COLUMBIA, Mo. — Jake Fromm was going against Missouri’s defense and Drew Lock faced Georgia’s. But the Bulldogs’ sophomore quarterback didn’t mind coming out of Saturday’s game with the statistical edge over the Tigers’ heralded signal-caller.
Fromm had 260 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception on 13-of-23 passing. Lock completed 23-of-48 passes for 221 yards but threw an interception and did not have touchdown pass. More importantly, Fromm’s Bulldogs won 43-29.
This is something they’d talked about. The two quarterbacks are friends after getting to know each other this summer while attending to Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La.
“Drew’s obviously a good player,” Fromm said. “I had a good time with him at the Manning Camp this summer. He’s a great guy. So, it’s awesome to have the ability to come out and compete against him. He’s a great player. But I wasn’t necessarily thinking about going toe-to-toe with him.”
Both quarterbacks got hot in the third quarter after struggling a bit in the first half. Fromm was 6-for-14 for 66 yards, no touchdowns and an interception when the Bulldogs took a 20-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. Georgia had scored touchdowns on a fumble return and a blocked punt. It was the first time since the Auburn game in 2016 that Georgia had gone a half without an offensive touchdown.
But in the second half, Fromm went 7-for-9 for 194 yards and threw three scoring strikes over a span of less than 12 minutes. Fromm connected with Riley Ridley for 33 yards, J.J. Holloman for 61 and Mecole Hardman for 54.
What was the difference?
“We challenged some guys [at halftime] and came out and got started making plays,” Fromm said. “We just came out and got ready and said, ‘Let’s go and take care of our defense, which has taken care of us.’ That was the mindset and we went out and played football.”
Asked what was the message to the offense at halftime, Georgia coach Kirby Smart said, “Wake up.”
In defense of the offense, it was an 11 a.m. kickoff locally. But that wasn’t all the head coach said.
“‘Show better composure, discipline; be who we are; execute,” Smart said. “You know, it wasn’t that the things we were doing weren’t right, we just weren’t executing a lot of them. We had a couple of RPOs batted down, we had a couple of holding calls that set us back. We just had to overcome a lot. But that’s one thing we’ve been able to do so far on offense is have some explosive plays. We had some today in the passing game.”
Indeed. In addition to the three long scoring plays, Georgia had a 24-yard pass to Elijah Holyfield and two runs of 15 or more yards, one by Holyfield and one by D’Andre Swift.
There could’ve been even more. Hardman was critical of himself for not hauling in two different passes in the end zone. One in the first quarter just escaped his grasp and another he caught but didn’t get down his foot in bounds.
Nevertheless, Hardman has now scored a touchdown in five straight games for the Bulldogs.
“There are definitely things I still need to improve on,” Hardman said. “Those are things you just keep working on in practice and they’ll come.”
Ridley led Georgia’s receivers with five catches for 87 yards, and Hardman had two for 60. Holloman caught a pass of longer than 60 yards for the second consecutive game.
“Of course, there are always a bunch of things we could do better,” Ridley said. “But we don’t really look at the scoreboard. We come out and try to execute the best as we can and if we do that the points will come.”
The coaches will have many corrections to make on Monday when the Bulldogs return to the practice field. Georgia didn’t run the ball with the authority it normally does. A couple of holds were among the seven penalties called on the Bulldogs and they were flagged for a couple of false starts as well.
But Fromm, for one, left the game feeling a lot better about things than he did jogging into the Bulldogs’ locker room at halftime. Georgia has scored more than 40 points for four consecutive games and will try to tie the 2012 team when it faces Tennessee in Athens next Saturday. The Bulldogs are averaging a gaudy 44.5 points per game.
“We have a lot of guys out there who can score, really good weapons,” he said. “We came away with a win on the road against a very, very good football team. They’re a really good football team. So it’s good that we faced some adversity. But we’ll get better this week and try to come out and play better [next] Saturday.”