Georgia football quarterback situation sparks controversy among national analysts
ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney don’t have any sort of controversy in how they are handling quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Justin Fields.
The Bulldogs players haven’t shown any signs of choosing sides or having a preference, either.
But national college football analysts are arguing their points, and as long as Georgia remains a championship contender, it will remain a popular topic of conversation.
Much of what is being discussed in the national media has been reported by the local beat writers and hashed over by fans on message boards such as the DawgNation Forum.
Smart has emphasized it’s a fluid situation, and said “The plan is there is no plan.”
Because of the way quarterback competitions played out at other national title contending schools like Alabama and Clemson, many are honing in on Georgia’s developing situation.
“At some point one of those guys will have to to prove they are better,” SEC Network analyst and former Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers told DawgNation on Friday.
“That’s going to happen at some point down the road when they do face adversity, and we’ll see that in the next three or four games. At some point we’re going to sort things out in the next three or four weeks.”
Saturday, on ESPN”s College GameDay, analysts Kirk Herbstreit and David Pollack had a testy exchange, according to 247sports.
“…. Are we going to start seeing Fields? I personally hope not because Fromm … could be another Clemson type of situation,” Herbstreit said. “Is Fields good? Is he ok? Is he going to leave?”
Pollack responded: “I think you’ll continue to see more of him and him in certain packages. You saw him last week more. Kirby (Smart) will tell you, he’s told the media and he’s told everybody that there’s no plan in place, but Justin Fields is too good not to be on the field. I know you don’t like that from a quarterback standpoint, Kirk, but you’ll continue to see him.”
Herbstreit told DawgNation before the season that Georgia should be “very cautious” with how it handles the quarterbacks.
But that, “at some point, you have to go with who you’re going to go with.”
The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs play Vanderbilt at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium in a game that sets up for Fromm to be more aggressive with his calls at the line of scrimmage.
Fields, meanwhile, looks more comfortable and accomplished every time he’s under center for Georgia, sparking a touchdown drive and finishing to others with scoring runs in the 38-12 win over Tennessee.
Rodgers shared his take on what’s happening for the Bulldogs.
“I think what we’re going to start to see in the passing game is allowing Jake to throw it on more occasions, and maybe even throw it 30 times a game in a manageable way, and that is going to open up the run game, so you’re not just running it to run it,” Rodgers said. “I think (Tennessee) was the first game that we saw Fields play out of necessity, he came in five minutes left in the second quarter.
“Kirby reiterated it, he said they needed a spark, and that’s what Justin can do.”
Fromm provides a pre-snap read like few others, Rodgers said.
“The first thing you notice is how much he controls before the snap,” said Rodgers, who observed Fromm at the Manning Passing Academy last summer. “What he does with his mind, what he does with adjustments, plays you wouldn’t even notice that he’s making adjustments on.
“Talking to Jim Chaney, he’ll do things that they haven’t even talked about yet, he’ll make checks in the run game that are not built in yet, that haven’t been discussed, or that are from four or five weeks ago.”
Rodgers said that while Fields’ has appeared somewhat limited in his appearances, people shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking the freshman quarterback will be limited to running packages.
“Kirby said today that Justin is not a package quarterback,” Rodgers said Friday night. “He said, ‘that’s not who he is, we’re gonna continue to develop him as a quarterback.’ “
Indeed, because Rodgers explains there are things Fields can bring to the game that Fromm can not.
“He’s dynamic, and when you are lacking explosive plays in the run, which they are, a quarterback that can run the football adds an extra blocker to the attack,” Rodgers said. “It adds a scheme change to what you have to do on defense to account for that, which allows your running backs to have better holes, so I think it’s interesting.
“If Fields can continue to — with the bullets flying — protect the football like Jake does, he’s gonna keep getting more time.”
As long as Georgia keeps winning, it’s a discussion that most Bulldogs fans can live with, regardless of how the media chooses to portray it.
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