MEMPHIS — Jacob Eason will be better next season. He will be better because he will have played 13 games, his offensive line and offensive coordinator can’t possibly be worse than they were this season and, for as many misfires as he had in Friday’s Liberty Bowl, he looked composed and under control down the stretch of a close game.
“My first year, I had a lot of ups and downs,” Georgia’s freshman quarterback said after a 31-23 win over TCU. “I definitely had some things I’d like to take back. But I learned a lot though it. So the biggest thing for me is to learn from the mistakes I made this season and the good plays I made and come back better.”
Eason did not have a brilliant final performance. He sailed several passes, including one when he had Terry Godwin open on the right sideline for a potential touchdown. He completed only 12 of 21 attempts and his 164 passing yards mostly were attributed to great yards after the catch by Isaiah McKenzie (77-yarder) and Sony Michel (33-yard touchdown on a check-down).
But what didn’t do was force the ball into coverage when protection broke down or the running game wasn’t there, which was often. He didn’t throw an interception (his two touchdowns left him with a TD-interception ratio of 16-8, or 2-1). He also moved around frequently in the pocket to buy time and had a 15-yard scramble. He also eluded TCU’s pass rush to get into position to complete the pass to McKenzie that turned into the 77-yarder (which set up a touchdown).
I’ve written several times that expectations for Eason were far too high this season. Blame that on the obsession with recruiting. Blame it on the general I-want-it-now mentality of fans. This isn’t a sport where freshman quarterbacks often perform well, particularly in the SEC.
Eason believes he has made “tremendous improvement” from the opening game against North Carolina to the 13th against TCU. Referencing his running, he said. “At the beginning of the year, moving around wasn’t my biggest thing. But I’m more comfortable doing that now, even though running is definitely not one of my strengths.”
On his accuracy issues: “I definitely missed a touchdown throw. That’s the frustrating part of this experience. Would I like to have it back? Sure. I need to be able to hit those throws. But all in all, I’m thankful for the job everybody around me did.”
The grading curve will be tougher next season.
Of course, that won’t stop many from calling for incoming freshman Jake Fromm to start.
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