OXFORD, Miss. — There will be moments this season when Jacob Eason, because of his talent, size and fearlessness, will be able to rescue a flawed and wounded Georgia team, as he did last week against Missouri. And then there will be games like the one Saturday that remind us: 1) He’s a freshman; 2) This team just isn’t good enough in any area to overcome freshman quarterback mistakes.
The Dogs looked like anything but a top 25 team — or remotely like an SEC contender — Saturday against Ole Miss. They were boat-raced 31-0 in the first half, looked up to a 45-0 deficit in the third quarter and ultimately lost 45-14.
Yes, the new Georgia under Kirby Smart looked like the old Georgia under Mark Richt … or worse. For my complete column on the game, click here.
But I wanted to write a little separate here on Eason. He was not good against Ole Miss. In the first quarter, he forced a ball into coverage and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdowns and dropped Georgia into a 10-0 hole. He completed only 16 of 36 passes for 137 yards with zero touchdowns. He made some bad reads and missed some open receivers. In his defense, Georgia receivers dropped at least three passes, including a would-be touchdown (Jayson Stanley).
Smart’s post-game analysis of his freshman: “He didn’t run the offense efficiently. He’s got to get better. He’s got to command the huddle and communicate better. I think he grew up some, took some shots. It’s the first time he’s really been hit. He got rocked a couple of times. But he still fought.”
Of Eason’s interception, Smart said: “He saw the wrong coverage. He threw it to the wrong guy. And hey, you can throw it to the wrong guy. He’s gotten away with that some. But he threw behind him and to the wrong guy, which is lethal.”
That said, Smart would be the first to tell you that when a team loses by such a lopsided scorer, it’s not on one player, even the most important player. Eason was sacked three times and took a beating, The offensive line neither protected well nor run-blocked when it needed to most. The defense may be worse.
This just isn’t a very good team right now. Down 31-0 at halftime and what did Georgia do to open the second half? Went offside . . . on the kickoff.
Next week is the Tennessee game. Is this about to get worse? Maybe.
Nick Chubb left Saturday’s game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle and never returned. Smart said Chubb wanted to come back in and wasn’t able to. But we’ll never know if the lopsided score merely dissuaded Smart from putting Chubb back in.
Without Chubb or a running game, Georgia is a mediocre team. Even with Chubb, they may not be a very good one. The natural inclination in football is to look at a quarterback’s poor numbers in situations like this and say, “It’s his fault.”
But anybody who believed Eason would be able to rescue a bad team this season wasn’t being realistic. The Dogs have too many other areas that need fixing.
GAME COLUMN: New Georgia looks a lot like the old Georgia
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