Parrish Walton highlights a moment in the bowl game that caught my eye when I saw the play live.
Really, a still shot doesn’t do that moment justice. The reason it grabbed my attention when it happened was because Michel, if not exactly frantically waving, was certainly making every effort to let it be known by his quarterback that he had a substantial amount of open real estate in front of him after what would have been a simple pass in the flat.
Now it’s easy to say that Eason has to get better at reading the entire field and the simple matter is that he does. (Michel was far from the only open man Eason didn’t see that game.) And let’s not forget that the play did result in a completion to (an open) Nauta that set up a touchdown on the next snap.
The hard part is that there are several factors in play behind Eason’s shortcomings. The biggest one, in my humble opinion, was a lack of trust in the offensive line’s pass blocking. There is some justification for that; Georgia finished with 24 sacks allowed, which was a middle of the road finish by SEC standards, but a considerable drop from the 15 allowed in 2015. (Of course, there’s a certain chicken and egg factor here. How much of that can be blamed on a tendency to hold the ball too long?)
There are other things, too. The transition from playing in a shotgun spread attack in high school to a pro-style offense may not have been quite as jarring as what Brice Ramsey was asked to master, but it was significant in its own way. You also have to wonder how the emphasis on avoiding interceptions, something Eason did a respectable job of as a true freshman, may have restricted his decision making.
The point here is that the burden to improve for next season is as much on Eason’s surrounding cast, including his position coach, as it is on Eason himself.