ATHENS – Jake Fromm, for one, didn’t know it was coming.
Georgia’s sophomore quarterback said he wasn’t directly told, nor did he gather based on practice repetitions or midweek game-planning, that Saturday against Tennessee was going the day that he and Justin Fields became a full-blown rotation at quarterback. Likewise, he doesn’t know if that’s what it’s going to be going forward.
Fromm was just glad it all worked out Saturday as the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs used a late surge to dispatch Tennessee 38-12 at Sanford Stadium.
“I had no idea going into the game,” said Fromm, who had 223 yards on 16-of-22 passing while making his 19th consecutive start at quarterback for the Bulldogs. “That’s just kind of up to Coach Smart within the flow the game.”
Fields, a freshman who was rated the No. 1 quarterback in the country coming out of Kennesaw’s Harrison High School last year, played more than he has all season. He made his first appearance with one play early in the second quarter on a possession started by Fromm. Then he handled the first half of a long scoring drive to end the half.
The mid-series substitutions continued the rest of the game to the point that they actually alternated snaps on four straight plays on Georgia’s long scoring drive that put away the game in the fourth quarter.
Fields would finish with 9 carries for 45 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. He was 1-of-2 passing for 5 yards.
Fromm didn’t complain. In fact, he went out of his way to be decidedly neutral about the whole affair in his postgame remarks.
“Yeah, that was just kind of the flow of the game,” Fromm said. “That’s up to Coach Smart. You just get the play and you go out and try to execute it.”
Smart wasn’t interested in providing a detailed explanation. He was asked about it three times during his 15-minute postgame news conference. His last two answers were simply, “The plan is there is no plan.”
Deploying Fields sporadically seemed to help get Georgia’s offense jump-started. Fromm was encountering heavy pressure from the Tennessee defense and twice was sacked and fumbled. Bringing the mobile and strong-running Fields into the contest forced the Vols to dial back the pressure and honor the quarterback run game.
Georgia’s offensive players liked what they saw from Fields.
“He did great,” tight end Isaac Nauta said. “He does well every day in practice, he’s worked hard and he’s getting a better knowledge of the quarterback position as a whole. That’s a tough thing to do with some of these complex defenses we see in the SEC all the time. But he’s done a great job. He brought a lot of juice coming off the bench and making some big plays for is.”
In the end, Georgia’s offense totaled 441 yards (251 rushing, 190 passing). But nobody on offense was particularly happy about the way the offense performed as a whole.
“It comes back to the standard we have of Georgia football,” Fromm said. “We obviously didn’t play as well as we wanted to. We didn’t put up as many points as we wanted to, but that’s just kind of the way football is. But we didn’t quite play to the standard. We were a little sloppy and didn’t execute as much as we wanted to on offense.”
Those aren’t necessarily bad problems to have when you win a conference game by 26 points.