Transfer wide receiver Lawrence Cager talked about catching extra passes from Jake Fromm after showing up in Athens this summer.
Georgia’s other wideouts talked about working with Fromm after practices during preseason camp to perfect their timing. Fromm throws hundreds of passes during the Bulldogs’ workouts every day on Woodruff Practice Fields.
He throws a few on Saturdays, too, when Georgia plays actual games.
The subject of how often Fromm passes the football is of particular pertinence this week because everybody is talking about how poorly Fromm has been throwing it of late.
Fromm completed just 11-of-23 attempts for 163 yards — or 47.8 percent — against Texas A&M Saturday. That represented the third consecutive game that Georgia’s junior quarterback completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He was 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) against Missouri and 13-of-28 (46.4) against Auburn.
Hence, the question that coach Kirby Smart fielded on Monday during his weekly news conference: Any chance Fromm might be suffering from a little arm fatigue if not some sort of injury?
“Yeah, his arm’s fine,” Smart snapped.
If that’s the case, then it leads only to more questions about Fromm and Georgia’s offense.
A year after averaging nearly 40 points a game, the No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (10-1, 7-1 SEC) are averaging 31.2 heading into Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech (3-8, 2-6 ACC). That number drops to 25.6 points in SEC games and 22.7 in the month of November.
To be clear, the Bulldogs have continued to win their games during this apparent offensive regression. There has also been a notable uptick in the level of defensive competition and, for two games at least, the tangible factor of inclement weather.
But it has been Fromm who has incurred the brunt of the criticism. That was emphatically the case this past Saturday as Fromm — switching from wearing a glove on his throwing hand and not — missed open receivers throughout. Nowhere was it more glaring than when Fromm overthrew a wide-open George Pickens for a sure touchdown on a flea-flicker.
He also missed a wide-open Brian Herrien for a red-zone first down on a wheel route in the first half.
“You've got to hit the open guy,” Smart said. “Jake would be the first to tell you that. We missed a couple, made a couple. There are no easy throws. … But we've got to do a better job helping him out and he's got to do a better job hitting the ones when they're open.”
It hasn’t hurt Georgia lately. But with LSU and its 48.5-point scoring average awaiting in the SEC Championship game in two weeks, the national narrative is that Georgia couldn’t possibly keep pace with such an explosive offensive team.
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they feature the SEC’s best defense, which leads the nation in points allowed at 10.6 points per game. But even if Georgia holds LSU significantly below its scoring average, the Bulldogs know they have to get much more out of their offense.
Fromm knows this better than anybody.
“Obviously we want to play better and score more points,” Fromm said after the win over Texas A&M. “But that’s football. We don’t always have to win pretty or put up this stat or that stat or this many points. For us, it’s about playing tough, playing physical and winning the football game.”
Fromm always has incurred criticized for not having the strongest of arms. What has never been questioned during his three seasons as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback is his accuracy. This is, after all, the same quarterback that finished last season No. 5 in the nation and No. 2 in school history with a pass efficiency rating of 171.2.
Earlier this season, Fromm seemed a shoo-in to complete his career as Georgia’s all-time leader in passing accuracy. Aaron Murray holds the school record for career completion percentage at 62.3 percent. Fromm entered the season at 64.8, then completed exactly 70 percent of his passes through the first eight games.
He has completed 46.3 in the three games since.
That still gives Fromm a career completion percentage of 64.3. But it also has everybody asking, what’s wrong with Fromm?
That question has Fromm’s teammates coming to his defense.
“Jake’s fine,” senior tight end Charlie Woerner said. “He’s a great quarterback. I mean, yeah, it was a little hard to throw the ball on Saturday because everything was so wet and everything. But Jake’s fine. He’s a really good football player and he does so much for this offense, a lot more than a lot of people know. He gets us in the right situations when teams are blitzing and stuff like that. Jake’s a great quarterback.”
Said running back D’Andre Swift: “Jake’s a great quarterback and I love him. We can’t forget that we won the game. To get where we want to go, we’ve got to get better on offense, and we will. But Jake's fine.”
The Bulldogs should have an opportunity to work out the kinks this Saturday. In Georgia Tech, they face a defense that ranks 82nd in the nation in yards allowed (415.9 pg) and 119th against the run (214.9).
Asked what Georgia needed to do to become more explosive on offense, Fromm laughed.
“Good question. If you know the answer, please let me know,” he said. “That’s just part of it. We want to hit more shots and generate more big plays and be more explosive. That’s who we want to be. We’ve just got to do a better job of getting there.”
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