ATHENS — Georgia’s offense won’t have any problems this season, and quarterback Jake Fromm is a big reason why according to College GameDay analyst David Pollack.
“Fromm is one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen,” Pollack told DawgNation. “I think he also has great accuracy throwing the football.
“I think it’s going to be a big year for Jake Fromm, not having Justin Fields over his shoulder.”
Kirk Herbstreit, Pollack’s cohort on the College GameDay, said last year Fromm would have benefitted from a more clear role as the starter.
“I would be very cautious with how I handled that situation,” Herbstreit told DawgNation last year, “because Jake Fromm has that ‘it’ factor, and this team wants to play for him, and the team responded to his leadership a year ago.”
Indeed, the Fromm-Fields competition in 2018 was to the extent that coach Kirby Smart refused to name Fromm the starter leading into the season opener and only allowed him one preseason interview.
It was all about fairness for Smart, who pledged an open competition for Fields when he signed with Georgia in the 2018 class.
Smart held true to his word on a week-to-week basis. That was true even as it became more obvious that Fromm was the more effective quarterback and team leader.
Former UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney wouldn’t — or couldn’t — build a package for Fields to run at Georgia.
The Fields family seemed set on the true freshman being allowed to compete for the starting position running the same offense as Fromm, who led UGA to an SEC title and Rose Bowl win the season before.
Field appeared to abandon his progressions early in many of the 12 games he played in, tucking and running the ball prematurely on several occasions.
Fields, perhaps recognizing he wouldn’t pass Fromm on the depth chart in 2019, transferred to Ohio State where he was granted a waiver for immediate eligibility.
Pollack, the most decorated defensive player in Georgia football history and a shoo-in for the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020, predicts immediate success for Fields this season.
“It’s an (Ohio State) offense that’s more tailor-made for him than Georgia’s was,” Pollack explained on WJOX-Birmingham on Monday. “Georgia’s offense was a pro style offense where you make more reads, and he really struggled with that.
“I think (at Ohio State) you’ll see more of a Braxton Miller-slash-J.T. Barrett (RPO) offense where he can use his physical skillset.”
Tim Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner and national championship quarterback at Florida, suggested Georgia’s offense would have benefitted from a Fields’ package.
“If you have one play and it’s a running play, and you make something happen, you know what, Kirby will say ‘go back in there,’ ” Tebow said. “My mentality is, ‘I’m going to earn every snap I get, and I’m going to earn the next one, and coach is going to have to put me back out here.’
“That was my mentality because of trying to impact the game, and that’s something that Justin should try to have.”
Better off apart
That ship has sailed, of course, and now both Fromm and Fields are set to lead their teams, better off to no longer be splitting repetitions on the same practice field.
“I think that will be a big benefit to Fromm,” Pollack said. “I think he’ll pick up where he left off, hot in the SEC Championship Game.”
Fromm was 25-of-39 passing for 301 yards and 3 TDs in Georgia’s 35-28 loss last December.
Fields, Pollack said, is likely just a few reps away in the Buckeyes’ more simplified offense from putting it all together.
“When it clicks for Justin Fields upstairs, and when he gets it up there, it’s gonna be something, and it might be Ohio State is a better fit for him offensively,” Pollack said.
“Less reads, more running, so when it settles down in his head, Justin Fields is going to be an animal.”
Georgia signed junior college quarterback and former UGA walk-on Stetson Bennett in the 2019 class, along with early enrollee QB D’Wan Mathis.
Mathis is two weeks into his rehabilitation after having a cyst removed from his brain on May 24, and Smart said the Bulldogs are expecting a “full recovery.”