Why the Auburn game will be ‘fun’ for Jake Fromm and more we learned about Georgia football this week
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Jake Fromm looks to enjoy ‘fun’ game against Auburn
This weekend figures to be a big game for Jake Fromm and not just because it’s another chance for him to pick up a win over a top program.
For one, he’ll get a chance to make amends for one of his less than stellar performances in his Georgia career. When Fromm played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2017 — as a freshman — he completed only 46 percent of his passes for 184 yards. Georgia got stomped that day, losing 40-17.
Just a few weeks later, Fromm completed 16 of his 22 passes in a 28-7 win for the Bulldogs. When Kirby Smart was asked about Fromm this week and how he’s changed since that first Auburn game, the Georgia coach said his quarterback is largely the same person.
“He’s just older. That was one of his first real road games that I remember,” Fromm said. “He did some things in that game but it’s always a challenge when you go play on the road. I don’t care what year you are. He’s got a lot of experience playing on the road in the SEC.
It will also be a big game for Fromm personally. Because on the other sideline, will be Fromm’s younger brother Tyler. He is a freshman tight end for Auburn.
When Jake spoke after the Missouri win, he mentioned that playing against his younger brother was something that he was looking forward to.
“It’ll be fun,” Jake said about the matchup against his brother after Georgia’s 27-0 win over Missouri on Saturday. “That’ll be really fun for us, fun for our family. We’ll be ready to go. I can’t wait to see him next weekend.”
It’s been tough sledding for Georgia running back D’Andre Swift in the last two weeks. He’s been held under 100-yards rushing, due largely to the fact that opposing teams are stacking the box.
But Swift is still second in the conference in rushing yards per game and third in yards per attempt among players with at least 100 carries. He’s likely to top the 1,000-yard mark on the season against Auburn, as he enters the game with 921 rushing yards.
And Swift has been an Auburn killer in the past. As a freshman, his 64-yard touchdown put the SEC championship game on ice. Then as a sophomore, he rolled up 186 rushing yards on the Tigers, which is a career-high for Swift. If Georgia can get a similar performance this weekend, it should bode very well for the Bulldogs.
We wrote a good bit about George Pickens earlier this week and why this will be a big game for him. You can read more on that story here.
As for Georgia’s other big wide receiver, the expectation is that senior Lawrence Cager will be able to give it a go this weekend. He left the Missouri game with a left shoulder injury that’s been nagging him for most of the season.
“He’s very tough,” Smart said of Cager. “He’s playing with a tough injury to deal with, but it’s his choice. Once the doctors clear him he has to make a choice if he wants to play or not and, absolutely, he wants to play. I mean, he’s a competitor. That’s why he came here. The last thing he wants to do is say, ‘well, I’m going to take this week off and not play in this game and heal up.’ That’s not his perspective.”
Prior to leaving the Missouri game, Cager had 6 catches for 93 yards. That comes just after a 7-catch, 132-yard game against Florida. It’s clear that when he’s on the field, Cager is a difference-maker for the Georgia passing offense.
It was a big week for Ben Cleveland. First, he displayed a brand new mohawk prior to the Missouri game.
File this under never pictured it, but certainly makes sense. Ben Cleveland is rocking a mohawk tonight. … Big Country means business tonight. pic.twitter.com/RhKqY1fj5P
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) November 9, 2019
And it looked like the old axiom, “look good, play good,” worked as Cleveland was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against the Tigers.
“He’s done a tremendous job. He was playing really good the other night, getting a lot of movement, getting a good pad level,” Smart said. “And usually when Ben plays well we play well. He helps get us a lot of power over on the right side. So he did a nice job in that game and graded out well, and was happy to get him that award.”
Georgia will need Cleveland to play well on Saturday, as Georgia has the unenviable of trying to block Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. The two are some of the best defensive linemen in the SEC.
For as much talk as there’s been about Brown this week, Georgia has its own monster in the middle of its defense. We’re talking about defensive tackle Jordan Davis. The 6-foot-6 sophomore has become a key reason Georgia has one of the best run defenses in the country, as the Bulldogs are the only team that has not yet allowed a touchdown.
Davis showed flashes of this a season ago, as his introduction into the lineup later in the season helped Georgia’s late-season surge in 2018.
Now he’s become the most important piece on Georgia’s defensive front.
“He’s been really consistent. He embraces his role and he’s tough to block. He’s a big part of our run-stopping game,” Smart said.
Smart also brought up that there was one game where Davis was battling an ankle injury, which affected his play. That game was against South Carolina, which is the Bulldogs’ only loss this season.
Nolan Smith picked up his first SEC sack of the season against Missouri. It was really only a matter of time, given how Smith has been close to bringing down a number of quarterbacks.
And teammate Michael Barnett says the timing of Smith’s first sack isn’t a coincidence.
“He’s becoming more confident. Just like with Jordan (Davis) last year, he’s just building that confidence,” Barnett said. “It’s that transition from high school to college and once they become more comfortable, you start to see them really flourish in their element.”
Smith, Jermaine Johnson and Azeez Ojulari make up Georgia’s pass rush from an edge rusher standpoint. Those three are going to need to have a strong game against Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix. The Tigers are third in the SEC in sacks allowed on the season.
We’re going to use this section to talk a little bit more about Davis, who is a defensive tackle. But his play has been so outstanding hit season that he’s allowed inside linebacker Monty Rice, Tae Crowder, Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean to excel this season.
“JD can be a game-wrecker when he wants to be,” Rice said. “He can make unbelievable plays. It’s just all up to him. He makes life easier by choking out the centers and being disruptive. I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Crowder was named one of the semi-finalists for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. Crowder has been able to make the plays that he has in part because of Davis.
Junior defensive back Richard LeCounte came up with his second interception of the season last week. It’s been a strong campaign for the junior, especially when there were some concerns about his tackling ability.
And this week Smart spoke at length about LeCounte and how he’s been able to get to this point.
“ The difference in Richard now and then is he’s bought in a little more into the understanding of what I have to do within this system, what is my job,” Smart said. “And I have to make calls and decisions on my side of the field that are critical to our success. And I said after the game, I think in the last two to three weeks, he’s taken a little more ownership in that.”
LeCounte and safety J.R. Reed will have a big challenge this week as they’ll be tasked with keeping Anthony Schwartz bottled up. Schwartz is the fastest player in college football and Auburn will look to get the speedster in a variety of ways.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- 7 Georgia football players to watch vs. Auburn, slugfest pending
- Georgia football podcast: Kirby Smart might have something to prove vs. Gus Malzahn
- Georgia football podcast: FOX analyst rips UGA for No. 4 ranking
- What the national media is saying before Georgia plays Auburn
- Georgia football injury report: Bruised Bulldogs hungry for opportunities