Upsetting the Apple Cart

July 19, 2018
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ATLANTA - Greg McElroy doesn’t think Kirby Smart should upset the apple cart. 

“When have we had an incumbent quarterback, who played as well as Fromm did, who goes into a season unsettled? I think it is uncharted,” McElroy told reporters on Thursday. 

“Unsettled” probably isn’t the ideal way to put it - Jake Fromm‍ is going to be the starter at UGA unless something rather bizarre happens. But he won’t take every snap from under center this fall - that seems pretty clear as well. He’s being challenged for playing time. He’s being pushed by someone who was the No. 1 prospect in the country. 

He's not alone in that regard in this program any more.

“I don’t see the second quarterback redshirting. That’s not in our plans,” Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. The assumption there, of course, is that the second quarterback is Justin Fields‍. Then again, if Fromm were the backup coming into the season, or if his position was that much in doubt, the athletic association wouldn’t be using his image to sell single game tickets. So safe to say Fields is the second quarterback. 

“I guess I would ask the question: ‘Why upset the apple cart?’” McElroy went on. “Everyone says this Fields kid is special, but being special in practice and being special on Saturdays are two different things. I know that Fields has a lot of upside, but what Georgia had last year - the stability they had - I think this offense could be better than last year.”

Couple of things: 

I can’t tell if McElroy is suggesting that UGA is having a full-blown competition at quarterback this fall. Because if that’s what’s being suggested that’s not what anyone at UGA is saying on the record or behind the scenes. 

It is a great question - why take Jake Fromm out and put someone else in when things go pretty smooth with Fromm?

Special on Saturdays is usually precluded by doing special things in the days, weeks and months running up to the string of Saturdays in the fall. And Terry Godwin pointed out Tuesday that Fields has “shown us why he was the No. 1 player in the nation.” In addition, you hear a ton about what Fields can do behind the scenes as well. 

McElroy tends to fall in love with quarterbacks. He advocated starting Grayson Lambert over Jacob Eason. 

McElroy told reporters he had not been to Athens so far this year (although not visiting Athens doesn’t preclude him from making this particular argument). 

The fact of the matter is that things are relatively settled at Georgia - Jake Fromm is going to start. He’s not as physically gifted as Justin Fields. And by all accounts, Justing Fields is special (I’ve seen him play live… he can give you things most other quarterbacks I’ve seen over the past couple of decades can’t). 

Everyone loves a quarterback controversy. It is an easy thing to talk about, and people who talk (or write) for a living (like me) like to have things to discuss. Its just that this doesn't feel very unsettled. This feels a little more like: How much of Fromm’s time is Fields going to take? Much like last fall, when Eason was the starter and Fromm was the backup, something is going to have to happen to displace the starter in order for the backup to have his real shot at things.

My take: A healthy Jake Fromm is going to have to perform so poorly, and Justin Fields play so well a few weeks in a row before any move would be made... it just seems very unlikely. 

Fields is special, and Fromm is the starter. Both things happen to be true at the same time. It is hard to see, in July, that Fields’ level of special will replace Fromm’s level of competence any time soon.

But in the meantime we still have something to talk about.

 
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