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Kirby Smart considered expanding Justin Fields’ role vs. LSU

The rest of the world may think otherwise, but there’s no quarterback controversy at Georgia. 

Coach Kirby Smart was peppered with a host of quarterback-related queries Tuesday in the wake of the Bulldogs’ 36-16 loss Saturday at LSU in a game in which starting quarterback Jake Fromm didn’t have his most productive day, passing for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and freshman backup Justin Fields didn’t see much in the way of playing time, rushing once for three yards and tossing no passes. 

Smart said both Fromm and Fields must play better for No. 8 Georgia’s offense to get in gear and added there were points in Saturday’s game when he pondered expanding Fields’ role. 

“We considered it a lot and talked about it a lot,” said Smart, whose team is off this weekend before facing No. 11 Florida on Oct. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla. “The point (in the fourth quarter) after Jake went down there and scored the one touchdown, we considered it once they came back and scored on us, but to be honest with you, the game was kind of out of hand at that point.  

“Justin continues to work, and he’s doing a good job. He took good reps today, and he’s getting better. I think both of those kids understand they’ve got to play better for us to play better offensively.” 

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Fromm, who is 18-3 as a starter, ranks third in the SEC in pass efficiency (behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts) with 77 completions, 1,124 yards and eight touchdowns. But against LSU, the sophomore wasn’t sharp and took several sacks, finishing the game with minus-19 rushing yards. 

“There were some things he could have done better, most certainly,” Smart said of Fromm, who was not made available to the media Tuesday. “Some protection breakdowns a couple of times we had guys wide open, and he couldn’t get the ball out and ended up getting sacked. We had poor protection on two of them. A couple of them he missed. … He’s got to play better. He did some good things, too. Good and bad.” 

Fields, who has completed 18 of 25 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns and has rushed 18 times for 136 yards and three touchdowns, primarily in low-pressure situations, always is in the quarterback picture, Smart said. 

“Justin’s growing and getting better each and every day,” he said. “His maturity is getting better. In the meeting room, he’s picking things up and he’s developing. He’s certainly eager to get that opportunity, and if he continues to progress and do things in practice, his opportunity may present itself. We’re never closing that door completely at all because we’ve got to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win.” 

There are those among the Bulldogs fanbase who believe it’s time to make a change at quarterback and give Fields his opportunity to run the offense on a sustained basis. Smart indicated he has no trouble whatsoever tuning out the static. 

When asked if too much is being made about the Fromm-Fields situation, Smart said, “I don’t know what’s being made. … Maybe you guys are making a big deal, but it’s not to me because I don’t listen to that. In the world we live in, we have to look at the field, we have to look at the practice, we’ve got to look at what’s best for our team and whoever gives us the best chance to win is what we’ll decide to do. I’m not going to be influenced by outside forces on to who to play or what to do. 

“You can’t go just off statistics. Could (Fromm) have played better? Sure he could have played better. A lot of people could have coached better. But that’s over with. We’ve moved on to Florida and that’s what we’re focused on.” 

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