ATHENS — Tim Tebow didn’t have the arm, feet or measurables to have a long NFL career. He did have enough of everything, and the intangibles, to help Florida to two national championships and a lot of wins.
So when Tebow was asked about Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, it sounded like the Florida legend was describing himself in a lot of ways.
“He’s so much more than his measurables,” Tebow said of Fromm. “He’s intangibles, they’re special.”
Tebow is now an analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network. He spoke Friday, the day before the SEC championship, when Fromm leads No. 6 Georgia against No. 2 Auburn. Tebow said he was talking with another college football coach, who he wouldn’t name, and Fromm’s name came up.
“I don’t meant this in a bad way, but there’s nothing he does that’s overwhelming, right? There are quarterbacks in this league that you’ll say: Oh what a strong arm, or how fast is he, or how explosive is he? And with Jake you don’t see any of that,” Tebow said.
“But the No. 1 thing you see is, Dude’s just a winner. Everything he’s done he’s won. And he’s a grinder and gets it done. He’s one of those guys that you don’t want to bet against. Because he’s probably going to prove you wrong and he’s probably going to get it done. And honesty that’s probably one of the best compliments I can give someone is that he’s just a winner.”
But those intangibles will be needed in the rematch with Auburn. The first time the two teams faced off, Fromm was sacked four times, and was hurried into a number of other incompletions.
Tebow doesn’t expect Fromm to have an easier time in this game, just three weeks later.
“I think he’s going to be under a lot of pressure. I really do,” Tebow said. “I think Auburn’s going to heat him up. I think they’re going to do their best to take away the run, and take away the air in the passing game.”
Tebow elaborated: Auburn should be expected to play press man-to-man coverage on Georgia’s receivers, and if they switch to a zone to take away the slants and hitches.
Given all that, Tebow thinks the X-factor in the game is Georgia senior receiver Javon Wims, and his ability to win one-on-one battles with defensive backs and make big catches.
“You really go back to the first time these teams matched up, if they hit a couple of the deep passes they had in the first half Georgia’s winning by at least seven at halftime, and it’s a completely different game,” Tebow said. “That will be such a big part of this game: Can they win enough of those match-ups, can they buy enough time, offensive line, play-action, to get the one-on-one downfield, and then convert. I think that’s probably the biggest key to the game.”
(Auburn trailed, 16-7, after setting three times for field goals, including twice in the red zone. Georgia did miss on at least one long pass, when Fromm’s throw to Riley Ridley was a bit off and Ridley couldn’t haul it in while diving.)
Georgia also ran the ball on first down most of the time the first game. Tebow mentioned one way for the Bulldogs to change the set-up this time and take pressure off Fromm: “Pass more on first down.”
Then there’s Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who may be called on to do more this time if Auburn star tailback Kerryon Johnson can’t play or is limited.
Tebow said he’s watched film of Stidham, not just the TV version but the all-22 and coaches copies, and come away even more impressed with the Auburn quarterback.
“If he was playing like that the entire season he would definitely be a Heisman candidate,” Tebow said.
Tebow mentioned Stidham’s accuracy, especially on deep balls and crossing routes, and his ability to maneuver in the pocket.
“He’s going to have to do it in this game too, because (Lorenzo) Carter and (Davin) Bellamy, they’re definitely going to be putting some pressure on him,” Tebow said.