Kirby Smart wanted a close game. He got his wish with that at G-Day on Saturday afternoon.
He also got a lot of late 4-minute offense and 2-minute offense reps for his two young quarterbacks as the Red team beat the Black team 25-22.
Freshman Jake Fromm connected with sophomore Tyler Simmons for a 70-yard score with 3:48 to play. That gave the Red team a 22-16 lead. Jacob Eason led the first-team offense back with a 38-yard catch-and-rumble to sophomore tight end Charlie Woerner with 2:12 to play.
Then came the counterpunch. Jacob Eason led the first-team offense back with a 38-yard catch-and-rumble to sophomore tight end Charlie Woerner with 2:12 to play. The quick-strikes underscored the theme of the day: Georgia’s quarterbacks would throw for a combined 607 yards.
But Fromm wasn’t done. He led the second-team offense to a game-winning field goal with 1:03 to go. Eason was unable to take the first-team offense down the field for the win.
The other big storyline was the crowd. It wasn’t anywhere near the #93KDay of last year. There was an announced crowd of 66,133. There did not look to be that many folks on hand on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s how it broke down:
- Star(s) of the game: Georgia, according to the experts, signed one of the nation’s Top 3 recruiting classes in 2017. Well, a pair of freshman made sure there was a pretty good opening act to the Bulldog careers. Fromm and JJ Holloman connected for several big plays. The biggest was their 42-yard touchdown strike with 10:56 to go in the second quarter. Fromm, a freshman from Warner Robins, completed 14-of-23 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Holloman caught three passes for 77 yards. Sophomore receiver Tyler Simmons also caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
- More stars (s): Jacob Eason went over the 300-yard mark and finished 16-of-36 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw an interception. The sophomore fed the ball to his first-string wideouts. Junior Terry Godwin caught five passes for 130 yards. Senior Javon Wims caught four passes for 96. Freshman early enrollee Richard LeCounte III also led both teams with his nine tackles working with the second-team defense.
- Turning point: Facing a 4th-and-12 late in the game, Fromm hit sophomore receiver Mecole Hardman, Jr. for a 38-yard game to spark the game’s final points.
- Questions answered: Holloman and Fromm can play. Sophomore kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed an extra point late that would’ve given the Black team a 23-22 lead. He rebounded from that to kick the game-winning score with 1:03 left to play. Sophomore athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. also contributed to the passing game with his three catches for 62 yards.
- The big question: Where was the running game? Georgia’s two teams only mustered up 45 carries for 65 yards in the team rushing total. Red team sophomore Elijah Holyfield led all rushers with his 15 carries for 41 yards. His 3-yard touchdown gave the Red squad a 14-3 lead with 5:25 left to play in the first half.
- Other questions looming: The first-team offensive line didn’t clear out much in the way of running room and Eason was under duress more that he might have expected. Those freshman defensive backs will likely get a look early because Jake Fromm and Jeremiah Holloman both took advantage of some second-team defensive backs with foreign jersey numbers. Those match-ups required both the fans and the press box population to check their rosters to figure out just who got beat on that play on a couple of occasions.
- Statistically speaking: The eye-popper of the first half had to be the struggles on the ground of the first-team offensive line against the second-team defense. The Bulldogs, of course, didn’t feature Nick Chubb or Sony Michel to any extent. But Brian Herrien had been one of the stars of spring practice. He had just eight carries for 12 yards. Jacob Eason was sacked two times which dropped the team rushing total to minus-3 yards on 11 attempts. Eason was also just 8-of-21 for 133 yards and one interception. Early enrollee Jake Fromm was on target for 7-of-10 for 100 yards with one touchdown. Those three incompletions would also fall in the drop category.
- What it means: Let’s be clear: This was a spring game. But it was the first real shot at a game simulation for a lot of young Bulldogs that should be placed in key roles for the first time this fall. Will anyone remember who won the game just four months from today? Probably not. Will they remember the stands were only about half-full in 2017? Likely not. They might remember the first time they saw Holloman offer up a glimpse of what he can do for Georgia.