What would prompt Kirby Smart to call Jacob Eason's number in a game?
Somewhere between Jake Fromm getting rocked by the Auburn pass rush and Riley Ridley dropping a deep ball that should’ve been 6, it crossed Georgia fans’ minds.
Should Kirby Smart put Jacob Eason in?
It was a natural, heat-of-the-moment thought. For some, it was probably a tweet or an expletive-laced rant, too. It didn’t have to have any long-term ramifications. Having a desire to see Eason didn’t mean that Georgia was suddenly pulling a 180 after Fromm’s 10-0 start. For once, the offense didn’t run smoothly with Fromm.
It’s an odd predicament because few teams in America have a 5-star quarterback on the bench, much less one with a full year of experience under his belt. But neither of those factors was enough for Eason to save his starting job, nor should they have been.
That decision came down to a simple fact. The offense ran better with Fromm under center. Period. Find any production metric you want and Fromm had the upper hand on Eason’s freshman season. That can’t be debated.
What can be debated is what Smart should do if Fromm does indeed struggle again in a meaningful game.
Nobody is saying that Fromm was the lone reason that Georgia was crushed at Auburn. Few quarterbacks in America, if any, would’ve stood much of a chance at rallying the Dawgs against that Auburn defense on Saturday. Chances are, the guy on the bench probably wouldn’t have been that guy, either.
But there’s something to consider before dismissing any notion that Eason would be brought into a game facing a multi-score deficit.
Saturday was Fromm’s first time ever trailing in an SEC game. Ever. He hadn’t played a snap with a deficit since the Notre Dame game, and even that was a 1-possession game throughout the night. The Auburn game was totally foreign for Fromm, and it showed.
You know who it wouldn’t have been foreign for? Eason.
Last year, Eason overcame 6 second-half deficits as Georgia’s quarterback. Six. And it would’ve been 7 if it wasn’t for those meddling kids from Tennessee and their stupid dog.
Was Eason partially to blame for those deficits? Sure. But say what you want about him, Eason made plenty of big plays in winning time as a freshman.
If Georgia does indeed trail by a couple scores in the second half, it isn’t far-fetched to suggest that Smart at least thinks about pulling the trigger on Eason. It wouldn’t be saying that he believes Eason is the better long-term option. It would simply say that in that particular moment, Smart believed that Eason was the better right-now option.
Smart preaches focusing on the here and now as much as anyone. Making a move in the middle of a game in which Georgia trails late would be done so with that in mind. The other unintended benefit of a move like that would be that it gives Eason, who has just 7 pass attempts as Fromm’s understudy, some possible motivation to stick around in Athens.
Would Smart ever make a move at the most important position on the field in a big game just so a kid doesn’t transfer? Of course not.
But we’re talking about the pros and cons of doing something that would be considered a drastic move.
And I hear you, Georgia fans. I’m right there with you. I’ve been banging the drum for Fromm all year. I believe he’s the Dawgs’ quarterback of the present and the future. He’s more accurate with the quick intermediate throws and his decision-making has been better than Eason’s.
Eason is still worth bringing up because if he’s better prepared to handle a certain situation — a multi-possession deficit in the second half — then it’s at least worth considering. If Fromm is being swallowed whole by Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship, Smart could decide to call Eason’s number in that spot.
Of course it’s a risk. Nobody knows if Eason will be rusty or if he could even get back to his 2016 self (which was pretty mediocre). And what’s to say Fromm can’t be clutch? After all, he led the Dawgs on their go-ahead drive at Notre Dame.
Football is a situational game that comes down to matchups. If the circumstances dictate that Eason would be better suited for that given moment, Smart would be perfectly justified to make that call.
To quote the great Mike Tyson, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. On Saturday, Georgia got punched in the mouth.
If the Dawgs get punched in the mouth again, don’t be surprised if Smart adjusts his plan.