Last season, Georgia coach Kirby Smart saw a quarterback battle play itself out between sophomore Jacob Eason and true freshman Jake Fromm. As Smart prepares for another competition, he has a good understanding of how to decide who is No. 1.
Smart appeared on Birmingham radio station WJOX on Wednesday prior to the Regions Tradition Pro-Am and was asked about the Bulldogs’ quarterback situation for the fall. Fromm returns for his sophomore campaign after leading the team to the national title game, while five-star true freshman Justin Fields steps in to push Fromm for the job.
In Smart’s opinion, the way the coaching staff decides who plays quarterback is cut and dry.
“You compete. You let guys come out and compete,” Smart said. “I think sometimes you guys think we just make a decision and just go with it. We do what happens in practice. We have scrimmages. We’ve got 25 practices before our first game.”
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Smart was asked about last season’s battle, which was one born out of injury. Eason went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of the season opener against Appalachian State. The team was forced to turn to Fromm, who stepped up to the challenge and led the Bulldogs to 13 wins and their first SEC Championship since 2005.
Smart told WJOX he did not necessarily envision Fromm taking the starting quarterback role for the rest of the season when Eason went down. Smart said in the moment he was more worried about beating Appalachian State, a team which pushed Tennessee to overtime the previous season.
Smart recognized Fromm’s entrance into the game got the Georgia offense going, which certainly helped the freshman’s chances once Eason recovered.
“It gave us a little momentum in that game, and I thought, ‘Well, this young guy came in and did a good job.’ Jacob was going to get every opportunity to come back, and I thought he did,” Smart said. “I thought Fromm kept improving. That’s what kind of put us over the top in the end, the fact he got better game to game.”
Fromm started the next 13 games for the Bulldogs and ended the year with 2,615 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. Eason, meanwhile, opted to transfer to Washington after the season.
Fields enrolled early at Georgia this spring just as Fromm did the year before. The two battled it out in Georgia’s G-Day scrimmage, with Fields putting together the more impressive performance. The true freshman completed 18 passes on 33 attempts for 207 yards with one touchdown with one interception, while Fromm went 19-of-38 for 200 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
When the Bulldogs reconvene in the fall, the two will get their chance to duke it out once again.
“We’re excited about those opportunities to find out how much better Jake can get and how much better Justin can get,” Smart said. “Both of them do a good job managing our team. Both of them are great in the locker room. I’m excited to see where they go.”