Jake Fromm can do something Saturday that he's never done before
It was probably a good sign that Jake Fromm’s first career start was a win at No. 24 Notre Dame last year.
The true freshman wasn’t necessarily the driving force behind the Dawgs’ key Week 2 victory in South Bend, but he made the plays down the stretch that Georgia needed to close it out. In Week 2 of Fromm’s sophomore season, he went into No. 24 South Carolina and fueled a comfortable victory that quieted a once-raucous crowd.
When Georgia travels to No. 13 LSU on Saturday, Fromm will try to one-up what he did in both of those road wins. He might have an SEC Championship, a Rose Bowl and a national title berth under his belt, but there’s something that’s eluded the young quarterback early in his accomplished career.
That is, beat a top-15 team on the road.
Fromm has indeed won games in hostile atmospheres, and his postseason résumé is impressive, though those games were at neutral sites.
There will be nothing neutral about Baton Rouge on Saturday. Even well-traveled Georgia fans will be drowned by a sea of purple and gold at Tiger Stadium. Fromm will see an elite defense that’s angry coming off a heartbreaking loss at Florida.
And we’ll see just how elite Fromm is.
That’s not my way of saying this is a “make-or-break game” for Fromm’s status as one of the nation’s best quarterbacks. I think what we’ve already seen from him in 2018 with Justin Fields waiting in the wings showed why Fromm is elite. The efficiency numbers are crazy good (10.5 yards per attempt with 72 percent accuracy and a 12-2 TD-INT ratio) for a Georgia offense that scored at least 38 points in every game this season.
Fromm is coming off his best game of the year against Vanderbilt, wherein he made NFL throws all night long:
Terry. Godwin. 😳 pic.twitter.com/v0VVrrtYgP
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 7, 2018
That pass was a nice little message to those who accuse Fromm of being a game manager. He’s far more than that.
The deep passing game is certainly improving, and it’s actually provided more of a home-run threat than the ground game this year. Fromm already has at least one completion of 40 yards in 5 games this season. That’s as many as he totaled all of last year.
Where Fromm has really been precise is 10-19 yards downfield. Before Saturday’s effort against Vanderbilt, he was 14-for-18 for 307 yards and 5 touchdown passes on throws that traveled at least 10-19 yards (via @CFBFilmRoom). Those are the plays that Fromm is going to have to hit on at LSU when it’s 3rd-and-long and the Tiger Stadium crowd is deafening. That’s what this game could come down to.
With the exception of last year’s national championship — the only time in Fromm’s career that he threw multiple interceptions — this will be the best secondary that he’s faced. LSU is loaded on the back end with playmakers like Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams, both of whom are plenty capable of making Fromm flash back to the 2017 game at Auburn if he isn’t at his best.
That was the only time that Fromm faced a top-15 opponent on the road, and yeah, it didn’t go well. Fromm was sacked 4 times in an ugly 40-17 loss on The Plains. It probably didn’t help matters that Georgia was outgained 237-46 on the ground and after falling behind early, Fromm basically spent the entire second half throwing.
The Dawgs will need that ground game to get rolling earlier than it did the past couple weeks, but it seems like Fromm is in a different place than he was 11 months ago at Auburn. He seems more confident and more polished than ever. His command of the offense, especially in the second half, has been impressive.
Fromm said after Saturday’s win against Vanderbilt that offensively, Georgia is “starting to hit that stride.” This is a good time to do that with 4 matchups against top-25 teams in a row, the first 3 being away from Athens. If Fromm can lead Georgia through this stretch without a loss, the Heisman Trophy and national title buzz will be flowing.
He can get off on the right foot this Saturday by adding another achievement to his ever-growing résumé.