Kirby Smart made it crystal clear that his fresh-faced freshman quarterback, Jacob Eason, is under no pressure to carry Georgia on his shoulders in 2016.
Although most of the fanbase and media have anointed Eason as the savior of an offense that underperformed in 2016, Smart sees that burden belonging to himself and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney:
“Some of it came up during recruiting that the pressure’s not on Jacob, the pressure’s on me. I’m the first-year head coach. The pressure is on me and Coach (Jim) Chaney to protect him. There’s no pressure on him, no expectations on him. He’s a kid coming out of high school for mid-year (enrollment). He’s going to have 15 practices, he’s going to have 27, 28 practices in the fall to get him ready and prepare him. We’ve got to put him in good situations and we’ve got to be able to run the ball if he’s the guy. We don’t want him coming in and thinking he’s got to win the job. There’s some other guys here too that played some football last year. We’ve got to find what the best remedy for our offense is. That’ll be very important in spring practice. To say that it all falls on Jacob, I don’t think that’s the case. I would rather take that burden myself.”
Eason was asked about Smarts comments and replied:
“It feels great because there is a lot of expectation from the fans and the media. I do look at that, but not too much. When Coach Smart says (that the pressure is on him and not me), it’s kind of reassuring that I’m going to be able to go out and grow and do my job. As a young quarterback, it definitely means a lot when he says that.”
The Washington native is adapting to life as a college freshman living in the fishbowl of a big-time SEC sports program:
“With Coach (Scott) Sinclair in the weight room, I’ve definitely been putting on weight. I’ve been here for three weeks and I’ve put on quite a bit of weight. It’s a huge transition, but once you get your mind wrapped around the fact that it’s college football and there’s no excuses, your work ethic comes along with that. I’m just trying to do the best I can and be a leader if I can be. I’m coming in now, getting used to all the guys and what they want to do with themselves here. I’m doing the best I can with myself, and I’ll keep working with the guys here.”