How is it that Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm can be considered among the top 10 Heisman Trophy candidates by Las Vegas oddsmakers, but not even make fourth team in a preseason All-SEC ranking?
That’s a question UGA fans were asking this week, including the first letter writer in the latest edition of Junkyard Mail …
Hey Bill, here’s the burning question of the week: How could Athlon magazine’s preseason preview possibly leave Jake Fromm off their All-SEC team? He was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the conference, even though he was only a freshman. And yet he doesn’t even make fourth-team All-SEC for his sophomore season? How is this possible?
— Eli Jackson
The Athlon preseason ranking that Eli refers to includes four quarterbacks: Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama (first team), Drew Lock of Missouri (second team), Jarrett Stidham of Auburn (third team) and Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State (fourth team). Athlon ranks Fromm fifth among SEC QBs.
The omission of Fromm is puzzling, especially since, with Fromm at QB, Georgia beat three of those teams and quarterbacks last season, and came within one play of beating all of them.
But, let’s keep in mind that this is only one preseason All-SEC ranking, compiled by the writers of one magazine, as opposed to a wider poll of folks covering college football, like some other All-SEC rankings.
Also, rankings like this typically are based more on general, superficial media impressions, rather than hard data. Let’s face it, for much of last season, the main impression gleaned by media members who didn’t follow the Dawgs regularly was that Georgia ran a lot more than it threw — thus, the rather lazy “game manager” tag for Fromm.
The numbers say otherwise. Fromm ranked sixth in the nation in total quarterback ranking and first in the SEC. He also ranked tied for eighth in the nation in passing efficiency, and behind only Drew Lock in the conference. Fromm completed 62.2 percent of his passes and averaged 9.0 yards per attempt, marks that were both second-best among SEC starters.
Apparently, another factor in the lack of media embrace for Fromm this season is the competition between him and incoming freshman media darling Justin Fields. Because, one team can’t have two great quarterbacks, said no coach ever.
Athlon doesn’t really justify ranking Fromm fifth behind Fitzgerald in its write-up of SEC quarterbacks. Last season, Lock and Stidham ranked first and second among conference QBs in passing yards, but Fitzgerald was 11th, six spots behind Fromm.
Athlon also admits that it is engaging in some “projection” in ranking Tagovailoa first. Aside from a few plays in garbage time during the season, that ranking primarily is based on one half of one game, which is pretty ridiculous.
On the plus side, Athlon included 13 Dawgs on its All-SEC teams, with six as first-teamers.
Bill, I heard that Gus Malzahn said recently he’d like to see Auburn’s games against Georgia and Alabama juggled so they’re not both at home or on the road in the same year. Hmmm, where have I heard that complaint before? Oh, yeah, Georgia having Auburn and Tech on the road in the same year, thanks to the SEC forcing Georgia to play two years in a row at Auburn back when they added TAMU and Mizzou. I’d like to think having Gus on board with the idea might mean this situation actually could get fixed, but I fear Greg McGarity will be his usual do-nothing self on this issue. Do you think this schedule change really might happen?
— Ben Reed
You’re referring to Malzahn’s comments talking to Birmingham, Ala., radio station WJOX, where he was asked if he’d like to break up the scheduling of Georgia and Alabama at the end of the season, and he said, instead, he’d rather not have to play both of them at home or both on the road in the same season.
“I think the big thing is having them staggered — one at home and one away [each year] would probably be the best for those two at the end,” Malzahn said. “That would be my wish.”
Such a change would suit Dawgs fans, since, under the current setup, odd years see Georgia’s game against Auburn and its game against Georgia Tech, two of its biggest rivals, both away from Athens.
Unless it might cause some long-range scheduling ramification that we don’t know about, I can’t see why the conference wouldn’t make the change, if both Auburn and UGA asked for it.
Of course, since Georgia had to play at Auburn two consecutive years (2012 and 2013) when the current schedule took effect, if it’s fixed, it should be by Auburn coming to Athens two years in a row!
I read DawgNation’s report on how Georgia’s football salaries have doubled to $9.4 million, mainly because of Kirby Smart’s new $6.6 million salary. That’s a mighty big pay boost. It makes me wonder if this actually raises the pressure on Kirby. With him making nearly $7 million a year, will we settle for just winning the SEC East? Will anything less than the playoff every year be a disappointment? Will a couple of seasons that don’t include an SEC championship put him on the hot seat?
— Albany Andy
Well, yeah, possibly. Smart is getting paid the big bucks to keep Georgia at the elite level it played at last season, and, so, anything less will be a letdown.
However, as I wrote back in the winter, I don’t really see that happening. If Smart continues to recruit at the level he’s shown so far to go along with the increased financial support UGA now is giving the football program, that should go a long way toward making the Dawgs a regular College Football Playoff contender.
As for the coming season, despite losing a lot of big-name talent from the 2017 team, expectations for the Dawgs are running high, with many forecasting a repeat SEC East title at the very least.
Hey Bill, since we usually play a couple (and sometimes three) cupcake nonconference games a year, why don’t we schedule more local in-state programs like Georgia State or Kennesaw State? I know we occasionally play Georgia Southern, but I think it would be interesting to schedule other Georgia schools too. What are your thoughts, and Go Dawgs!!
I’d be all for it. If you’re going to play a cupcake, and charge fans $55 per seat for such a game, why not make it one with at least a modicum of local interest?
So, yeah, I’d like to see Georgia continue to schedule Georgia Southern every few years, and I think adding the occasional game against Georgia State (which, like Southern, is part of the Sun Belt Conference) would be fun, too.
The other major Atlanta metro area Division I football program, Kennesaw State, plays in the lower Football Conference Subdivision, and I’d frankly like to see Georgia avoid scheduling any more FCS opponents. But, if Kennesaw ever moves up to the bowl subdivision, I’d say add them to the mix, too.