Why Jake Fromm is Georgia's starting QB, even when Jacob Eason is healthy

Georgia has vaulted up to No. 7 in the AP Top 25, and the play of true freshman starting quarterback Jake Fromm has been a big reason why, even though it wasn't supposed to be this way.

Former 5-star stud Jacob Eason injured his knee in the first quarter of the season-opener, and is still working his way back into game shape.

"It's day-to-day," coach Kirby Smart said after Tuesday's practice. "He did do much better today, I thought. I got to see him in the 7-on-7 periods and I got to see him in some of the early periods in practice. He looks much better than he did last week. He's moved around and escaped some. Even yesterday, he took reps and a couple of times a D lineman broke through and he was able to get away, moving comfortable. So he's much closer to being able to play."

Other reports confirmed that Eason is making quick progress, based on the limited window in which media is allowed to view practice.

Fromm should remain the starter, though, with Eason serving as the backup when both are at full strength.

This clearly wasn't Plan A for Georgia. In a perfect world, Eason would never have been injured, Fromm could conceivably have redshirted and Smart would have had separation between his two star gunslingers. But Plan B is working.

Fromm completed 9-of-12 passes for 201 yards against Mississippi State -- an average of 16.8 yards per attempt. For the season, he's averaging 9.4 yards per attempt, which includes his first start -- on the road at Notre Dame -- when offensive coordinator Jim Chaney clearly played it conservative (4.9 yards per attempt). 

To put it more succinctly, the offense is developing under Fromm and Chaney. It's expanding and stretching the field deep consistently. 

That's a stark contrast to what Eason did during his first full season as a starter. SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy pointed out at SEC Media Days that Eason connected on just eight of his 49 passes that traveled 25 yards or more (16 percent). For comparison, Alabama's Jalen Hurts -- who was criticized all offseason for his inability to hit deep balls -- connected twice as often in similar situations (32 percent), according to McElroy.

Smart doesn't see anything changing with his quarterback plans in the immediate future, and did his best to calm what might become a slowly developing storm over the next few weeks.

"The focus for Jacob Eason is to get healthy and be part of this game plan and learn what to do," he said. "The focus for Fromm is to focus on improving and getting better. The point for both of them is to have team vision, to have the goal to make the team better. Both are working on that. It's not just about them individually."

To translate the coachspeak, Fromm is Smart's guy and will stay that way unless the progress that has already been displayed somehow regresses to a point where Eason is needed.

It's unlikely that's going to happen, though. 

Fromm has shown the leadership ability that Georgia needs in addition to his ability to stretch the field deep, which is more than enough for a Georgia team that already has proven the ability to run the ball effectively and play sound defense. 

Simply put, he's the final piece of the puzzle.

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, analyst for CBS Sports HQ and host for the SiriusXM college... Full Bio

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