ATHENS – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, still basking in the glow of his team’s 49-16 drubbing of Temple in the season opener, was asked how he thought the injury of Jacob Eason might affect the Bulldogs as they come to South Bend for the highly anticipated matchup on Saturday.
In a nutshell, he said, not much.
“Well, certainly both quarterbacks are at Georgia because they’re capable of being a starting quarterback,” Kelly said during a Sunday teleconference call with reporters. “You’re going to, obviously, respect the fact that Georgia has built their offense around two outstanding senior running backs, and they’re not going to put either quarterback in a position that they have to go out and win the football game. They’re going to be certainly asked to take care of the football, be smart, make good decisions.”
Kelly didn’t say whether Notre Dame expects to see Eason play. The sophomore starter injured his left knee 8½ minutes into the home opener against Appalachian State on Saturday. Coach Kirby Smart said Eason suffered a sprain and not a tear, but could not say how long he might be sidelined.
Eason was relieved by freshman Jake Fromm, who played well while leading the Bulldogs offense to 31 unanswered points. Fromm finished with 143 yards on 10-of-15 passing and threw a 34-yard touchdown to Javon Wims as Georgia won 31-10.
As Kelly alluded, tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel did most of the heavy lifting in the opener. They combined for 183 yards on 31 carries and scored 3 touchdowns. The Bulldogs rushed for 221 of their 368 yards of offense.
Kelly said the Fighting Irish are aware of both Georgia quarterbacks from recruiting. Eason’s father, Tony Eason, played wide receiver for Notre Dame in 1985-86. Fromm, a consensus 4-star prospect, also was a national recruit.
“We know them both,” Kelly said. “… They’re both really good players. But, again, this will come down to featuring two outstanding running backs.”
The Fighting Irish were debuting their own first-time starter at quarterback in Brandon Wimbush. The junior completed 17 of 30 passes for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. He also ran for 106 yards on 12 carries, including an 8-yard touchdown run.
Notre Dame had three players go over 100 yards rushing in the same game for the first time since the 1950s. Running back Josh Adams finished with 161 yards on 19 carries, and Dexter Williams added 124 yards on 6 carries.
Kelly was asked if his team’s preparations will be any different for an SEC team than they were for Temple. Notre Dame thoroughly dominated the visiting Owls.
“Our preparation won’t change. There’s different tactical things that we’ll change because the opponent changes, but our preparation won’t change. We’ll go back to, obviously, [Monday] as a mental day for us. But we’ll hit the week in terms of our preparation the same regardless of who the opponent is.”