Barrett Sallee thinks it’s game over, Fromm’s won.
To put it more succinctly, the offense is developing under Fromm and Chaney. It’s expanding and stretching the field deep consistently…
To translate the coachspeak, Fromm is Smart’s guy and will stay that way unless the progress that has already been displayed somehow regresses to a point where Eason is needed.
It’s unlikely that’s going to happen, though.
With all due respect to Barrett, he’s sort of on the right track with his argument, but ultimately, it ain’t about Fromm vs. Eason. Matt Hinton explains why.
Beyond the stat line, though — or even the scoreboard, really — what was most encouraging for the immediate future was how snugly all of the pieces fit together: The running game held up its end of the game plan, racking up 203 yards while consistently keeping its fledgling QB out of down-and-distance danger, and Fromm held up his, reliably eviscerating the MSU secondary off play-action.
In fact, given that it faced only two or three predictable passing downs with the outcome still (theoretically) in doubt, arguably all of Georgia’s success through the air was to some extent an extension of its success on the ground.
In short, it was exactly what Georgia has always envisioned for its offense at its best: A complementary, run-first attack that exceeds the sum of its many talented parts. It’s a system designed to turn a merely efficient signal-caller into a star. And as long as it continues to keep him in his comfort zone, everything we’ve seen so far suggests Fromm is ready for his closeup. [Emphasis added.]
The running game is clicking. The offensive line is rounding into some semblance of competency. The end result is that Georgia’s offense doesn’t have to rely on throwing the ball to win. Take a look at this season’s passing game log:
- Appalachian State: 20 attempts, 113.24 passer rating
- Notre Dame: 29 attempts, 100.49 passer rating
- Samford: 15 attempts, 224.00 passer rating
- Mississippi State: 12 attempts, 270.70 passer rating
Noticing any sort of a pattern there?
When you only need your quarterback to take a dozen shots a game with the ball because the rest of your offense is performing at a satisfactory level, you can make it with any talented quarterback, including a true freshman (although it certainly helps to have a precocious one like Fromm). But I have a hard time believing Georgia couldn’t succeed equally well with Eason only having to put up 12-15 passing attempts a game. Ultimately, if this keeps up, I don’t care who’s taking snaps.
Now, I’ll admit there’s a big “if” in that last sentence. Hinton delves into that possibility.
The looming question at this point is how Fromm will look when the down-and-distance and the defense aren’t as favorable. Against Mississippi State, the offense was so efficient on first and second down that he barely faced any must-throw situations on third; all three of his successful third-down completions (including the long TD to Nauta) came on 3rd-and-5 or less. Can he consistently deliver from the pocket if it’s 3rd-and-8 and Chubb and Michel have been held in check?
We haven’t seen enough to know, but right now the answer is not obviously yes. To date only one of his nine pass attempts on 3rd-and-7 or longer has resulted in a first down, and his only interception came on a predictable passing down at Notre Dame.
So, yeah, it’s been smooth sailing for a couple of games now, and, yeah, there were a couple of head-scratching moments — or, maybe fairer, true freshman moments — in South Bend. But we’re two games past that, which means Fromm’s experience has doubled. He doesn’t strike me as a kid who’s going to regress significantly.
And before you go there, no, I don’t think Eason would be a step backwards if Fromm defies my expectations in tough times. For one thing he’s got a lot more experience, but more than that, he’s got things like this working in his favor.
Maybe it takes him a little time to shake off the habits of 2016, but a well-protected blind side makes any quarterback better. Add to that a better stable of running backs, what appears to be developing depth at wide receiver and Eason’s in a happier situation than what he was burdened with last season. Yeah, I think he can succeed with that.
That’s why I say there’s no controversy. For the first time in a long while, Georgia is blessed with quality depth at the position and appears to be providing real support either way things go there. I honestly don’t care who starts, because I think either quarterback can deliver. If you’re a Georgia fan, that may be a strange place to be, but I sure could get used to it.