Han Vance on Georgia Football: There is no quarterback controversy in Athens.
When head coach Kirby Smart replaced ousted winner Mark Richt as the highest-paid employee in the state of Georgia, his first order of business after a presser was re-recruiting and obtaining the services of all-world high schooler Jacob Eason. The exurban Washingtonian stood a towering full-half-foot over Georgia legend Aaron Murray – the SEC’s stat leader out of Florida who had come within four yards of probable everlasting glory in Atlanta. He had the arm strength of number one overall NFL draft pick Matthew Stafford, the gunslinger who joined UGA from Texas and peaked as a leader with a number two national finish his sophomore year. Did he have the intangibles of the player who left UGA with the (then-) most wins in college football history, David Greene? Time would quickly tell if he possessed moxie and grit, like the guy who finished number three in the nation his sophomore season.
Folks forget or don’t know that graduate transfer Greyson Lambert went 11-2 as a starter at Georgia, and he outright won the starting job entering the Kirby Smart era. Smart did not go with the guy with the most talent in the opener. He went with the vet. Then when the ultra-conservative game manager struggled to move the ball consistently, Eason came off the bench. The Dawgs won the game and the sky was the limit – the wheels fell off and his team went 8-5.
Year two saw Jake Fromm outplay Jacob Eason in preseason practice periods, according to multiple insider sources. Jake pushed Jacob, according to all. Eason was the outright starter to the season, and only lost his starting spot due to injury. I’m talking about a player with a sub-par completion percentage, who was known to be much less than fully football focused. I personally saw him hanging out the night before the 11 a.m. kick Liberty Bowl in Memphis, and he did not exactly have his game face on – wearing a tight Euro suit with flowing locks and (apparently) fake-talking into his pricey cellphone to avoid speaking to traveling Georgia fans who could have used a little goodwill, as the team sat just one win above .500 then.
If Eason, on a confidence high out of high school, could not unseat average joe, Lambert. And, Fromm could not unseat an Eason who had visibly regressed in confidence. There is zero chance an up-and-down, uber-talented Justin Fields will replace the hyper-focused and talented himself Jake Fromm for the opener.
Could Fromm (12-2 as a starter and 13-2 in games where he appeared) get hurt or struggle without the safety net of NFLers Chubb/Sony/Roquan controlling games and get replaced? Sure, but he is much more likely to get hurt than to struggle at all in Athens with Austin Peay or Middle Tennessee State, in the opener and game three.
Games two and four are SEC East road games, at Carolina and Mizzou, and the earliest 2018 Georgia challenges, with the toughest apparent spot on the schedule an October 13th road trip to LSU. The bayou is still Death Valley – where teams’ dreams can die. Even potentially dropping that game if it is a raucous nighttime road atmosphere where the momentum swings away, Georgia would have been almost assuredly favored in the previous six games and should be 6-1. Then, the Dawgs get a bye week before the Cocktail Party. A game Fromm will be starting, barring injury.
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