ATLANTA — Tim Tebow wasn’t the only former SEC quarterback to heap praise on Jake Fromm on the eve of the conference championship game. Jordan Rodgers also gushed about the true freshman’s “moxie” and “savviness” Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Rodgers, an SEC Network analyst, said Georgia’s Nov. 11 loss at Auburn was a crucial rite of passage for the Bulldogs’ young passer, who connected on just 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown in the blowout defeat.
“He grew up a full year in a game, essentially,” the former Vanderbilt quarterback said. “Having not been tested too much earlier in the season. He got thrown in the fire … You hold your head a little higher after those moments. Even if it is a loss. So I expect him to be more prepared for the adversity. We’re gonna see a more grown-up Jake Fromm.”
Auburn’s defensive line was scary in the first matchup, racking up 4 sacks while keeping Georgia’s elite running game at bay (all while blitzing only twice on passing downs, per Rodgers).
Rodgers sees an easy fix for the Bulldogs on Saturday: Make Fromm more of a moving target.
“That slows them down,” he said. “You get those front four guys moving laterally, so you do some play-action, some rollout, some boot stuff off the run game with Fromm, you’re gonna see a little more success … I’d get Fromm outside the pocket as much as possible, as early as possible, so at least it’s in those guys’ head that they can’t just pin their ears back and go at that spot eight yards back in the pocket.”
If Fromm gets some breathing room — and his receivers can get some separation — Georgia might be able to hit some of the big plays it missed in November. Rodgers called Fromm and Javon Wims a “dangerous duo,” and lauded Fromm for his strong leadership ability as a 19-year-old.
“One of the most overblown but also most accurate depictions or describers would be ‘moxie,'” Rodgers said. “To me, he’s got an edge to him and a savviness that’s well beyond his years. I think he’s one of those guys that he makes the guys around him play to a higher level.
“You can’t put that on a piece of paper. Because on a piece of paper, he may not be as tall as you want him to be. He may not have as strong of an arm as Eason does. He’s mobile. He’s tough. And he makes guys around him better. And he can change momentum. He can change the mentality of a team.”
One thing that’s out of Fromm’s control: Whether or not star Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson will be healthy enough to play Saturday. Rodgers said Johnson is the key to the game, as the Tigers need him to power their über-efficient offense.
But regardless of Johnson’s status, fans shouldn’t expect to see another ugly performance from the ‘Dawgs.
“It’s not gonna be 40-17,” Rodgers said. “I can tell you that.”