ATHENS — Georgia football quarterback Justin Fields’ laser-like throw and 100 yards of rushing opened some eyes around the country, but no one on the coaching staff or the team was surprised by what the freshman accomplished in the 66-27 win over UMass.
“Yeah, I see that game every day and I see him go out there and do good things with the ball and make good decisions,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s getting better with his vision downfield and making good decisions with the ball. He continues to grow and get better. That’s not surprising. I see him do that a lot in practice.”
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Fields was 5-of-8 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns — but it could have easily been 154 yards and three touchdowns had a pass in the end zone not been dropped. Further, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound fields led No. 5-ranked Georgia with 100 yards rushing and a TD on seven carries.
It made Fields the first UGA quarterback to rush for 100 yards since Quincy Carter accomplished the feat in 1998 against Kentucky, going for 107 yards in a 49-34 win over the Wildcats.
Fields was in for 26 of UGA’s 62 plays before being relieved by third-team QB Matthew Downing(17 plays) in the fourth quarter.
Fields wasn’t perfect: Smart pointed out he made a bad decision on a bubble screen that could have been a pick-6 had the defender been more alert, and he also took a sack.
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But the performance was promising and likely much-needed for Fields, whose playing time had been somewhat limited the second half of the season.
Jake Fromm, who ran his record to 22-3 as a starter with the win, going 5-of-5 passing for 106 yards and a TD with his 19 snaps, said he sees Fields show his skills every day on the practice field.
“He makes plays during practice with his arm and with his legs so that’s nothing new to see,” Fromm said. “The guy is a playmaker and he made plays today.”
Receiver Mecole Hardman was on the receiving end of one of Fields’ more impressive plays, a 57-yard pass in the second quarter.
The throw was so sharp and well-timed, one would have thought Fields had thrown it to Hardman 100 times in games.
“We definitely get some passes from Justin in practice, and he does it all the time, so it’s no surprise he threw that thing,” Hardman said. “But it did surprise me because they were in a Cover Three look or Cover Four look, but he threw it and I caught it.”
Hardman said the Georgia offense believes in Fields, who continues to get better at reading defenses and processing progressions and coverages more quickly.
“I got all the confidence in Justin, he did his thing, he does it all the time in practice, and we expect him to do that,” Hardman said. “We have no fall off when he gets in the game, so when he gets in the game we’ll run the ball and throw the ball.
“Kudos to him, he just has to keep working hard, and everything he got, he deserved.”
Georgia tailback Elijah Holyfield said he knew Fields could run, but it was also good to see him throw the deep ball to Hardman.
“He likes to run and he always claims that he can come in and play running back, too, so he likes to be a little more physical than he should sometimes,” Holyfield said. “But I was pretty happy to see him throw that touchdown to Mecole, because not a lot of people get to see his arm strength, but we see it every day in practice.”
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