It’s night and day for Jacob Eason.
A year ago at this time, Eason was slowly adjusting to a college offense. He admitted to having issues with the simplest things, such as remembering which direction to turn on a given handoff. But after winning the starting job and starting 12 of Georgia’s 13 games, Eason said a lot has changed in his game for the better.
“It’s a whole new world,” Eason said. “I’ve been here for a year. I’ve been through last spring, went through the season. I got some experience under my belt. This year compared to last time, it’s not much of a comparison. I feel better. I feel better. I feel like I know where I’m actually going with the ball. I can make some checks and all that good stuff. I feel a lot whole better.”
A lot of eyes will be on Eason to see whether he can make a big leap from his freshman to sophomore seasons. In his first year, Eason performed well for a true freshman, completing 55.1 percent of his passes for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Rarely did Eason make a game-changing mistake and he nearly had a signature moment when he completed a 47-yard pass for a touchdown to receiver Riley Ridley with 10 seconds to go against Tennessee.
But like most freshmen, Eason was on a leash in terms of what he could and couldn’t do at the line of scrimmage. It was quite the learning process for Eason, who played in every game and became a starter in the second week of the season.
“I’ve become better at watching film, so that helps,” Eason said. “Last year, I was still learning how to become a quarterback. I still am, I still have a long ways to go. There’s a comfort that comes along with it that gives you the ability to have confidence to make plays, different checks, and all that.”
More will certainly be expected. With that comes for responsibility.
The playbook figures to open up even more in Eason’s second season. Eason will also have more control at the line of scrimmage, something receiver Javon Wims said he has noticed already.
“The training wheels are off this year,” Wims said. “They’re giving him the ability to make checks. They’re giving him the ability to be a veteran, second-year quarterback.”
Eason said he made some checks but didn’t necessarily have the most comfort in doing so. That has now changed, he said, after his first season and plenty of study to fix the mistakes he made at the line.
Eason also noted that he has learned to communicate better with the offensive line at the line of scrimmage. Last season, Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke helped communicate certain calls for the fellow linemen that normally a quarterback would make.
That task is now falling on Eason as a rising sophomore.
“I’m learning to see through it from their eyes, not just mine,” Eason said.
While Eason is progressing, head coach Kirby Smart said there is plenty more the former five-star prospect can do to improve.
“He’s got a long way to go but he’s come a long way,” Smart said. “He understands the protection now. Last year, there were times where sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t. And there was a lot on his plate. To manage that offense, it’s challenging coming straight in from high school. I think he’s in a better place.”
Like any young quarterback, it’s taken some time for Eason to gain more control and trust over the offense. But after one season, Eason has a much better understanding of the scheme and with what offensive coordinator Jim Chaney wants him to do.
It has allowed Eason’s confidence to grow and for the coaches to expand what he can do under center.
“It comes with experience. That’s a big thing,” Eason said. “They’re giving me a lot more control with that. I feel a lot more comfortable with that than I would have last year.”