It’s no secret that Georgia’s football program is committed to winning a national championship. This was made clear when Kirby Smart was hired as head coach, hoping his first-hand experience at Alabama could be emulated in Athens.
The Dawgs almost reached that mountaintop, only to be pushed off by Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, losing 26-23 in overtime of the national championship game this past January.
As for the 2018 season, the “king of the hill” in the SEC, and perhaps a participant in the four-team playoff, could be determined by which team better handles their respective burgeoning quarterback controversies.
Smart was saved of such drama last season after starter Jacob Eason injured his knee in the third series of the first game, paving the way for true freshman Jake Fromm. All the Warner Robbins native accomplished was leading UGA to its first SEC championship in 12 seasons and first national championship game appearance in 37 years on the way to a 13-2 record.
The true freshman completed over 62-percent of his passes for 2,615 yards while passing for 24 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. This season, Smart and his offensive staff may not be so lucky as true freshman Justin Fields appears to be heavily breathing down Fromm’s neck, just as Fromm was last season to Eason.
It’s being said that Fields is a football savant, already being able to process information pre and post-snap that helps his decision-making process on the field. In other words, Fields is just as intelligent as he is athletic. The key for Fromm will be can he take that next step in the passing game as his leadership abilities are unquestioned.
Meanwhile in Tuscaloosa, the reigning king of the hill have its own QB controversy between Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa. With a starting record of 26-2 over the past two seasons, one would think Hurts wouldn’t have to look over his shoulder. Tagovailoa took over for Hurts to start the second half of last year’s national championship game and lead the Tide from a 13-0 halftime deficit, completing 14-of-24 passes for 166 yards with three TD’s, the most important a 42-yard bomb to wide receiver DeVonta Smith in overtime for the final margin.
With Smart bringing the Alabama blueprint to Georgia in terms of relentless recruiting, playing with toughness, and promoting competition at every position, the third-year head coach should also look at how Saban handled his quarterbacks last season.
There was never a doubt Hurts was going to be the starter and he led his squad to the playoff, completing 60-percent of his passes (154-for-254) for 2,081 yards with 17 TD’s to just one interception. In fact, for his career, Hurts is second in program history in touchdowns-responsible-for with 61 and third in total yards with 6,670. And that’s just in two seasons.
He’ll top the Bama charts this season assuming he’s still with the program. His father recently admitting he may transfer if he’s not named the starter going into the 2018 season.
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