Picture From UGA Football Live Twitter Account
September 9th, 2017 at 7:30 PM in South Bend, Indiana: Georgia @ Notre Dame, a game that has been circled on the calendars of Georgia fans since the home and home series was announced in June 2014, is finally upon us. For many Dawg fans, this game was viewed as a once in a lifetime trip to one of college football’s most iconic stadiums. From Touchdown Jesus, to the Golden Dome, and of course the Play Like A Champion Sign, Notre Dame has a certain prestige that few programs can match. Also, acknowledge the fact that these two programs have only met on the gridiron once before; a thrilling 17-10 victory for Georgia on January 1, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans where Georgia claimed the 1980 National Championship. A game where Scott Woerner intercepted two passes, Herschel Walker scored two rushing touchdowns, and one crucial fumbled kickoff return by Notre Dame on their own one-yard line. If Georgia wants to win this time around, it will most likely need a different recipe for success.
True Freshman Quarterback Jake Fromm has unexpectedly been handed the keys to the starting job this weekend in South Bend. As you all know, Jacob Eason sprained his LCL in the first quarter last week against App State, resulting in Fromm subbing in to throw for 143 yards and 1 touchdown. Though, this week will likely present Fromm’s toughest challenge in his entire athletic career. Any first start is difficult, but few have been of the likes of a primetime game in front of 77,000 fans on the road at night. Some Quarterbacks have had successful wins in their first start being on the road, Hutson Mason: UGA at Georgia Tech 2013, Matt Flynn: LSU at Mississippi State 2007, while others have struggled, Jordan Jefferson: LSU at Arkansas 2008, Brad Kaaya: Miami at Louisville 2014, Cole Stoudt: Clemson at Georgia 2014 to name a few. So, what does Fromm have to do join the first category rather than the latter? First, I think Fromm must manage the game from the standpoint of knowing the plays and calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. The crowd will be deafening, unlike anything he heard playing high school football in Warner Robins. Second, I think it’s important for Fromm to use up-tempo offense where he can get in rhythm throwing short patterns like the slant route from last week. Finally, Fromm must be disciplined with his eyes during his progressions. There cannot be any instances on locking in on his first target like last week, because triple coverage against Notre Dame results in an interception, not a touchdown like App State.
Obviously, there are other units from Georgia that must play well, in fact it is most likely necessary for them elevate their play to take the load of Fromm’s shoulders. It all starts up front with Georgia’s offensive line, because without them opening holes for Chubb and Michel, Georgia has no shot of winning. It is still unknown whether Right Guard Solomon Kindley will play, if not Georgia will rely on two upperclassman Kendall Baker or Dyshon Sims. Georgia should have the advantage in this area, as Notre Dame is breaking in new defensive lineman as well as their Coordinator Mike Elko from Wake Forest. Yes, their first game was against Temple, but all reports are the defense looked improved from last year’s D Coordinator Brian VanGorder (former UGA D Coordinator 2001-2004)
Finally, instead of doing keys to the game; I’m going to focus on something no sports analyst I’ve seen, has brought up this week regarding Fromm starting. Fromm is a similar quarterback to what Georgia has had for the last 15 years, under center utilizing play-action pass with occasional shotgun work. That contrasts what Eason did in high school in Washington as well as most of last year, having Chubb run from the shotgun mainly. Having watched Nick Chubb, the last 3 ½ seasons I can say very confidently he does a lot better from the I-formation with a fullback in front of him. I believe there is a reason, last year, Chubb’s best game was his 222 yards 2 touchdown performance in the opener at the Georgia Dome against North Carolina. Do you know who started that game? Greyson Lambert, a
Quarterback who lined up under center with Christian Payne right behind him most of the game. Yes, Eason threw the ball better in that game which helped prompt him into the starting role from there on out, but I firmly believe Chubb having to alter his style to running primarily out of the shotgun caused his per rush average to go from 8 yards to 5 after that game. So, with a Quarterback under center more frequently this upcoming Saturday, I would not be surprised to see an improved rushing attack from Chubb, topping at least 100 yards.
Yes, Georgia will be losing ground at the Quarterback spot in experience this Saturday, but I firmly believe this small change in formation could be the key ingredient to Georgia upsetting the Irish on Saturday night. Notre Dame right now is favored by 4 ½ points in Vegas, though the line has moved down from 6 ½ from Tuesday. With that being said, my head tells me Georgia will find a way to win, but my heart knows it’s very difficult to insert a true freshman Quarterback on the road for his first start and win. I see Notre Dame winning the game along the lines of 21-13. Obviously, I hope I am wrong, having invested time and money to fly north this weekend to see the Dawgs play at Notre Dame Stadium in person. No matter what, I am excited to see this historic campus and stadium under the lights. It will be a once in a lifetime trip, so I am going to soak it all in with all the other Georgia fans who are making the trip.
God Bless & Go Dawgs!