When Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was asked Monday whether incumbent quarterback Jake Fromm or newcomer Justin Fields would get the start when the Bulldogs take on Austin Peay in the opener Saturday, Smart was coy with his response.
“There’s no plan, this is what’s going to happen, this is when he’s going to play,” Smart said. “We’re not into that. We’re going to kind of see how the game goes.”
Subsequently, Georgia fans everywhere lost their minds. Allow me to take a page out of the Aaron Rodgers book of media relations and tell everyone to R-E-L-A-X.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Fromm is going to be the starter in Week 1. In practically the same breath that Smart skirted around naming who he would send out first on Sept. 1, he added that “Jake’s been going with the ones the whole time.”
Now I’m no coach, but if I was in charge of a football team, I would probably want the guy I plan on starting at the most important position in all of sports to get a few reps with the other first team players before the start of the season. After leading the team to a 12-2 record as a first-year starter, winning both the SEC Championship and the Rose Bowl and nearly delivering the Bulldogs their first national championship since the 1980 season, Fromm was never going to get benched for an unproven freshman, no matter how many stars 247Sports puts next to his name.
But even if Smart had gone as far as officially naming Fromm the starter for Saturday’s game, what would the significance be? You don’t have to go very far back in Georgia’s football history to see that there isn’t much meaning behind being the first Bulldog quarterback to take the field in a season.
In 2016, Grayson Lambert got the starting nod over then recently anointed savior of Georgia football Jacob Eason. By midway through the first game, Eason had taken over the job.
Last year, Eason played just a few drives before injuring his knee, opening the door for Fromm to take over. Fromm never lost his hold on the starting position.
So why are we so hung up on who Smart will choose to trot out in a largely meaningless early September game against Austin Peay?
Football is among the most volatile sports out there, and the college level is its least predictable league.
But if there’s one thing you can count on year in and year out, it’s that the last snap of the season is a lot more telling than the first.
Being the guy behind center for the final play of the year means more than being the opening day starter.
So speculate away at your tailgate, watch the game Saturday and dream about how Georgia’s 42-0 win over Austin Peay means they will go undefeated and take home the championship this year.
Just don’t worry too much about how the quarterbacks are used. It’s just the first week, and in the wild world of college football, things are bound to change.
Nathan Berg is a sports writer for The Times. He can be reached at email@example.com