ATHENS — The sun was barely up Monday morning and Terry Godwin hadn’t even gotten to his first class when he was hit with the question.
“Who’s going to start at quarterback this week, Fromm or Eason?” a fellow student asked Godwin on the bus.
Godwin is, of course one of Georgia’s leading receivers. So he said he gets that question all day every day. So does every other player on the team.
Imagine what it’s like for Jake Fromm and Jacob Eason. They were also riding buses and attending classes at UGA on Monday morning.
Then again, maybe it’s easier for them. Surely no one’s coming up to Fromm and asking him, “You think you’re going to start at quarterback again this week?” Or to Eason, “Do you think you should be starting instead of Jake?”
Regardless, their answers probably would be the same as the one Godwin gave his fellow passenger Monday morning.
“I don’t know but whoever the coaches put back there is going to put us in the best position to win,” Godwin shared.
He’s right, of course. And here’s the thing that’s probably not getting talked about enough in Georgia’s quarterback scenario: It’s all good.
When it comes to quarterback competitions, we tend to focus on the complication of it, the controversy of it. But what the Bulldogs have is neither complicated nor controversial.
This is a time about which UGA football fans should be nothing but grateful for the abundant blessings. Midway through a season in which they lost their starting quarterback to injury in the first quarter of the first game, the Bulldogs have not one but two proven quarterbacks they can use.
“It is comforting to know that you’ve got two experienced [QBs], where last year we really had one experienced and going into this year we had one,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Monday. “Now we like to think we’ve got two that have played at least a complete season — or 4½ games in the case of Fromm.”
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (5-0) are obviously playing great with Fromm at the controls. The freshman from Houston County has been amazing on so many levels, not the least of which is the ol’ win-loss part of the equation. Everybody can see that.
Through five games, Fromm has completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 734 yards, 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. This past Saturday, he also showed he could be a viable threat on the zone-read play, keeping the ball 7 times for 20 yards and scoring 2 TDs against Tennessee.
He hasn’t been without flaws. Fromm still makes freshman mistakes and could use a little more zip on some of his throws. Nitpicky, I know, but factual.
Meanwhile, it’s not like the Bulldogs suddenly are this offensive juggernaut. Georgia is ninth in the SEC in total offense (387 ypg), last in passing (149.6 ypg) and fifth in scoring (33.0 ppg).
Georgia hasn’t needed an all-world offense the way its defense is playing. Then again, everybody suddenly likes to compare the Bulldogs to Alabama. Well, the Crimson Tide are first in both total offense (508.6 ypg) and scoring (46.2).
So there’s room to improve the UGA offense.
Then there’s Eason.
Let’s deal with the injury part of the equation first. Even though he played this past Saturday, it’s my understanding the sophomore quarterback is still not 100 percent recovered from his left knee sprain. The heavy brace and wrapping he wore this past weekend were indicative of that.
Smart told us Monday that whichever quarterback this Saturday at Vanderbilt will be determined by how the two players look in practice this week. But I would think if Eason is physically performing at anything less than 100 percent, it would preclude him from starting over Fromm.
As for the Eason vs. Fromm comparison, we really don’t have much to compare. People point to how Georgia’s offense operated in the only three series we saw with Eason in charge as evidence. But those three fruitless possessions before Eason twisted his knee getting shoved out of bounds simply aren’t enough to go on. You simply can’t know whether he would’ve led Georgia’s offense to 31 points against App State as did Fromm.
Maybe Eason and that big strong arm would’ve torched Notre Dame’s secondary the next week. Maybe Georgia would’ve passed for 294 yards rather than ran for 294 yards against Tennessee with Eason on the field.
Or maybe he would’ve kept doing what we saw on his one chance for a TD pass against Tennessee, throw it too hard and too high for his receiver.
That, we’ll never know. What we do know is that the Bulldogs now have a different Plan B than they did at the outset of the season — and it’s a really good one. The only difference is Fromm is now Plan A and Eason is Plan B.
If Fromm goes down with a knee sprain or a concussion, Eason is the next guy in. Or, if Fromm goes into Vanderbilt Stadium this Saturday and for whatever reason can’t make the offense go, Smart can call Jim Chaney on his headset and say “get No. 10 ready. Let’s see if he can get something going.”
It’s a win-win situation. At least that’s what Godwin thinks.
“Either way the coaches go, I know we’re going to win,” Godwin said confidently. “Having two guys back there that can play just gives us a better chance.”
In Georgia’s case, two’s definitely better than one.