ATHENS — Jake Fromm is the flavor of the week. Next week: yet to be determined.
This isn’t meant to diminish the performance of the Georgia freshman quarterback against Appalachian State, or suggest Fromm isn’t going to ultimately win the starting quarterback job over Jacob Eason. But situations involving 19-year-olds tend to be in perpetual flux. So let’s hold off on the coronation.
We will learn significantly more about Fromm in the next game than we did in the last one. There are the obvious reasons: It’s a road game against a major program, Notre Dame, not a home game against a Sun Belt team being paid to be there. Then there are the unknowns: Fromm performed well (10 for 15, 143 yards, one touchdown) in extraordinary circumstances, having to come off the bench in the season opener, when he wasn’t expected to leave the sideline.
The surprise element can work both ways. In short, when you don’t have time to think, it can be a benefit.
Fromm likely has known since Saturday that he will start at Notre Dame. Theoretically, he should be better prepared mentally, as well as physically, for the game, taking the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense in practice. What remains to be seen is how he responds to that buildup.
Again: He’s 19. It’s his first start. Everybody knows it. Notre Dame coaches will have film on him and they’ll have a plan.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Eason has a left knee sprain and his status is, “week to week.”
“Week to week” is the new indefinite. “Week to week” is, “You’ll get the truth when you pry it from my cold lips.”
Smart on Fromm: “I thought he came in and managed the situation well. Every situation is different because App State obviously wasn’t planning for him.”
Smart walked the line Monday, as he should. He said he was “disappointed” for Eason, referencing his work ethic, off-season growth and improvement.
“And he really didn’t get to showcase that the other day,” said Smart.
Smart obviously hasn’t been on Twitter.
When Eason went 1-for-3 in his abbreviated start, fans were done with him. Because 1-for-3 projects to 11-for-33. And a scoreless game projects to Georgia getting shut out.
Jacob Eason: You are yesterday’s five-star.
Jacob Fromm: You are now Roger Staubach.
Want to gauge a fan’s consistency? Toss a ping-pong ball into a wind tunnel.
Smart praised Fromm. But he appropriately kept the focus on this game and not beyond. (Just guessing: Eason’s injury will keep him out at least a month.) This isn’t the time for assumptions or projections, at least not internally.
Fans — have at it. As I wrote Sunday, grand proclamations on either Eason or Fromm now is premature message board silliness.
Eason is the same kid who caused recruiting zombies to drop to their knees and give thanks when he signed with Georgia, despite the firing of Mark Richt, the head coach who recruited him. They contrast (their own unrealistic) expectations with his shaky 2016 season, ignoring: 1) The usual freshman learning curve; 2) Georgia’s weak offensive line; 3) an unimpressive season by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
But say this for Fromm. He’s popular. Players love him. Coaches love him. Fans love him … because he’s the other guy.
From Smart: “Jake is a gamer. He grew up around the game. I’d compare him to a coach’s son, a football junkie. He’s always cheering and fired up. Every time he makes a good throw in practice he’s always jacked up, and he’s as excited for the kid who made the play as he is himself.”
From safety J.R. Reed: “He has the ‘it’ factor.”
From wide receiver Javon Wims: “I saw it in the spring. I thought, OK this kid might be really good.”
From linebacker Davin Bellamy: “If you knew how well this guy prepares. And he’s a student of the game. I mean, the guy’s the real deal. So (his performance) didn’t surprise me because he prepared so well. He has the tools along with the mindset.”
But the most impressive thing about Fromm might just be that he’s here: He was widely recruited himself but chose to come to Georgia, despite the fact Eason already was on campus.
“I don’t think Jake Fromm cares about the depth chart,” Smart said. “The best quarterbacks I’ve been around are those who don’t care, and I don’t think he ever cared. He’s pretty confident in himself. The best ones are.”
That’s the best reason for Georgia to feel good about Fromm. As for the rest, we’ll have to actually wait for the games.
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