sports Bar & Grille will air Tuesday nights at 7:00 PM on the Mountaineer Sports Network from Learfield stations across the state.
The team is scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night before Thursday’s game, an outlet announced earlier this month.