ATHENS – There are many who believe that Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm might redshirt now as a result of Brice Ramsey’s decision to return for his senior season. I’m not one of them.
However, I definitely think the Ramsey Factor could alter how the Bulldogs handle their quarterbacks in the 2017 season.
Before Ramsey decided to scrap his graduate transfer plans, Fromm and incumbent starter Jacob Eason were all Georgia had to man the quarterback position this fall. Well, there is walk-on Sam Vaughn, of course, and another walk-on, Stetson Bennett IV, who will join the Bulldogs this fall. But, realistically, Eason and Fromm were all Georgia coaches could plan to play with from a preparation and strategy standpoint.
That meant that when Georgia opens with Appalachian State this season, the coaching staff would be looking for the first opportunity to put Fromm into the game. That’s not to say that the Bulldogs would be expecting to get up big on the Mountaineers – ask Tennessee about that – or that they’re worried about what they have in Eason. On the contrary. That’s to say that with a trip to Notre Dame awaiting the following week, and with the SEC slate just around the corner, there was going to be a premium on getting the freshman from Houston County some much-needed experience as quickly as possible.
Thanks to Ramsey’s presence, that might not be as big of a priority. Now maybe Georgia can think about not having to play Fromm.
Still, I still think they prepare Fromm from week-to-week as the No. 2 QB. You never know what might happen in the course of a given game. Injuries happen; players have bad days. But right now, if Eason tweaks an ankle or needs to come out for any reason, you run No. 12 (Ramsey) out there for a series or two rather than No. 11 (Fromm).
You’ll note here that I’m not talking about a scenario that has Fromm out there first. It’s an assumption on my part, but I simply don’t see him overtaking Eason as the starter. Not from the jump anyway.
I’ve stated before that I believe Fromm’s an exceptional quarterback who brings some special skills to the position. But I don’t see him outperforming Eason in practices and scrimmages to the point the coaching staff would want to change quarterbacks heading into the season. If Fromm ends up being the starter, it’ll be because Eason got hurt or demonstrated through a good portion of the season that he couldn’t get the job done.
Of course, nobody but Kirby Smart and those coaches inside the offensive meetings know exactly what they believe they have in Eason or Fromm. All we’re going to get heading into the fall is coach speak and rhetoric designed to keep both parties motivated and focused. And that’s understandable.
We all have a pretty good idea of what they have in Ramsey, I think. That is a solid, if unspectacular, veteran quarterback who is going to know the system and terminology backward and forward and can get you through a tight spot if needed. He’s a stopgap, a safety valve, if you will.
Granted, a lot of my opinion here is based on a kind of reading of the tea leaves. But I’ve noticed the narrative coming from Smart has changed slightly from what we were hearing pre-spring. Then it was that Fromm was strong where Eason was weak and very much could beat out the returning starter. I’m not getting that vibe now based on Smart’s actions or comments.
Look no further than Smart’s most recent answer to the quarterback queries he received from the SEC Network’s Peter Burns in a piece that ran in conjunction with the U.S. Open over the weekend. Talking football as they hit balls on the driving range at the UGA Golf Course, Smart made it clear that he very much likes what he has been seeing from Eason.
“Jacob’s gotten a lot better,” Smart told Burns. “At the time you didn’t realize how difficult it was for [Eason last season] until you’ve seen how far he has come. You realize, ‘Wow, he was a long way away and having to play.’ And now, with everything he knows and his ability, he’s been able to pick things up, go faster. He throws [hot reads] faster. He sees things so much better. It’s made it tough on our defense. When he throws a ball, it gets there quick. When he knows where he’s going with it, he’s pretty accurate.”
Smart has been pretty consistent in his feedback of Eason in that regard. And it follows that the former 5-star prospect from Washington state would show marked improvement from Year 1 and Year 2. And the same could be expected of Fromm.
No matter how good or bad Eason looks this season, or Fromm for that matter, Georgia is not resting on its laurels. Look for Fromm to get in if and when he can. But thanks to Ramsey’s return, there’s no pressure to force that.