With Georgia’s season opener against Austin Peay less than a week away, the question of who will be the starting quarterback is still in flux, according to head coach Kirby Smart.
While sophomore Jake Fromm started 14 of the 15 games last season including the Rose Bowl and national championship game, Justin Fields was the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2018 and is creating plenty of buzz. Still, signs point to Fromm getting the chance to start on Saturday.
“We’re not announcing a starting lineup for all the positions,” Smart said. “Jake’s been going with the ones the whole time.”
Ironically, at this time a year ago, a similar dynamic existed among the quarterbacks, with Fromm being the talented young freshman and former Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason the incumbent starter. Last year, though, Smart was quick to name a starter at Southeastern Conference Media Days in July.
Smart said the decision not to announce a starter is not necessarily due to any doubts or questions he has about Fromm.
“I think it’s just kind of the mantra we go by here, that every practice is really competitive, and every job opportunity is competitive,” Smart said. “Guys compete, guys go out and play, and it was the same way last year with Jake and Jacob, I mean, he was out there competing.”
Smart also added that there is no plan yet as to when the non-starter might see time later on in Saturday’s game.
“There's no plan, this is what's going to happen, this is when he's going to play,” Smart said. “We're not into that. We're going to kind of see how the game goes.”
Fromm did not offer any news as to whether he would start this Saturday either, saying that he has had conversations with Smart and that he has been working frequently with the first-team offense. However, when discussing Georgia’s running back core, he implied that he would be on the field for the Bulldogs’ first offensive drive of Saturday’s game.
“All the guys can catch out of the backfield and really make plays,” Fromm said of the Georgia running backs. “I feel comfortable with everybody back there, and just excited to see who’s standing out there next to me when we go out for that first drive.”
After a season’s worth of experience at the highest level, Fromm said he has developed more confidence over the offseason in spring and summer practices, which has helped him to take on more of a leadership role on the offense.
“Honestly, when we were kind of doing the seven on sevens in spring and in the summer, for me, I had a couple moments in my head kind of where it felt like high school, kind of back where I knew the defense, what they were gonna run before they ever ran it,” Fromm said. “I knew who was supposed to be in this spot, and the games felt a lot slower than me then, and it’s continued to get slower and slower.”
As for Fields, Fromm said the true freshman has impressed him so far throughout fall camp and pushed him to improve his own game in the process.
“He’s obviously a great competitor,” Fromm said. “He makes a lot of great plays, and a lot of good throws too, so it kind of puts you on edge and you always want to kind of one up and make a better throw.”
Saturday’s game will provide more clarity as to who will be the starting quarterback going forward. But for now, at least according to Smart and Fromm, the competition continues among the top two quarterbacks.
Printed with permission from The Red & Black independent student media organization, based in Athens, Georgia. For more UGA sports news, visit www.redandblack.com/sports.