Alabama’s quarterback battle is commanding SEC headlines at the moment. But Kirby Smart and his Georgia staff won’t have an easy time managing their stars in 2018, either.
ESPN and SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy recently spoke with DawgNation to give a breakdown of the Jake Fromm-Justin Fields situation.
McElroy, who quarterbacked Alabama to a national title in 2009, stressed that Fromm (a sophomore who led the Bulldogs to the national title game in 2017) and Fields (a 5-star freshman who would be favored to win the starting job at dozens of other schools) possess different skill sets. Therefore, he reasoned, Fromm should not stress about sharing time with the freshman.
“If I’m Jake Fromm, I’m not all that worried about it,” he said. “Because I know that when [Fields] is on the field, he’s gonna be doing things differently from what I’d be doing. So I know that Jake Fromm is an incredible competitor, and the guys in the locker room love him, and it’s going to be very difficult to unseat him.”
McElroy said he’s never seen Fields throw the ball in person, but has watched Fields’ high-school tape and spoken with sources who say “he’s the greatest thing ever.”
He noted that talent alone won’t necessarily be enough to ascend on the depth chart. Kirby Smart, he said, is much like Nick Saban in that he meticulously charts throws in practice and values consistency more than most coaches.
“He’s measuring efficiencies, and Jake Fromm is insanely efficient,” McElroy said. “Especially as a true freshman last year. His grasp of the offense is only gonna get a little bit better. He’s gonna have more command, and he’s gonna be able to do an awful lot from the line of scrimmage.
“So I think he’s got a really strong hold on the position, and if Fields comes in and unseats him, then look out. Because that means Fields had to have absolutely dominated in the spring.”
No Jake Fromm-Jacob Eason repeat
McElroy said the current quarterback dynamics are much different from last season, when Fromm won over his teammates and capitalized on a Week 1 injury to Jacob Eason to steal the job.
Eason, a former 5-star recruit, is off to Washington. Now, it’s just Fromm and Fields in the conversation, and McElroy doesn’t see Fromm giving an inch.
“Fromm was different last year,” he said. “Fromm was all in, from Day 1 when he showed up in January. He was all about football. That was it. That was the only thing he cared about, and he wanted to be the quarterback at Georgia more than anything in the world. It wasn’t about talent. It was about intangibles.
“He brought those to the position, and that’s where Eason really struggled. So it was pretty easy, I think, for the guys to really rally around Jake Fromm because of how committed he was and the buy-in level from him.”
Those who have followed Fields know that he is a similarly charismatic player who helped shape Georgia’s latest elite class. He potentially could be Fromm’s match both on and off the field … but McElroy still sees a gap between the two.
“This year is gonna be a little unique; you have two guys that both excel from an intangibles standpoint, by all accounts,” McElroy said. “Everyone says that Fields is a great kid and is very capable of stepping right into a program and having success. We’ve seen great quarterbacks get unseated in the past. We’ve seen great quarterbacks have slumps in their sophomore year. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.
“But Jake Fromm is a pretty special player. And anybody that doesn’t recognize that is not watching the same tape I’m watching.”