ATHENS — Georgia legend Eric Zeier has played and seen a lot of football as the SEC’s former all-time leading passer and current Bulldogs radio color analyst.
Zeier is as measured with his opinions as he once was with his passes, so his thoughts on fixing the Bulldogs are sure to resonate in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
The No. 10-ranked Georgia football program plays host to Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Saturday (TV: ESPN) looking to get back on track after a shocking 20-17 upset at the hands of unranked South Carolina last week.
“I think we’ll get back to who we want to be and who we are this week,” Zeier said on Kirby Smart’s radio show on Thursday night. “We want to be a big, bruising team that plays great defense, that’s able to control the ball on offense. In the critical moments of games we are typically balanced … last week we got out of that a little bit.”
Zeier suggests versatile and explosive playmaker James Cook could be part of the solution, and he’s surprised the Bulldogs didn’t look more to him last Saturday.
“South Carolina has been able to get after quarterbacks, we’ve seen that, (so) I thought we were going to try to get the football out of Jake’s hands, utilize the quick game,” Zeier said. “I was a little surprised we didn’t get James Cook more involved in the football game.”
Zeier said “the blueprint is out right now, on how to attack us on the offensive side of the football,” and that “you’ve got defenses that are selling all out against the run.”
Indeed, Jake Fromm attempted a career-high 51 passes in the loss to the Gamecocks with a career-high three interceptions. Fromm who had not been intercepted in the first five games, also was sacked three times and fumbled away a center exchange.
It was not all on Fromm, but Zeier did not give his fellow quarterback a pass.
“It was probably the one time I’ve seen Jake Fromm miss reads, where we had guys running open, and all of the sudden if you hit that, if the correct read is made and you complete the pass on the seam or going outside, now all he sudden, you look like a genius when you’re calling plays,” said Zeier, who finished his career between the hedges in 1994 with 67 UGA records and 18 SEC marks.
“When you miss a couple of reads, make a couple of bad throws, you drop a couple of passes, all those things add up to a bad game all the way around.”
Zeier said Fromm had his challenges on account of the Georgia receivers not creating separation.
“We are not creating space, so the windows that we’re having to throw the football into, in many cases it looks like an NFL game, where you’ve got elite defensive backs where your window is extremely small,” Zeier said.
“How do you help receivers get off the jam? Get them in motion, get them moving, so you don’t allow a defensive back to come up and get in your face where that first step you’ve got a problem,” Zeier said.
“You can also utilize slot receivers to get down the seam in quick fashion, get mismatches, get James Cook on the outside as opposed to having a receiver, force defenses into different looks than they are accustomed to, create mismatches with your alignment, and then get movements going and motions going to try to loosen up what defenses are trying to do.”
Zeier indicated the forecast for rain at Saturday night’s game against Kentucky should not concern Georgia fans, nor should they be worried the South Carolina loss was the start of a new trend.
“Rainy weather, with the way we can go play football, shouldn’t be a problem,” Zeier stated. “I have not one doubt in my mind; that (loss) will galvanize us as a football team and drive us to the level of excellence we have played under Kirby Smart since he’s been here.”
Georgia-Kentucky Game Week