Which Games Will Fields Play In?

July 10, 2018
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ATHENS - You have to wonder if anything is being left to chance in the run up to Georgia’s 2018 season. 

Kirby Smart (and his band of detail-oriented coaches) don't leave much to chance - maybe the coin toss at the start of the game. All you have to do is witness the first game of the season last year - Jacob Eason gets hurt - 5-star Jake Fromm comes in. 

Last season Kirby let us know that his program “had a plan” for Jake Fromm‍ heading into the first game of the year. They had to balance the redshirting rules of the moment. They knew what they were going to do with Fromm the way they knew how to rescue burning a year of eligibility for Solomon Kindley for him playing something like a snap against Missouri in 2016. 

This offseason the NCAA passed a new redshirt rule that allows “student-athletes” to play in four games without burning a year of eligibility. 

 

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From the NCAA:

“College athletes competing in Division I football can participate in up to four games in a season without using a season of competition.”

First-year college signal caller unite in joy. They get to play. College coaches now get to scheme. 

What must this mean for Justin Fields‍? That’s the real question. We know, now, that Fields will play four games in 2018. And if I know Kirby Smart’s style at all he’s already figured out which games make the most sense for him to play in. 

Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State and UMass? Check. 

But what would the fourth game be? Or does the fourth game not matter because Fields won’t redshirt? Perhaps you play him in the first three games of the season, and then hold off to see if you need to use him later in the year?

The possibilities aren’t endless, but they aren’t limiting like in the past. 

Consider someone like James Cook‍ or  John FitzPatrick. They would both benefit from having the ability to play in four games rather than coaches making a final decision about their fall after two weeks of practice.

Now players like Cook, FitzPatrick and perhaps even Fields have the ability to show what they can do in two conference and two non-conference games. The new NCAA bylaws create an NFL pre-season feel to the season - you get to prove your worth on the field... not just in practice.

I can speak from personal experience: I have redshirted before. It is tremendously boring. That’s a lot of 5:45 AM running for exactly zero playing time. The good news now is that the bylaws have changed, and everyone will get a chance to play in a quarter of UGA’s regular season games. 

Good. And you can bet Kirby and company have a plan for it. 

 

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