Tim Tebow Q&A: Georgia game plan, Jake Fromm, Justin Fields and LSU X-factor
SEC football legend Tim Tebow took some time with DawgNation to dive into hot Georgia football topics with the league championship game approaching.
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) are a touchdown underdog to No. 2-ranked LSU (12-0) in the SEC Championship Game at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Tebow indicated Georgia doesn’t want to get into a track meet with this explosive Tigers’ offense.
But the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback also believes LSU could have its challenges against the Bulldogs’ defense.
“I think if you’re Georgia, you want to play that possession game and be smart, control it, and then score when you have your chances,” Tebow said on Thursday. “And then see what your defense can do.”
LSU, Tebow says, has only faced one defense comparable to the Bulldogs, and that was a 23-20 win over Auburn.
“LSU was at home and only scored 23 points, so I think there’s some things like that Georgia can see that should give them confidence,” Tebow said. “They can say, ‘We went to Jordan-Hare Stadium and beat an Auburn team that took LSU to the wire.’ ”
Here are some other thoughts Tebow shared on Georgia football:
How should Jake Fromm and Georgia approach this game?
Tebow: “For me where I’ve been vocal on Jake is to put more of the burden on him and let him win it earlier. He’s a great decision maker, and he’s not going to put you in harm’s way, so he can handle that pressure. He’s going to have to make some big plays to win this game, but I also think they are going to have to be balanced. So they are gong to need to play ball control. I think they’re going to need to take their time. I think they are going to need to be able to convert on third downs to keep the ball.
“You want to think about this as a possession game. So, OK, if Georgia can hold LSU to 10 or less possessions, that’s a win for Georgia. You say if we can get the last possession of the first half, and the first possession of the second half, we’re going to hold them to three or four (possessions) in the first half, and maybe four in the second half, and really game plan it out like that.
“I think that’s what Kirby will do. I think they will take their shots to be aggressive here and there, but they know you don’t want to give Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson and this offense a lot of chances to get it going and roll.”
What is your take on the criticism Jake Fromm is receiving and the comparisons to Justin Fields?
Tebow: “It’s crazy that the first quarterback since Danny Wuerffel to go to three SEC championships in a row is getting any criticism. I still think Jake is one of the better quarterbacks in the country. I think Justin has had a spectacular season, and he was someone I always believed in to a certain extent, when he got in the right fit, in the right scheme, in the right offense.
“But I also think if you are Georgia last year, it’s tough to ever say ‘We’re going to pull Jake, one of the best quarterbacks in the country,’ for another guy who has great talent. It’s just a tough situation to be in. I’m happy both of the kids are doing extremely well.
“I know Jake hasn’t put up the numbers he would have liked this season, but if you put on the film and you watch him play, he’s still doing so much to help the team. I think one of the biggest things is his receivers aren’t necessarily getting open a lot in one on ones, they’re not winning that much.
“It’s especially tough when you have your best receiver hurt and on and off the field through the year, Lawrence Cager. Then (George) Pickens, a very talented receiver, he’s kinda of been on and off, and now he’s missing the first half. That makes it a hard.
“I would tell Jake, ‘Hey, you’ve got to your third SEC Championship Game in a row, you got to a national championship game, now it’s your job to go try to finish it.’ ”
What about the whole aspect of Justin Fields choosing to transfer?
Tebow: “For Justin, I’m so happy he’s doing well. I got the chance to be there at Ohio State and spend some time with him in the quarterback room. I support him as well, I think he’s got a lot of football ahead of him, too. Both of these guys are great quarterbacks, it’s not an easy place to be in and it’s not an easy decision.
“It’s not a judgment on Justin at all. I think for him it obviously was the right move. Some people say ‘Hey you need to stay and stick it out when you go to a school,’ but it’s different when you’re a quarterback versus other positions. For the most p art, only one quarterback steps on the field, and it’s one person’s job.Other positions, you have five or six receivers play, four or five linebackers, a bunch of defensive linemen, and so on.
“But as a quarterback, it’s hard. There are a lot of great players that truly never got a shot, and we’ll never know what they could have done. So I don’t knock someone going to try to live out their dream one bit, I would never knock Justin for that.”
How does this Georgia defense compare to the one that faced Alabama in last year’s SEC Championship Game?
Tebow: think it is a better defense, top to bottom. I think what they did last year was expose a few things on Alabama and make it hard on them for a while. And if Tua (Tagovailoa) stays in that game and Jalen (Hurts) doesn’t come in, Alabama loses that football game. I think what made it really hard is they had a different style of running quarterback in the game with Jalen, and they had to adjust. And then their offense kind of sputtered at the end.
“But I think what Kirby does so well, and I was on the opposite sideline of him too many times where you know he does a very similar approach to Bill Belichick. He wants to take away what they do well.
“Last year that was to take away giving Tua time in the pocket and hitting him early, and getting to his feet early, making him move, and getting right in front of him and they were able to capitalize on some turnovers.
“I think you will see some similar things in Georgia trying to exploit ways to stop LSU that maybe other people haven’t been able to do.
“I think they’ll try to take away explosive plays, and I think they’ll try to get pressure up the middle. Tackling in space, that will be huge. I think you’ll see some disguise (defenses), trying to show, ‘hey, we’re going to give them one-high (safety), and then roll to a two-high and try to trap some corners. Little things like that in different situations, take a few risks and try to gamble to see if they can get them in some tough situations.”
Many have pointed to LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the X-Factor, why?
Tebow: “He is a different animal. I think we all talk about Joe Burrow, and we should, but we’ve got to mention Clyde because he’s so versatile and makes them so hard to stop. When he can get third-and-1 from the backfield, and he can catch swing passes, and be in motion and be a slot (receiver), and then motion out and be an X (receiver) and win on one-on-one patterns.
“He ran a corner route versus Alabama for a touchdown and smoked a linebacker. That’s so hard, because as a defense we say, ‘How are we going to play this? What personnel are we going to call against it?’ And then you see him and he motions out and then it’s ‘Oh boy, we’ve got our middle linebacker on him.’
It creates mismatches, and that’s why I think he gives the LSU offense such an X-Factor, because he’s just so versatile. That will be one of the biggest things to look for, if you can contain and stop him, especially on third down.”
Tebow’s interview was made possible through the work of the All-State Good Works Team. Tebow, himself was selected to the team at Florida, like Fromm was this season at Georgia.
“It’s one of the few awards given to young men for who they are off the field not just what they do on the field,” Tebow said. “There’s a lot of awards for touchdowns and championships but very few for making a difference in other people’s lives.”