Kirby Smart was concerned about Jake Fromm before the Florida game.
The two games leading up to the Nov. 2 matchup weren’t kind to Georgia’s junior quarterback. Fromm had thrown a career-high 51 attempts with a 54.9% completion percentage and three interceptions in the Bulldogs’ 20-17 loss to South Carolina on Oct. 12. The following week’s 21-0 win over Kentucky limited Fromm to only 12 attempts.
Questions swirled around the third-year starter’s capabilities. Is Fromm a championship-caliber quarterback? Could he lead the offense out of its slump?
So Smart took Fromm out to lunch. Smart’s intentions weren’t lofty — he just wanted to check in with him.
“He doesn’t get frustrated,” Smart said. “He handles things really well, but he and I are wired very similar ways. We’re very competitive. We both want to win. There’s a lot of [the] same hard wiring there.”
The two met a couple of times before the Florida game. One time they met, Smart said, he figured Fromm was on his way to go hunting. Smart didn’t delve into what the two discussed specifically, but something must have clicked.
Fromm added on to his 3-0 record against the Gators with a solid outing in Jacksonville, Florida. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 279 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He led a Georgia offense that went 12-of-18 on third down against the Gators’ fifth-best total defense in the SEC and scored 24 points against the third-best scoring defense in the conference.
Fromm’s performance against Florida provided a much-needed spark for an offense that had struggled to average over 5 yards per play in its last two outings against SEC East opponents.
“I’m ready to do whatever it takes to win a football game,” Fromm said. “I think that’s what makes this offense special.”
Smart sees the pressure Fromm is put through and resents all of the quarterback’s critics. He hoped their lunch talks would help build communication between the coach and the quarterback.
“[You all have] seen it over and over again where people doubt and continue to doubt, and he continues to rise above,” Smart said. “He is not a silver spoon-fed kid. He’s a working kid. He ... wills himself into it.”
Smart said meeting one-on-one with Fromm was good for the both of them. And Georgia’s win against Florida, which put the Bulldogs back in control of their own destiny in the SEC, likely didn’t hurt, either.
“For us, [the win over Florida] is a momentum builder,” Fromm said. “To have the Kentucky game [go] the way it did with the weather, it never really gave us an opportunity to really respond to the South Carolina game. For us to come out and respond the way we did, [for] guys to listen to the right voices and gel together at the right time, I couldn’t ask [for] anything more from this team.”