ATHENS – To look at the final score and his statistical line, one would think Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm would be basking in the afterglow of the Bulldogs’ 49-7 win over Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
Instead, the sophomore signal-caller was bemoaning what he deemed one of the poorer offensive days for the Bulldogs in a while.
“We had a few penalties, some negative plays,” Fromm said afterward. “We just weren’t as clean as we wanted to be.”
Elijah Holyfield was even stronger in his criticism.
“We probably had our most undisciplined day as an offense,” the junior running back said.
Particularly distressing was a pair of sacks the Bulldogs allowed. Fromm was dropped twice for a total of 11 yards.
Most alarming was the first one, which took place in Georgia’s end zone. The Bulldogs’ faced third-and-12 at their own 9 when Fromm stood in the pocket for what seemed like several seconds.
Finally, Middle Tennessee’s Jahmal Jones broke through Georgia’s protection and wrapped up Fromm in a violent bear hug a yard deep in the end zone. The contact knocked the football loose and, fortunately for the Bulldogs, the ball bounded forward out of the end zone. Guard Ben Cleveland alertly jumped on the ball at the Georgia 2-yard line, and the Bulldogs punted the ball away from there.
“I had a quick thought of picking it up and running for a first down, but my mind went to get the ball and don’t let them get it,” said Georgia’s 6-foot-6, 345-pound sophomore lineman.
Fromm got sacked again early in the third quarter. Again, the Bulldogs found themselves facing third-and-long, and Fromm found himself with no options as his three receivers were all covered on deep routes. Fromm dodged the initial pressure but failed to get rid of the football before before being corralled by two Blue Raider defenders for a 4-yard loss.
“That’s something I’ll definitely get fixed next week during practice,” Fromm said. “We’ll try to come out and be better next Saturday.”
Georgia coach Kirby Smart defended his quarterback on the first sack but not necessarily on the second.
“One time we got beat in protection, so that was on the protection,” Smart said. “We’re in base protection and he should be protected. He should be able to hold the ball. The other one they played a coverage that took away what we did on the route structure and he had nowhere to go with the ball. We’d love for him to throw it away there and not take the sack.”
Not to get lost on all that was Fromm’s good work on what amounted to five offensive series. By the time he deferred to Justin Fields for good late in the second quarter, Georgia had 382 yards offense and led Middle Tennessee 35-7. Fromm left having completed 10 of his 12 passes for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“We had a few explosive plays and had some help from the defense and special teams, too,” Fromm said. “Negative plays and penalties got us.”
The Bulldogs were flagged a season-high six times for 49 yards and had plays come back on two holding penalties and two false starts.
Georgia will need to be much cleaner in what could be a score-fest next week on the road against Missouri.
“We were sloppy at times organizationally … and we got some silly, stupid penalities early on offense,” Smart said. “But they came out fast, they came out physical and they answered the challenge, which was to own the standard.”
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