Jake Fromm is the starter again in 2019, so what does that mean for Justin Fields?
One throw after another was spot on. That’s how Jake Fromm’s day was going on Saturday when Georgia was pushing around the best team in the land. Georgia’s sophomore quarterback was nearly perfect, and it looked like No. 1 Alabama was going down.
The fact that the Jalen Hurts story — and you wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t seen it — took over and Alabama came back to win sort of pushed the Jake Fromm story to the background.
And that, my friends, is a shame.
Jake Fromm looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the country Saturday, and there was no doubt he was absolutely outplaying Alabama starter Tua Tagovailoa, the presumptive Heisman Trophy winner.
Fromm threw for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns against Alabama. There were several “wow” moments. He threw a swing pass to D’Andre Swift with perfect touch over a linebacker. He zipped a pass across the middle, barely between the fingers of two defenders. He took his shots, and hit most of them. He found second and third options all day long. He was that good.
What we learned Saturday is what we knew most of the year, that Jake Fromm is a great quarterback, certainly one of the best 5 or 10 or so in the country. He gives Georgia the best chance to win every Saturday, even with talented 5-star freshman Justin Fields on the roster.
And it begs the most obvious of questions. If Fromm is the starter again in 2019, what happens to Justin Fields?
Is he prepared to come back to Georgia even if nothing changes?
“Yes, sir. I love this team. That’s the plan.” Fields said after Saturday’s game, the first time he was allowed to speak to the media as part of the team rules with freshmen and the media.
“I’m a competitor,” Fields said. “Everyone wishes they had more playing time, but it is what is. Coach Smart is my coach and I trust him and I think he knows what’s best. So, I’m just going to keep getting better and trusting his plan for me.”
Fields’ goal is to get better every day, and take advantage when his time comes.
“Just continue to get more familiar with the playbook, keep watching film,” he said. “Just keep improving, body-wise, speed, everything, accuracy. Just getting better overall as a quarterback.”
But what happens if that time doesn’t come anytime soon? Fromm was so good this year that he certainly seems entrenched in the role. It’s just not a position where two guys can play equal amounts. It just doesn’t work at quarterback, and it usually splinters a team.
How the 2018 season played out was a perfect example. In the easy part of the season in September, Fields got plenty of reps in blowouts. But in the meat of the schedule when Georgia was trying to win the SEC East, it was Fromm’s ballgame just about every series. Fields’ role had shriveled to next to nothing beyond the occasional running play.
Georgia was more than capable of winning a national championship this year with Fromm as its quarterback. He proved that all season and put an exclamation point on it Saturday against Alabama. He was playing so well that Georgia had a 28-14 lead and should have been able to close out the game. The fact that they didn’t wasn’t on Fromm.
Next year, the goal is exactly the same. Georgia will be even better in 2019 and will contend for a national championship again. Fromm will be the starting quarterback, and if he stays healthy all year — which is never a given — he will get the vast majority of the snaps that matter.
I just can’t see a scenario where Smart benches Fromm for Fields on a permanent basis. It is absolutely a luxury to have two great quarterbacks — as every Alabama fan would attest on Saturday — but it also creates a lot of headaches.
We were curious how this whole Fromm/Fields issue would play out this year. The same, of course, is going to apply again in 2019.