Georgia coach Kirby Smart won’t second-guess not using Justin Fields more at LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. — Georgia’s offense struggled mightily at LSU, but the Bulldogs weren’t ready to turn to Justin Fields.
Fields was trending on Twitter by the end of Saturday afternoon, but to the chagrin of many Georgia fans, he wasn’t trending on the football field in the fourth quarter of the Bulldogs’ 36-16 loss.
The No. 13-ranked Tigers pulled off the upset with Fields, a talented freshman dual-threat quarterback, limited to just five snaps. He was on the bench for most of the final quarter.
Smart, understandably, was not in the mood for “what-if” questions.
“I think that’s every couch quarterback, you can go back and say anything,” Smart said when asked about Fields’ playing time against LSU.
“What should you have done? Well we should’ve scored more points. And at the end of the day we’re trying to move the ball, trying to do things.”
The offense sputtered, held to 322 total yards and 5-of-14 on third downs.
The Bulldogs trailed 16-0 at the end of a first half that saw a fruitless fake field goal, three straight three-and-out drives and starter Jake Fromm missing a wide-open Mecole Hardman on a would-be touchdown pass on the opening drive.
Fromm dropped to 18-3 as a starter after his 16-of-34 passing performance netted 209 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, the second of which set up an LSU field goal.
Fields handed off on four of his five snaps in the game, keeping the football for a 3-yard run on the other.
“It’s easy to sit back and second-guess and say this and that, but at the end of the day we have to make good decisions, and we’ve got to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win,” Smart said.
“And we’ll continue to do that, both of those guys are going to continue to get better. They are good football players.”
Fromm rallied Georgia from a 17-point deficit in the Rose Bowl last season, leading the Bulldogs to 54-48 victory over Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
While Fromm misfired on some throws, on other occasions passes were dropped and routes were run incorrectly.
Georgia has a bye next week leading into an Oct. 27 showdown with Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., and what could be a pivotal Nov. 3 game at Kentucky.
Smart indicated Fields will continue to work on the passing element of his game. Fields is 18-of-25 passing for 200 yards with two touchdowns this season.
“Everything is out there for [Fields]. He still comes in and gets reps at the quarterback position,” Smart said. “It’s easy to sit back and second-guess at this time, but at the time we felt that gave us a spark with some of those runs he does, and he’s continuing to grow.
“We have to give ourselves the best opportunity and those are the decisions we have to make as an offensive coordinator and head coach.”
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