ATHENS, Ga. – Jake Fromm is Georgia’s starting quarterback.
That’s not up for debate.
Not yet, anyway.
The real question at the moment: How much playing time, if any, does that leave for touted freshman Justin Fields?
It looks like that will be a week-to-week discussion.
Fields played well in the season-opening victory over Austin Peay, completing all but one of eight passes for 63 yards including a 12-yard touchdown to Isaac Nauta. The youngster also showed his running ability with 33 yards on three carries, none of them on designed plays.
“I thought he did a good job Saturday in the game, handled things well,” coach Kirby Smart said. “But I don’t know what this game is going to dictate, what this game is going to bring. So we’ll see.”
The level of competition certainly increases this week. The No. 3 Bulldogs hit the road to face South Carolina in their Southeastern Conference opener, going into an especially hostile environment where Georgia has lost three of its last four appearances.
Fromm, a sophomore, certainly has more experience in these situations, having led Georgia to a victory at Notre Dame in his first game as the starter last season. He went on to guide the Bulldogs to a Southeastern Conference championship, a Rose Bowl victory and a spot in the national championship game, where they lost to Alabama in overtime.
“It’s just a situation where there’s no plan,” Smart said. “We’ve got to go with how things go and how the flow of the game goes.”
Fromm played the first three offensive series against Austin Peay, and then Fields came in for the next two. They pretty much traded possessions after that until both came out of the game late in the third quarter with Georgia on the way to a 45-0 victory over an outgunned FCS opponent.
Fromm certainly did nothing to warrant losing his No. 1 job, going 12 of 16 through the air for 157 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’ve got all the respect in the world for him,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “He’s very accurate with the football. He’s a competitor. He obviously handles the moment extremely well. He’s got the respect of his teammates. So as far as that position is concerned, I don’t know what else you’re looking for.”
But Fields was one of the nation’s top-ranked recruits coming out of high school , and his ability to create plays with both his arm and his legs led to plenty of speculation that he could soon surpass Fromm as Georgia’s top quarterback – much as Fromm came in last year to push out Jacob Eason, the 2016 starter who wound up transferring to Washington.
“I don’t know that Jake totally gets the credit he deserves,” Muschamp said. “I watched a guy in the College Football Playoff against Oklahoma make some big-time throws in that game. … Against Alabama in the championship game, he put them in position to win the game. He’s very accurate what he did with the football and it speaks for itself what he did as a true freshman.”
The rest of the Georgia team seems detached from the quarterback debate.
“We really don’t pay too much attention,” offensive lineman Andrew Thomas said. “Whichever quarterback is in there, it’s the same. We run the same plays, protect the same, block the same.”
Smart said there’s no quarterback controversy in the locker room.
“They’re both great kids. They’re both UGA fans. They both pull for us,” the coach said. “They compete hard against each other, but they’re pulling the team in the right direction. That’s one thing I’ll say about both those kids. They just want to make our team better, and they’ve done that by how they’ve competed.”
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.