The question of who would be Georgia’s starting quarterback hung in the air throughout the week leading up to Georgia’s season opener against Austin Peay on Sept. 1. Sophomore Jake Fromm was announced as Georgia’s starting quarterback on Saturday, but the starting role did not seem to matter in the Bulldogs’ 45-0 win over the Governors.
Fromm, freshman Justin Fields and walk-on freshman Matthew Downing all saw time on the field at quarterback. Fromm stayed in at quarterback for the entirety of the first quarter, but Fields made his collegiate debut during Georgia’s first drive of the second quarter. Downing saw time at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.
“I thought the both of us put the team in good situations,” Fromm said. “I thought it went well and both guys could put the offensive in a position to succeed.”
Head coach Kirby Smart said they learned from the 2017 season, when former quarterback Jacob Eason went down with an injury in Georgia’s home opener, that the quarterback situation could change at any moment due to an injury. The plan to play both Fromm and Fields helps the offense be prepared if an injury were ever to occur. Smart said the plan is similar to last year, in that when they had a lead where they felt comfortable, they would substitute in Fields.
Smart said he saw some nerves from Fields early in the game, but as the game continued he started to settle into the position.
“[Fields] had a couple of plays where things broke down a little bit he created, maybe he missed his first read and he took off,” Smart said. “I encouraged him to not take a hit, in his first play he like ran over two guys. So I told him that’s not what we were looking for, he took better care of himself the rest of the time, and that’s the conversation we have with both the quarterbacks.”
Fromm and Fields traded out at the position during the second quarter, and Fields filled the role for the third quarter. Fromm said he had an idea Fields would see time at quarterback, but was not sure exactly at what point in the game he would take over.
Fromm finished 12-for-16 with 157 yards and and connected with junior receivers Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman for two touchdowns. Fields finished 7-for-8 with 63 yards and one touchdown.
With both quarterbacks seeing the field, the offense recognizes the skills each possesses and knows how to work with both of them. Junior tailback Elijah Holyfield sees his role with Fromm and Fields differ in little ways, forcing him to adjust to whoever is on the field.
“Jake [Fromm] is usually telling me to do stuff,” Holyfield said. “With Justin it’s more of a mutual conversation, he’s asking me, I’m telling him stuff. I’m trying to help him out more, still trying to calm him down. I love playing with both of them.”
Fromm said his experience from his freshman season helped him know how to approach not only the opening game for the 2018 season, but the season as a whole.
“I definitely know what I am getting myself in to,” Fromm said. “I feel a lot more comfortable with the offense, and I kind of know how to prepare. I know the system that I use in order to prepare for a game and so that helped me tremendously, it was exciting getting out there.”
That level of familiarity is a skill he is trying to help Fields gain. Fromm said the communication aspect between him and Fields is a key component to each of their games. It's also a competent that will develop throughout the season.
“You’ve got to talk about what you’re seeing and make sure we’re seeing the same thing,” Fromm said. “Getting the offensive line on the same page and getting the guys outside on the same page, really communication is key. Just gotta get everybody on the same page.”
When the team faces South Carolina on Sept. 8, the question of who will start at quarterback may be settled. But that doesn't leave Fields out of the mix of the 2018 season for good.