I think up and down is a fair characterization of Jacob Eason’s one season at the helm of Georgia’s offense. It’s what we should have expected from the combination of a new staff, a talented but inexperienced true freshman quarterback and a patchwork offensive line. When Eason went down in last year’s opener, it was also fair to expect a case of déjà vu. At that point, what else was there to expect? All the ingredients from 2016 appeared to be there for the 2017 recipe.
The first and most obvious guess about where things were headed was that the reliance on the running game would hardly subside — with a healthier Nick Chubb and a talented addition in Swift, it would have been malpractice for Chaney not to have given Fromm a chance to get his sea legs by emphasizing the run. And that is in fact what happened.
During the 2016 season, Georgia had 193.5 passing yards per game, good for No. 97 overall and tenth in the Southeastern Conference. In the 2017 season, Georgia had 176.9 passing yards per game, good for No. 105 overall in the country and 12th in the SEC.
Fromm attempted less than twenty passes in seven of Georgia’s twelve regular season games. He never attempted more than thirty in a game until the national championship. He averaged 19.4 attempts per game all season.
Funny thing, though. In the course of limiting the number of passes, Chaney’s passing attack grew dramatically more efficient.
Team Passing Efficiency
During the 2016 season, Georgia had a 118.67 passing efficiency rating, good for No. 98 overall in the country and 13th in the SEC. In the 2017 season, Georgia had a 154.12 passing efficiency rating, good for No. 11 overall in the country and fourth in the Southeastern Conference.
Passing Yards Per Completion
During the 2016 season, Georgia had 11.86 yards per completion, good for No. 80 overall in the country and 10th in the Southeastern Conference. In the 2017 season, Georgia had 14.26 yards per completion, good for No. 14 in the country and third in the Southeastern Conference.
As a true freshman, Jake Fromm finished eighth nationally in passer rating. (The next highest rated freshman quarterback was 55th.)
It’s impressive to see how that all worked out, considering where everyone started. Fast forward to 2018, with a rapidly improving offensive line, depth at running back and wide receiver and, most importantly, another year under the belts of Fromm and Chaney, add to that Kirby’s old friend, competition, pushing Fromm in the form of Fields, and it’s hard not to get a little excited about what may be coming.