Since the arrival of Jake Fromm in January, who will be the go-to quarterback has been a revolving question. Jacob Eason took the job in 2016 from Grayson Lambert after game one and started the rest of the season. Eason won the position again in 2017 but was in game one against Appalachian State. Fromm stepped up to the plate after Eason went down, and has since led the team to a 5-0 start. Now that Eason is healthy the question is, does Georgia continue with Fromm or return to Eason?
Eason was one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in the 2016 recruiting class. He enrolled early and won the starting job from senior Greyson Lambert. The Washington native led Georgia to an 8-4 record with a win over TCU in the Liberty Bowl. He, obviously, impressed head coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney early on with his abilities. Since he won the spot his freshman year, one would expect the spot to be his in his sophomore campaign. However, when you have another five-star quarterback coming in behind you, the competition tends to be fierce. All spring, summer and into fall camp the two quarterbacks competed, yet Eason earned and kept his starting spot. The coaches saw something in the sophomore quarterback that made them decide he was the right man for the job.
As a freshman, Eason went 204-370 for 2,430 yards, 16 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He completed 55.1 percent of his passes. Eason was the first true-freshman quarterback to start for the Bulldogs since Matthew Stafford, and his stats put Stafford’s to shame. He proved early on that he could lead this team and help win ball games.
On the other side of things, Fromm now has four and a half games under his belt. The Georgia native came in as a five-star quarterback and one of the best in the Peach State. His football IQ is through the roof, and he is one of the smartest guys on the football field. Fromm is a student of the game, which helped him early on challenge Eason. Some fans compare him to Aaron Murray, having a similar physical stature as well as by wearing the same number, not to mention similar playing styles. But is his four and a half games of playing time enough to overtake Eason’s full season?
The true freshman is 50-84 for 734 yards 8 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has completed 59.5 percent of his passes and has shown plenty of poise in the pocket thus far. Fromm came in with an “it factor” about him that people like. He commands the offense and just looks like he knows what he’s doing. The point is if he is better than Eason he should play, but if not, Eason should have the spot. However, is that because of the play of the quarterback or the improvement of some other areas on offense?
Eason Experience Trumps Fromm’s on the Job Experience:
Despite leading the team to a 5-0 start, I believe once Eason is healthy he will have his spot back. Eason’s experience overrides a five-game resume any day. However, since Fromm has done so well in the games he’s played in, what will the coaches do? Smart explained to the media that the two guys would compete for the spot and whoever they believe will win the game is who they will choose to play.
I believe that Eason’s experience helps him out tremendously in winning his job back. Chaney and Smart saw something in Eason at the beginning of the season and decided he was the best fit. Does that change since Fromm’s played or does it not matter? Well, there are a few things to look at when deciding who should take that starting spot.
Don’t Compare 2016 Eason to 2017 Fromm:
I’ve heard fans compare the two quarterbacks based solely on Eason’s 2016 performance. It’s hard to say this is fair because Georgia has a completely different mentality than last season, the offensive line has improved, and the Bulldogs have a defense that can set up the offense to score.
Eason came into the picture with a puzzle-piece o-line along with wideouts who struggled to catch the ball, possibly due to the velocity of the throws. On top of that, the Bulldog’s defense struggled last year as well as special teams. So how can fans judge two quarterbacks that have basically played for different teams in different situations? Yes, Fromm’s management skills and his ability to run the offense impress fans and other spectators. But how can people be so confident that Georgia wouldn’t be in the same situation with Eason? So when fans compare the two, is it possible their conclusion is not based on seeing the total picture but the perspective that Georgia is 5-0 with Fromm to start the season in 2017 and an Eason led Bulldog team was 3-2 and struggled against FCS Nicholls State?
Game Plan different with Eason:
The sophomore’s arm strength was one of his biggest advantages last season. However, now looking at the 2017 season, Georgia’s passing numbers aren’t where they were. Granted Fromm doesn’t have the strength Eason does, but that questions how the game plans would be for each game had Eason started.
Georgia could have possibly scored more points in its five wins this season with Eason’s ability to pass alone. Yes, the Bulldogs don’t necessarily need a great passer because Georgia can run the ball and play dominantly on defense, but teams will grow to expect that. What happens when Georgia faces a team that is able to stop their ground game? A successful offense has to be evolving and changing. Eason’s natural ability to launch it 60 plus yards is something Georgia needs to incorporate into the game plan.
It isn’t that Fromm cannot throw the ball. He certainly can, but we have seen him also make some questionable throws in the first five games. And give credit to Smart and Chaney for developing a game plan for Fromm that they know what they can run efficiently with a quarterback who is still learning. They have put Fromm in a position to succeed. That is not to say that that was not the case for Eason last year, but we should also consider, that with Eason’s arm, what this Georgia offense could potentially look like. It’s possible that it could be more explosive.
Fromm vs Eason – Does Size Matter?
At 6 foot 5 and 235 lbs, Eason’s size alone makes him stand out. It is hard to not notice his stature. Then you factor in his arm strength; he looks like an NFL caliber quarterback. Fromm, who stands at 6 foot 1.5 and 225 lbs is more muscular than former Bulldog QB Aaron Murray, but their stature is similar. No. 11 is not what you would call a prototypical NFL sized quarterback.
Smart and company will start to implement Eason back into the program slowly but surely to prevent re-injury. However, after seeing him play in the Tennessee game, his passion for the game and love for the Bulldogs shined through, even though it was coming off the bench, ‘batting’ clean-up. I believe Fromm starts versus Vanderbilt this Saturday and again when the Dogs host Missouri next weekend. But do not be surprised to see Eason get more and more reps, and possibly a majority of reps for Missouri, because Georgia has the potential to be better with a sophomore Eason at the helm.
Despite coming in hot and leading the team to an undefeated start, I think Eason presents a better argument over Fromm. He’s got an improved O-line, and his wideouts that are making catches that they did not last year. Put that together on offense with the way the defense is stifling opponents and the special teams are playing, I believe Eason gets the job for the Worlds Largest Cocktail party and seals the deal down in Jacksonville.
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