Kirby Smart didn’t want to go there.
Although sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason was healthy enough to play, freshman Jake Fromm was called upon for his fifth consecutive start. No effort was made to get Eason any first-team rep during Saturday’s 45-14 blowout over Vanderbilt. Eason didn’t enter the game until it was decided in the fourth quarter.
Therefore, Smart was asked if he was ready to name a “permanent starter” at the position.
“Naming guys as permanent starters, I don’t think we normally do that,” Smart said. “(Cornerback) Malkom Parrish is going to go out and compete with Tyrique McGhee. (Inside linebacker) Juwan Taylor is going to go out and compete with Monty Rice. You guys want to make a great story out of (the quarterbacks). You know what the story ought to be? Georgia O-line finished Vanderbilt off. They ran the ball well. Can we talk about that? That’s really positive.”
It’s true, Georgia’s offensive line dominated Vanderbilt up front in the run game to the tune of 423 rushing yards. Time and again, the Commodores were pushed back with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and later Elijah Holyfield, gashing them through wide-open holes.
But like any team, the quarterback is going to garner a ton of attention as a de facto leader. And considering the fact Eason started 12 games a freshman and was Georgia’s top quarterback before a sprained knee against Appalachian State sidelined him, who Smart tabs as the starter each week will be a news item.
Then again, nothing has signaled that Fromm won’t be Georgia’s starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Fromm had an efficient outing against Vanderbilt, completing 7 of 11 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns. With pinpoint accuracy, Fromm delivered a 47-yard bomb to receiver Terry Godwin in the third quarter to put Georgia up 28-7.
“I think he's growing as a player and functioning in the offense really well,” Smart said. “He likes the uptempo stuff. I thought the touchdown pass was really good. It came at a great time. It was a great call by (offensive coordinator) Jim (Chaney) because he had them off-balance.
“I think Jake continues to get better and that's important for our team. I do feel like we have two QBs that can play winning football.”
Georgia’s offense, even without having to throw the ball that much, continues to improve with Fromm at quarterback. The Bulldogs totaled 549 yards of total offense against the Commodores. That’s not to say Eason couldn’t hand the ball off and let the offensive line and running backs do their damage. But when a team is rolling the way Georgia is, it is understandable why a coach wouldn’t want to make a change.
Until further notice, Fromm is Georgia’s starting quarterback, whether Smart reveals that information or not.
“I know y’all need a story. You need a story, need controversy,” Smart said. “That’s not really where this team is going. The men in this locker room, the seniors on that team, they’re controlling that message. Both of those quarterbacks are good players.”