Fromm ap­pears set at quar­ter­back for No. 3 UGA’s opener

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Charles Odum

— The last re­main­ing strand of drama in the Ge­or­gia quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion may have dis­ap­peared when Jake Fromm was asked about pos­si­ble starters at tail­back.

Fromm, No. 3 Ge­or­gia’s re­turn­ing starter, had com­pli­men­tary com­ments about D’An­dre Swift, Eli­jah Holy­field and other run­ning backs on Mon­day be­fore adding “I’m re­ally ex­cited to see who will be stand­ing next to me when we go out for the first drive.”

First drive? starters.

That’s as close to a con­fir­ma­tion that has come from Fromm or coach Kirby Smart about quar­ter­back plans for the Bull­dogs’ opener against Austin Peay on Satur­day. Smart has no plan to name a starter be­fore the game. No an­nounce­ment may be nec­es­sary.

Fromm has re­mained the starter since tak­ing over for in­jured Ja­cob Ea­son in the 2017 opener.

“Jake’s been go­ing with ones the whole time,” Smart said Mon­day.

Smart wouldn’t say if ex­pects to play top fresh­man Justin Fields, who has pushed Fromm since spring prac­tice .

“I think the game will dic­tate how we get to play those guys,” Smart said, adding “Both of these kids have prac­ticed their tail off and both of them have done a good job in fall camp.”

Mon­day’s news con­fer­ence was Fromm’s first of the pre­sea­son, and he dis­cussed his two sum­mer ac­ci­dents. He said hav­ing a fish­ing hook stuck in his leg was only a mi­nor in­con­ve­nience. A big­ger is­sue came was a small frac­ture of his left ( non-throw­ing) hand when hit on a boat by a tow rope used for ski­ing.

Fields was ready for the start of pre­sea­son prac­tice, That’s for though he is wear­ing a small brace on the hand.

“Hon­estly, I didn’t want coach Smart to find out un­til I re­ally knew what was go­ing on and how bad it re­ally was,” he said. “I was try­ing to keep it kind of un­der the ta­ble, but it’s all good now and good to go.”

Fromm said he will soon have X-rays to de­ter­mine if he needs to keep wear­ing the brace.

There might be a closer watch on fu­ture sum­mer wa­ter­sports.

“I haven’t de­cided it’s too dan­ger­ous yet,” he said. “We’re go­ing to kind of play around with that and kind of see how much of it I can do and still stay safe. We’re go­ing to kind of test those wa­ters.”

Fromm may play a more im­por­tant role as a passer this sea­son after he en­joyed the lux­ury of hand­ing off to se­nior tail­backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb in 2017. He threw for 2,615 yards with 24 touch­downs and only seven in­ter­cep­tions and ranked ninth in the na­tion in pass­ing ef­fi­ciency.

Fromm led Ge­or­gia to the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship and a spot in the na­tional cham­pi­onship game , where it lost to Alabama. Team­mates say Fromm al­ready is show­ing more lead­er­ship as a sopho­more.

“He’s more out­spo­ken, more talk­a­tive to peo­ple, try­ing to get our minds right be­fore the play,” se­nior cen­ter La­mont Gail­lard. “When he does his job, then every­body is go­ing to be on the same page. Me and him, we just get on the same page and we know the of­fense is go­ing right with us.”

Smart said he had not made Fromm avail­able for in­ter­views be­fore Mon­day be­cause he didn’t want his quar­ter­backs forced to an­swer ques­tions about each other.

Smart said Fromm “com­mands a lot of re­spect” when asked to speak in front of the team.

“He’s one of our best lead­ers,” Smart said. “I think for Jake’s sake the most im­por­tant thing he could do for this camp and even spring prac­tice was be a bet­ter player and grow and get bet­ter. And he’s done that. He’s done ev­ery­thing we’ve asked him to do.”

In other re­cent col­lege foot­ball news:

Sa­ban not ready to make call on Bama’s start­ing quar­ter­back TUSCALOOSA, Ala.

— Alabama coach Nick Sa­ban isn’t ready to an­swer the start­ing quar­ter­back ques­tion, and frankly, he and his play­ers are tired of hear­ing it.

For the record, Sa­ban didn’t say Mon­day whether it will be Jalen Hurts or Tua Tago­v­ailoa start­ing for the de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pi­ons in the sea­son opener Satur­day night against Louisville in Or­lando, Florida.

His play­ers had no fresh in­sights on the topic ei­ther.

“I’ve an­swered this ques­tion 100 times, maybe 200 times,” tail­back Damien Har­ris said. “My an­swer hasn’t changed. The team feels the same way from the first time we ever got asked about it.

“I think at this point any other ques­tion about the quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion needs to be di­rected to­ward coach Sa­ban.”

As for Sa­ban, he praised how both Hurts and Tago­v­ailoa have per­formed in prac­tice and han­dled the month­s­long com­pe­ti­tion. He wouldn’t say if it was safe to as­sume the de­ci­sion wouldn’t be made pub­lic un­til Satur­day night.

“I don’t think you should as­sume any­thing,” Sa­ban said. “If I’m ready to tell you, I’ll tell you. If I’m not, I won’t. So you can as­sume that. Is that fair?”

He was asked if both would see ac­tion in the first game, some­thing he’s done in re­cent sea­sons with Hurts and Blake Bar­nett, and AJ McCar­ron and Philip Sims.

“Look, none of that’s been de­cided yet,” Sa­ban said. “I wish we could talk about some­thing else be­cause I don’t re­ally have any­thing else to say about it.”

It has been a hot topic among fans and me­dia since the wee hours of Jan. 9, after all.

Tago­v­ailoa and Hurts, a two-year starter, have been com­pet­ing ever since the hero­ics of the fresh­man from Hawaii in the na­tional cham­pi­onship game.

Alabama has won 26 of the 28 games Hurts has started. He com­plained early in fall camp about how coaches had han­dled his sit­u­a­tion, say­ing they never asked how he felt.

But Sa­ban later said that drew more at­ten­tion out­side the pro­gram and didn’t af­fect the team .

Tago­v­ailoa helped bail the Tide out of a 13-point hole in the ti­tle game against Ge­or­gia , heav­ing the game-win­ning touch­down pass to DeVonta Smith. Hurts passed for only 21 yards in the first half.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is left to pre­pare for both quar­ter­backs.

“Yeah, and one of them has only played a half and cranked the ball deep and re­ally did a great job of throw­ing the foot­ball,” Petrino said. “We’ve been hav­ing to pre­pare for both of them. They both can run, and they’re both big, 225pound guys that can run with big hips that are hard to tackle.

“The thing we have to do is get in the po­si­tion to make the tackle when they do run.”

There’s no es­cap­ing the ques­tion for Tide play­ers. Even when they leave the state.

“Even when I went back home in May, peo­ple back home in Iowa would ask that,” cen­ter Ross Pier­schbacher said. “I thought I es­caped Alabama for a lit­tle while. Fam­ily mem­bers ask, too. That seems to be the topic ev­ery­one wants to talk about ob­vi­ously. I don’t re­ally know what to say.

“I don’t have much on it, hon­estly.”

Join the crowd.

JOHN BAZE­MORE / The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ge­or­gia sopho­more quar­ter­back Jake Fromm (left) takes a snap dur­ing a drill at a re­cent prac­tice in front of fresh­man team­mate and fel­low quar­ter­back Justin Fields.

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