Isaac Nauta talks about his touchdown reception
It’s not a question Kirby Smart wants to answer at the moment.
Has Jake Fromm done enough through four games to remain Georgia’s starting quarterback when Jacob Eason is cleared without restriction?
Eason, a sophomore from Lake Stevens, Washington, was Georgia’s No. 1 quarterback from the spring through the preseason. A left knee injury suffered in the first quarter against Appalachian State knocked Eason out, with Fromm taking over and starting the next three games.
And Fromm has played well in each start, highlighted by a 9-of-12 passing performance for 201 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-3 win over Mississippi State. Two of Fromm’s incompletions were drops from receivers, and the other was a throwaway with nobody open. It was a nearly perfect game from the true freshman out of Warner Robins.
Smart, however, didn’t want to make any sort of proclamation on the subject.
“The focus is for Jacob Eason is to get healthy and be a part of this game plan and learn what to do,” Smart said. “The focus for Fromm is to focus on improving and getting better. The point for both of them is to have team vision, to have the goal to make the team better. Both are working on that. It’s not just individually. Jacob has to focus on getting healthy, getting 100 percent. Jake Fromm has to focus on getting better and improving. While they both do that, they both have the team goal and vision in mind.”
Following Georgia’s victory over Mississippi State, Smart said Eason was never cleared to play despite being dressed out for the game. Smart, however, did leave the door open on Eason being close to playing against Tennessee.
“Possibly count on Eason,” Smart said. “This is the deal, we don’t know. It’s a possibility. We’ll bring him out there and see where he is, just like we did last week. We think he’s closer because last week he improved as the week went on. We expect the same thing.”
Conventional wisdom would suggest that as long as Fromm continues playing the way he has, he will state a strong case for keeping the starting job. But Eason did win the job outright before Fromm ever stepped into a game for the first time. There surely will be a lot of thought and consideration into who ends up starting when Eason is fully healthy.
A lot of this decision, whenever it is time to make a final determination, will come down to how each quarterback is practicing.
“I want the one who gives us the best opportunity to win to play quarterback,” Smart said. “You say, ‘Who is that? Tell me who it is.’ I can’t answer that. It’s based on the performance during the week.”
Through four games, Fromm has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 650 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception. Fromm’s teammates previously have stated that his preparation during game weeks has led to such early success as a true freshman.
Beginning the year as a backup, Fromm has been able to put the Bulldogs in a good position with Eason unable to play the past three weeks.
“I think it’s beneficial, first of all, from the starters to the backups, to have everybody buy in what Coach has going on,” running back Sony Michel said. “Once everyone buys in the system, they’ll be prepared. Everybody has the talent to get to the University of Georgia. Once they bought in to how Coach wants us to prepare, they’re ready.”
Lamont Gaillard worked all offseason to further his rapport with Eason in the ever-important center-quarterback relationship.
But Gaillard noted that Fromm has done his part to keep Georgia’s offense trending in the right direction since taking over. It has been a luxury for Georgia to have a backup like Fromm step in at such a vital position.
“(Fromm’s) a great player; he’s comfortable and confident,” Gaillard said. “As long as he keeps playing the way he is, we’re going to keep rolling.”
Georgia at Tennessee
3:30 p.m., Saturday