ATLANTA — It was a tough day for Georgia football freshman quarterback Justin Fields, as he struggled in his limited opportunities, including a controversial fake punt.
Fields was brought in as the up-back on an apparent punt with 3:04 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied 28-28. The Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-11 at the 50 when the snap went to Fields, who looked to throw, but finding no one open ran for just a 2-yard gain.
It was a curious call that will no doubt be talked about for a long time.
Fields first entered the game on Georgia’s fifth drive at 13:22 mark of the second quarter with the game tied 7-7 and Georgia facing a first-and-10 at the Bulldogs’ 42. Fields scrambled around and couldn’t find anyone open, tucked it and ran for 2 yards
Fields was back in on Georgia’s sixth drive at the 6:27 mark of the second quarter with the Bulldogs up 14-7. The Bulldogs faced a first-and-10 at their own 49, and Fields threw incomplete on a shovel pass to Mecole Hardman.
The third playing opportunity for Fields came with the game tied 28-28 and 5:14 left, with Georgia starting a drive at its on 24. Fields was in to run the read option, but the play gained only 1 yard.
The bar has been set high for Fields since the start of this season, in part because of what Tua Tagovailoa had accomplished last January in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Tagovailoa famously came off the bench at halftime with Alabama trailing 13-0 and rallied the Crimson Tide to a 26-23 overtime victory.
Georgia had stonewalled starter Jalen Hurts in the first half last January, shutting down and shutting out the Alabama offense through the first 30 minutes to trigger the quarterback change.
Fields entered the SEC Championship Game 27-of-38 passing for 328 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions this season.
But most of that work came against non-conference competition, as the the former Harrison High School standout was just 7-of-11 passing for 86 yards with 23 carries for 110 yards rushing and 2 rushing touchdowns against Tennessee.