When it comes to rain, Jake Fromm is more comfortable handling something other than a football. A gun, for instance.
“We’d probably be hog hunting, that’s what we’d be doing, or duck hunting,” Fromm said. “I’ve done it many times,” talking about his preferred rainy day activity.
Through those experiences, safely handling a shotgun or rifle in rainy conditions is easy to Fromm. But when rain came through Athens Saturday night, Fromm was tasked with protecting and distributing a football, something he wasn’t nearly as comfortable with.
And he was open about it. With the media, Fromm mentioned several times the difficulty he had getting a grip on the ball. He even mentioned it to the coaching staff during the game as the rain persisted.
“There would be sometimes where it’d be, ‘Hey coach, the ball is feeling super slick right now,’ ” Fromm said about his conversations with coaches.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart understood how difficult it would be to throw the ball himself in a game like this. “Handing it to a guy is a helluva a lot easier in those conditions,” Smart said.
So Smart and offensive coordinator James Coley went with that. They only had Fromm throw the ball 12 times. He completed nine of those for a mere 35 yards. On the ground, however, Georgia carried the ball 43 times for 235 yards and all three of the Bulldog’s touchdowns in the 21-0 win over Kentucky.
It was old-school football, the kind of game you see kids play at the local park after a big rainstorm. And that’s how Smart and company sold it.
“We told them: ‘Guys, this goes back to when you were a little kid,’ ” Smart said. “And you go out there, and you either embrace it or the conditions affect you.”
The Bulldogs bought into that. There wasn’t any way to circumvent the rain. They had to take what they were given.
“You know going into it that it’s going to be a ground-and-pound game,” Fromm said. “And you have to accept it.”
Although at one point it seemed like Georgia was letting the rain hinder them, especially on offense. The Bulldogs first seven possessions ended like this: punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt. It was ugly, and at no point did it look like it was trending upward for the Georgia offense.
» ANALYSIS: Bulldogs turn attention to Gators
Until Kentucky’s punter shanked one to give Georgia the ball on the Wildcats’ 39-yard line. That quickly put the Bulldogs in striking distance and completely changed the tide of the game.
“That was the biggest momentum change,” Smart said on the botched punt. “It got our crowd into it… That gave our offense an extra added momentum and incentives.”
And from there, Georgia was dominant. On the next play, D’Andre Swift took a run to the house to open up the scoring. On their next two offensive drives, Georgia posted two more touchdowns to turn the slugfest into a blowout.
They weren’t pretty drives either, but the tough-nosed, backyard football that Smart had been preaching paid off.
“That was one of them parks and rec games,” Smart said. “Saturday, down there in the mud, and you go out there and just play for the love of the game.”
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