Bill Shanks

From an injury comes a startling success at Georgia

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) winds up to pass the ball during his team’s game against South Carolina on Saturday.
Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm (11) winds up to pass the ball during his team’s game against South Carolina on Saturday. For The Telegraph

It was the third offensive series of the season, the 10th play of the year. Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason was chased out of bounds by Appalachian State defender Myquon Stout.

Eason came up limping. And running off the Georgia sideline to take over was Warner Robins’ own, Jake Fromm.

The first two passes of Fromm’s college career were completions, and on the next drive, two passes would lead to Georgia’s first touchdown of the season.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Here we are, almost 10 weeks later, and the freshman quarterback that everyone around these parts knew about has led Georgia to its best start in 35 years. Folks in Middle Georgia might have had confidence in Fromm, since we saw him star at Houston County, but who would have ever believed this?

Eason never got his job back. It’s unusual that a starting quarterback would lose his job to an injury, but Eason lost his job to a winning streak. When Georgia kept on winning and winning, with Fromm leading the way, there was no way Eason was getting his spot back.

It's a shame, really. Eason likely would have been better this season, his second season in Athens. The offensive line has improved tremendously since a year ago, and it would have protected Eason more to let him show off his skills.

But the question has been asked and it’s a fair one: Would Georgia be undefeated and ranked number one in the country if Eason had not gotten injured?

No way.

There’s something about this Fromm kid. He’s a winner, we all know that. He’s a star, the quarterback with the million-dollar smile who probably has the prettiest girlfriend on campus and is passing his classes with ease.

There’s something more, however.

He’s got that intangible, that something special that’s even hard to articulate, hard to pinpoint. Fromm hasn’t been rattled, whether it’s by making his first college start in South Bend, Indiana, against Notre Dame or walking into Jacksonville, Florida, for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Georgia’s coaches deserve tremendous credit for how they’ve handled Fromm. With the most talented group of running backs in the country, the Bulldogs haven’t had to go to Fromm and say, “This game is on your shoulders, Jake. Win it.” At least not yet.

If it does, do you really worry that this kid won’t be able to handle it? It’s not about expecting perfection, as he hasn’t been perfect. But has there been anything (besides the game being a blowout) that has made you say, “Maybe they need to get Eason warmed up.”

Fromm has done what a quarterback for a predominantly running team must do – he’s been effective and efficient. And when players from Florida and South Carolina questioned his ability, Fromm showed he can pass the football and do it well.

Fromm will have to make a big pass at some point. Auburn may shut down Georgia’s running game, for a while, and Fromm will have to deliver a passing game. It’s not that he can’t throw it. He just hasn’t had to pass it a lot. When he does, something tells me Georgia will be fine.

At some point, Fromm will show us he’s human and have a bad game. Maybe his offensive line will break down and Fromm will be on the run and panic, or maybe he’ll press and throw interceptions that hurt his team. Until we see that, however, why expect it to happen?

The last time a heralded freshman from Middle Georgia made this sort of impact on the Georgia football team, the great Larry Munson screamed when he saw Herschel Walker, “My God almighty, a freshman.” That turned into a magical season, as well.

Something tells me ole Larry would love Jake Fromm, and if this special year continues, everyone who bleeds red and black will worship Fromm as they have number 34 through the years.

And it all started with a sack in the third series of the first quarter of the first game.


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