ATHENS — Kirby Smart cautioned this week that this will not be the “Jake Fromm Show” when Georgia plays at Notre Dame. The freshman quarterback needs help from his 10 teammates on the field, Smart cautioned.
But that may have been meant mainly as far as individual performance. When it comes to game management – getting into the right play, going up-tempo, making checks at the line – Fromm already appears to have the confidence of his veteran teammates.
“We’re not looking at it as, ‘It’s a freshman quarterback, we’ve got to help him.’ No, he knows his role, and we know our role,” senior tailback Sony Michel said.
It was noticeable to many last Saturday that Fromm, when thrust suddenly into the game to replace the injured Jacob Eason, didn’t seem to miss a beat. In fact, Georgia’s offense went faster – which Smart said was a byproduct of completions leading to quick plays, not because the coaches intentionally sped up when the quarterback changed.
But the mere fact there was no panic at the quarterback spot, and the offense continued to run, said something about Georgia’s new starting quarterback.
“After that, we just kept moving,” junior center Lamont Gaillard said. “We were ready for the next guy, he had to step in. He was comfortable. He was ready to help us. So we were on to the next thing, let’s go.”
Georgia’s offense, like many in college football, has a no-huddle element, trying to catch the defense off guard with quick plays. But in order to do that there has be precision from the coaches booth – where offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is calling plays – down to the sideline and to the field. And often times, the quarterback has to read the defense on the fly, and sometimes audible.
Eason, by his own admission, wasn’t as comfortable last year making those checks at the line. Fromm, on the other hand, picked up that ability very quickly. Smart has said that Fromm was ahead of Eason at the same comparable point of their freshmen years when it came to knowledge of the offense.
“Jake’s already comfortable making checks,” Michel said. “He’s been comfortable since the day he got here, trusting his eyes and seeing what he sees. If he sees a safety rotation he’s going to check it. And I think he’s very comfortable with making those calls. He’s just got to trust himself and trust us to know that whatever we call we’re right behind him.”
There are also times when tempo takes precedent over getting in the right play. There are no checks of the defense or adjustments, the quarterback just has to get the team to the line and run the play quickly.
“It all depends on the situation. If we’re trying to go tempo, we’re going tempo,” Michel said. “There’s a time and place for everything, if coach wants to go out there and make checks on certain looks. If we’re going tempo we’re trying to catch them off guard, obviously. You’re trying to make sure certain guys aren’t lined up. So it all depends on what they give us.”
And when that happens, it may not as much be the Jake Fromm Show, as it is the Jim Chaney Show.
“I think coach Chaney is going to do a great job of calling plays to whatever they line up to,” Michel said. “They do things that we’ve seen before, so it’s nothing different that they’re going to try to do. If they try to surprise us I’m sure coach Chaney is going to adjust to it.”