Coach Kirby Smart refrains from naming Georgia's starting quarterback

Coach Kirby Smart refrains from naming Georgia's starting quarterback

October 3rd, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm has helped guide the Bulldogs to a No. 5 ranking since replacing Jacob Eason midway through the first quarter of the opener.

Photo by Perry McIntyre Jr.


CO-OFFENSIVE — Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who ran 16 times for 109 of the Bulldogs' 294 rushing yards in the 41-0 rout of Tennessee.

CO-OFFENSIVE — Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who completed 13 of 16 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns during the 49-10 thrashing of Mississippi State.

DEFENSIVE — Alabama cornerback Levi Wallace, who had two interceptions, returning one 35 yards for a touchdown, to set the tone for the 66-3 drubbing of Ole Miss.

SPECIAL TEAMS — Kentucky defensive end Josh Paschal, who blocked a punt for an 18-yard loss back to Eastern Michigan's 12-yard line to help the Wildcats to a 24-20 win.

CO-FRESHMAN — Florida running back Malik Davis, who rushed 17 times for a career-best 124 yards and two touchdowns during the 38-24 victory over Vanderbilt.

CO-FRESHMAN — Auburn defensive lineman Nick Coe, whose six stops led all Tigers defensive linemen against MSU. Coe had two third-down stops and one on fourth down.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN — Florida's Brett Heggie, who helped the Gators rush for 246 yards and throw for 249 yards against Vandy. He had Florida's highest grade up front.

DEFENSIVE LINEMAN — Texas A&M defensive end Landis Durham, who had four tackles and two sacks and caused a fumble with South Carolina in the red zone

— David Paschall

ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bulldogs have ascended into the top five nationally with a true freshman quarterback.

A true freshman quarterback who hasn't been named the starter for this week's game at Vanderbilt, at least not publicly.

Georgia second-year coach Kirby Smart said Monday that competition would determine whether newcomer Jake Fromm or sophomore Jacob Eason gets the nod for the 5-0 Bulldogs. Eason started the season opener against Appalachian State but suffered a knee sprain midway through the first quarter and was out of action until the fourth quarter of this past Saturday's 41-0 road wrecking of Tennessee.

"We compete at every position every week," Smart said. "It is not something we have to announce. We are not starting to announce who the starting right corner or left corner is. We are going to announce it based on how they practice."

Since being thrust into the starting role, Fromm has completed 50 of 84 passes (59.5 percent) for 734 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions and ranks fourth among Southeastern Conference quarterbacks in efficiency. Fromm's 7-of-15 performance for 84 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Knoxville was his worst statistical showing so far, but he had touchdown runs of 9 and 4 yards in an offense that had 294 rushing yards.

Georgia is 19-for-19 in red-zone opportunities with 14 touchdowns under the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Fromm, who has guided the Bulldogs to victories in two Top 25 showdowns — the 20-19 triumph at No. 24 Notre Dame on Sept. 9 and the 31-3 whipping of No. 17 Mississippi State on Sept. 23.

When asked about Fromm last Friday on "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 FM, former Georgia quarterback David Greene said, "I don't think you can pull him at all at this point."

Eason attempted one pass at Tennessee and is just 1-for-4 passing this season for 4 yards. The 6-5, 235-pounder was not cleared to play until the middle of last week, according to Smart, who added that he is "much closer to 100 percent."

Although Smart and his offensive coaches could have a decision to make this week and for the next several weeks, nobody is confusing it for a problem.

"You've got to feel better that you've got two who have played, because we've certainly got that," Smart said. "They are different quarterbacks, but in some ways they do some of the things similar. It is comforting to know that you've got two who are experienced, where last year we really had one (Greyson Lambert) who was experienced and going into this year we had one experienced quarterback.

"Now we like to think we've got two who have played at least a complete season, or four games in the case of Fromm, or four and a half."

By not naming a starter, Smart can keep Derek Mason and the Vanderbilt defense guessing. It will also, however, result in Georgia players having to answer the same question over and over from fellow students and fans.

"To be completely honest, I have no idea who'll start," junior tight end Jackson Harris said. "You guys know about as much as I do. We'll trust Coach Smart and his decision, and we'll stand behind him."

Said junior receiver Terry Godwin: "I actually got asked about that earlier this morning on the bus."

Greene and successor D.J. Shockley each won more than 80 percent of their starts when they were quarterbacks under Mark Richt. That Fromm is at 100 percent is something nobody could have expected when this season kicked off with Eason at the helm.

"It's been very unique," Godwin said. "For Fromm to come in and make the impact he's made, that's big ups to him. To come in as a freshman and be able to do all the things he's done has meant a lot.

"Either way, it's the best fit for us, and I know we're going to win."

Thompson update

Smart provided good news and bad news regarding junior defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, who left Saturday's game in the second quarter with an injured right knee and did not return.

"Trenton's injury is a sprained MCL," Smart said. "He will be out for this game, but it was not as bad as we originally thought. Basically, after this week, he will be week-to-week."

Odds and ends

Georgia's home game next week against Missouri will be televised by the SEC Network with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. ... Harris, who's from Columbia, Tenn., on whether he's letting his Tennessee friends have it after last Saturday's rout: "Just a little every now and then." ... The Bulldogs hold a 55-20-2 series lead over Vanderbilt, but the teams have split the past four meetings. ... Senior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy had a club on his left hand after the Tennessee game and wore it during Monday's practice.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.