Last week a guy on Twitter gratuitously informed me, “You are always wrong.” Liberated by that feedback, I decided to take a look at Georgia’s quarterback battle as we dive head first into the deep end of the 2017 prediction season. Quarterbacks should be easy, right? There is a returning starter. “Here’s a chance to get a prediction right for a change,” I told myself.
Georgia has three quarterbacks on the roster as the team rolls into “voluntary” summer workouts. Sam Vaughn, a redshirt junior, has spent three years on the scout team. Vaughn saw limited action in the G-Day game but completed fifty percent of his attempts.
With only three quarterbacks currently available, there is a very real possibility that Vaughn could see his first game action as a Bulldog in 2017. Injuries happen. Therefore, any discussion of Georgia’s 2017 quarterbacks must begin with a warning – GEORGIA HAS THREE QUARTERBACKS. A sprained ankle here and a concussion there could push Sam to the front of the line at any time. Vaughn will be ready if his number is called.
There is no question that Jake Fromm is going to be a home-state-boy-makes-good story. The only question is WHEN that narrative becomes a reality.
A sizeable slice of the fanbase has decided that Fromm is the second-coming of Aaron Murray who will shunt aside the underachieving (in their minds) Jacob Eason as soon as fall camp gets underway. Don’t bet money that matters to you on it. Jake Fromm is going to be an excellent starting quarterback for UGA, but the odds of that happening in 2017 are slim. Fromm is still a freshman. Despite all of the praise of his work ethic, his superior study habits, and his competitiveness, Jake Fromm is chasing an incredibly talented player who performed well in his freshman season under challenging conditions. 2017 will be a year of learning
Look for UGA to take full advantage of the new redshirt rule predicted to be in place for the 2017 season. In the past, participation for one play automatically ‘burned’ the redshirt of a player (except for appeals granted for medical reasons), but under the new proposal, student-athletes will be allowed to play in three games while retaining their redshirt status. With the new rule in effect, you can be sure that Fromm will get time in a minimum of three game.
Fromm gives Georgia and Kirby Smart the best backup quarterback option in years, but that is what he will be in 2017 – the backup (discounting injuries).
Jacob Eason has one problem in 2016 – unbelievably high expectations. It was as if Georgia fans forgot that for backs to reach their potential, they must have a superior offensive line to make a path. Quarterbacks are no exception to the rule.
When the UGA staff looked at their offensive line after G-Day 2016, they found four potential starters in the room. That the Dawgs were in that position speaks to the stunning misallocation of scholarships and misevaluation of offensive line candidates leading up to the spring 2016 dilemma, but that is another story. The fact that Georgia needed a graduate transfer from Rhode Island to start at left tackle with a month of practices under his belt says all that is necessary to understand the deficit up front.
Jacob Eason will be your quarterback in 2017. He will continue his development behind a line that will improve as the year goes along. His 2430 yards as a freshman will be overshadowed by a 2017 total well beyond the 3,000-yard mark. Look for a far more wide-open game in 2017 as the stable of running backs get more opportunities in the passing game. Eason will take a huge step forward as his young, but very talented, offensive line gains game experience and allows him to feel more confident in the pocket.
It is going to be fun to watch the two young lions go at it in fall camp, but in the end, Eason will retain the job and Fromm will continue to learn. Here is what Smart told Paul Finebaum about Eason in April:
“I think he has developed his leadership skills over the offseason. He’s got a lot more confidence in some of the decisions and throws he gets to make, and he has also got a little competition going as well this spring with a young man by the name of Jake Fromm. So that part has helped as well. I think it has been good to have Jake in meetings, and (Eason) realizes that ‘Hey, this kid is coming up on my tail pretty quick.’”
Eason will leave the cage with the belt. Fromm will retain the title of fan favorite (the backup quarterback alway holds that title), and Sam Pittman is on his way to the rescue of Jim Chaney. 2017 should be fun.
All of this can not be wrong, can it?