A typical coming-of-age movie usually follows a similar plot.
It starts with main character facing a conflict. The rising action is then based on how he/she deals with that adversity to solve that problem. The climax is the turning point, or when it all comes into place for the main character. The falling action is where the conflict decreases and it concludes with a resolution.
It feels like we’ve been watching Jake Fromm’s coming-of-age movie the past 3 months. His conflict was being thrust into the starting role in the first college game of his life after Jacob Eason went down in the season opener. The rising action was Fromm being a complementary piece — and facing weekly skepticism — for his role in leading Georgia to a runaway SEC East title.
Then, of course, the Auburn game happened. The climax of Fromm’s freshman season was watching him prove his doubters right … only to turn around a 23-point loss into the best game of his young career. Fromm’s SEC Championship performance was the high point of his coming-of-age season. He bounced back from adversity, and delivered Georgia fans the conference title and Playoff berth they’ve been desperate for.
Fromm’s effort in Atlanta helped Georgia earn a Rose Bowl showdown with Oklahoma and likely Heisman Trophy-winner Baker Mayfield. Nobody will predict or expect Fromm to outplay his counterpart. We don’t know what’s in store for the falling action or the resolution of his freshman season.
Win or lose, though, Fromm showed that he’s ready to play the role of “elite SEC quarterback.”
Even after the SEC Championship, Fromm’s doubters still have the same knock on him. That is, he and the Dawgs don’t have a good enough passing game to rally back from a multi-score deficit. If the running game isn’t rolling, neither is Georgia’s offense.
In the SEC Championship, we didn’t see Fromm put in a spot like that. The Georgia defense sparked the turnaround in the second quarter and was lights out from there. The Dawgs still ran the ball 41 times for 238 yards (5.8 yards per carry), which was a far cry from the 46 rushing yards they were held to in the first Auburn meeting.
But instead of getting stuck on that and assuming Fromm was just along for the ride, dig a little deeper into those numbers. After Davin Bellamy forced the Jarrett Stidham fumble and Georgia needed to capitalize with a touchdown drive, who did offensive coordinator Jim Chaney turn to?
Fromm. He was 4-for-4 for 51 yards with a beautifully-designed touchdown pass to Isaac Nauta.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 2, 2017
Fromm made that play look a lot easier than it probably was. He also makes those 10-15 yard outs to the sideline look much easier than they are. Those aren’t the throws of a “game manager.” A quarterback with a lesser arm underthrows that and it’s 6 the other way.
His ability to avoid that catastrophic mistake probably hasn’t been talked about enough. When the Dawgs were in that early hole and struggling to get anything going offensively, Fromm completed 15 of his next 18 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown without turning the ball over. Dating to that horrendous throw he made against Florida in the final weekend of October, Fromm has just 1 interception in his past 104 pass attempts. During that stretch, he completed 65 percent of his passes and he averaged 9.2 yards per attempt.
Keep in mind that was with not one, but two games against Auburn. Fromm actually became the first quarterback all year to complete at least 70 percent of his passes against that vaunted Tigers defense. His 8.3 yards per attempt came against a unit that ranks 6th in FBS in that category.
Against an elite SEC defense, Fromm was indeed elite. Among all SEC quarterbacks, Fromm has some pretty elite numbers. Look at where he ranks among qualified SEC quarterbacks in all of these categories:
- 63 percent passing (4th)
- 21-5 TD-INT ratio (4th)
- 21 TD passes (3rd)
- 9.4 yards per attempt (3rd)
- 46 attempts/INT (3rd)
- 168.2 QB rating (2nd)
Fromm is the only SEC quarterback to rank in the top 4 in all six of those categories. Not bad for a true freshman. By the way, Fromm was the only true freshman in the SEC who earned and kept the title “QB1” this season.
That’s perhaps the most promising thing for Georgia fans. Not only do they have a special quarterback, but they have one who will be around for at least another 2 years. For all the talk about Jacob Eason’s future, 2 or even 3 more years of Fromm is as encouraging as any post-2017 thing Georgia has working has in its favor. That includes Kirby Smart. In case you forgot, Smart wasn’t the guy who could troubleshoot when his 5-star quarterback couldn’t move the offense during last year’s 7-5 regular season.
Fromm looks like he could have one of those A.J. McCarron-like careers. That’s not to say he’ll be on three national title teams, but I have a feeling that he’ll never get the due he deserves. People will argue that a guy who doesn’t throw the ball 30 times a game isn’t special while they ignore the fact that he’s extremely efficient, he rarely makes mistakes and he makes a bunch of big-time throws for one of the nation’s top teams.
Who knows? Maybe he’ll become a guy who averages 25-30 passes per game. For all we know, Fromm becomes Aaron Murray 2.0.
But Murray never went into bowl season with a chance to lead his team to a national championship. In a few short weeks, Fromm will stand on the opposite sideline from Mayfield, who will have done everything in his college career but win a national title. It’ll be a great opportunity to see how Fromm responds to battling the top quarterback in America.
Fromm is trying to follow in the footsteps of Jalen Hurts, who was one defensive stop away from leading his team to a national championship as a true freshman. If Fromm can pull off that feat, he’ll be ready for his next starring role.
“SEC’s best quarterback.”