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Monday Morning Quarterback

Jake Fromm (11)
Jake Fromm (11)

Han Vance on Georgia football: Stellar sophomore Jake Fromm, as a true freshman playing in UGA’s first college football playoff, out-dueled Heisman winner Baker Mayfield in Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl on the first day of 2018. He won the game, against all odds, after “Bake” got off to a hot start.

Positioning Georgia to win only the school’s second undisputed national championship – the one that got away – at such a young age, impressed many. But doing so with the services of senior runners rock hard Nick Chubb and elusive uber-talent Sony Michel in his backfield, both of whom could have gone pro after the previous (8-5) season, in a run-first and even run successfully on third and longs offense, did not do his growing reputation full justice. That the upperclassmen-dominated defense was led by stud junior Roquan Smith, in the single best defender’s season in UGA history, underscored Fromm’s leadership.

This is his team. Those calling for Fromm to be unseated by all-world high school recruit Justin Fields, ever, are seriously misguided in my opinion. Again, this is his team. Fromm played lights out toward the end of last season after he threw more when-needed earlier in the year.

Recall that Jacob Eason was the #1 high school player in the country, and started as a true frosh. Recall, too, that once Fromm got a chance he never gave back the reins. Winning 20-19 at a Notre Dame who have lost very few games over the last two seasons was just an appetizer for how Fromm rebounded from his only regular season bad game, at SEC West champion Auburn. Georgia failed to protect him on the plains, then Jake won out and claimed the school’s first SEC championship since the 2005 (All-SEC) DJ Shockley-led team, which upset a strong LSU in Atlanta (I caught that LSU mauling Miami in the Peach Bowl, they had a truly talented team). It was a long time between 2005 and 2017.

David Greene had quarterbacked the old school’s only other modern league title before 2017, the 2002 SEC title, en route to becoming the then-alltime winningest starting quarterback in all of college football history. That’s impressive, but Georgia, who did get close in various ways three times in 15 years, once every five years, never played in a national championship game in the Richt era.

Of Greene/Shockley and Fromm/Fields, I see many similarities but can’t honestly see the confident and supposedly most physically-talented of them all, Fields waiting around, playing sparingly for two more full seasons to start just one. Is he going to be staying at Georgia? The question will arise.

Between those two duos, amongst three other QBs who each started just one year at UGA, came gunslinger Matthew Stafford, the #1 overall NFL draft pick and beloved Aaron Murray, the SEC’s statistical best passer ever, still. In comparison to Murray’s amazing stats, Mizzou’s Drew Lock didn’t come all that close. Tebow or the Bama guys? Please.

Fromm has already matched Greene and Shockley in winning the SEC once as a starting QB, and has outpaced Murray and Stafford there. He has CFP pedigree, which could serve him for three more tries. None of them truly played for a national championship in their college careers.

For Running Back U, the school has had some notable quarterbacks, throw in radioman and former Marietta Blue Devil Eric Zeier and local Athens great Fran Tarkenton, who had the most pro success. Mike Bobo had his moments as did nice guy Buck Belue.

Think about this: Tua has played in one half of postseason play and an overtime and actually had nothing to lose because he was thrown in there out of desperation, according to Saban. Ian Book at ND and Tyler Lawrence at Clemson have no postseason experience. Fromm has the most of the top four teams.

He has eagerly accepted all challenges that have come his way, including beating out two #1 quarterback recruits. After another off game where he went unprotected at a hungry LSU on the bayou and his receivers didn’t attack the ball, while play caller Jim Chaney abandoned the (working) run, he bounced back better than ever. LSU is a three-loss team now, Georgia won’t see for years.

He has one team to pay back, and payback may be his, 4:00 p.m. Saturday in the great state of Georgia. The Dawgs did not get to 11-1 with the youngest team in the whole SEC by accident.

Over the latter part of the season (weeks 9-12), Fromm, not Tua, was the top-rated passer in the whole country. He may have played his best game Saturday, with a career high four touchdown passes against an outmatched Georgia Tech. While Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray of Oklahoma finally edged him in QBR over the back haul, Murray had to, to win a crazy shootout at West Virginia against one-time undefeated-Gator QB (6-0) Will Grier. Oh how things could have been different for Florida. Fromm (2-0) owns them.

Fromm does only what is required of him to get the wins and won’t be asked to throw it all over the yard. He wouldn’t care to either. Swolyfield (Swift + Holyfield) are way better than anything Bama has in their backfield and Georgia as a team averages over 285 rushing yards per game (most in SEC).

Georgia is and should always be a running school. A running school always has a distinct advantage over a pass-happy team, because only power running football can truly control a game with time of possession. The concern coming into the Tech game, Georgia controlled the action.

Look how Bama struggled in first halves of home games against the Citadel and a downtrodden Auburn in their last two games, compared to what Georgia did to similar levels of competition throughout the last two games in Athens. Georgia is playing more completely and has a perfect balance between running and passing, while Bama has scored their most points ever, which is saying a whole lot at a school that has 17 national championships, including two recent ones that should be ours.

This is a rivalry.

A close game favors Georgia, with the more experienced leader at the helm. While Oklahoma tried to outscore Georgia last year and ultimately failed, analyst Coach Mack Brown, who was quite kind to me at the Rose Bowl when I saw him before the game, recently explained cogently that Georgia only lost the national championship because they lacked the confidence to win it all.

While Coach Saban is 15-0 against his former assistants, Fromm may have the supreme confidence needed to captain his red-and-black ship to victory. Players win football games.

 

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