ATHENS — Jacob Eason appeared to have a canned answer ready this spring when it came to the arrival and competition from Jake Fromm.
“I’m glad he’s here. I’m glad we can learn from each other,” Eason said. “And I’m excited to see what happens.”
The key phrase there may have been “learn from each other.” And based on what their coach is saying, Eason already has learned from Fromm — and it’s already benefitting the offense.
Fromm, the early enrollee, bounded into Athens this semester with the energy of a precocious, eager student. He didn’t have the experience, height or perhaps even arm that Eason possesses, but he sought to outwork him, especially in the film room.
Eason wasn’t exactly a slacker in the area last year as a freshman. But apparently his film work wasn’t at the level of Fromm, and apparently Eason noticed, especially with Kirby Smart publicly claiming that the starting job was open. So Eason reacted, and in the past few months, he has done a “done a much better job” of watching film, according to Smart.
“Jake is the biggest reason, because Jake’s in there wanting to watch all the time. So if that’s the case then I’d want to watch too,” Smart said. “[Eason] understands it better. And I think he enjoys it too, because he sees the value. He’s starting to get some return of investment in the time he spends watching tape.”
So how does it manifest itself? Smart used an example: Eason is better at recognizing coverages in the film room, and then during practices and scrimmages he’s been applying it.
“He sees the coverage we played in the film room, boom, he makes a quick decision, the ball’s out, the O-line doesn’t look as bad because the ball is out. The ball is zipped there super fast, so now the defensive back is further away and he’s going down the field turning it up rather than catching it late,” Smart said. “So it’s making an effect on the overall offense, just the fact he has more overall awareness.”
It’s easy to see how that example, if it plays out that way, could really help Georgia’s offense next season:
In terms of getting the receivers time to make plays, Georgia ranked 11th in the SEC last year in pass plays 10 yards or longer and was tied for 11th for pass plays 20 yards or longer.
And as far as getting the ball out quicker, as Smart alluded, Georgia gave up 24 sacks last year, tied for sixth in the SEC, and rushed throws had plenty to do with Eason’s completion percentage (55.1).
“I’m hoping I’m more accurate than last year,” Eason said. “Obviously I’m trying to build off of last year and do better as I go.”
There’s another way Eason apparently is doing well — along with Fromm. After the second scrimmage this past Saturday, Smart mentioned a relative lack of turnovers this spring, which also would indicate good things from both quarterbacks. Interceptions weren’t a huge issue for Eason last year — he only threw 8 – but his turnovers did loom large. The sack-and-fumble in the end zone against Tennessee was a huge moment in a close loss, as did the late interception against Georgia Tech, another loss.
Smart was asked if Eason was ready to take the same step as sophomores that Aaron Murray and Matt Stafford did at Georgia. Smart responded by first pointing out he wasn’t around for those 2.
“But I certainly think that Jacob is making a stride of progress just in his awareness of situational football. His decision-making. His throws into tight windows. I mean I feel like he’s grown as a quarterback,” Smart said. “Am I ready to say that he’s Aaron Murray or Matt Stafford, no, don’t write that. Because that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying he’s grown as a player.”
G-Day is scheduled for April 22. Georgia’s spring game kicks off at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on SEC Network.