Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm threw more incomplete passes in last week’s game at Missouri (10) than in the Bulldogs’ three previous games combined (nine).
Still, Fromm has completed 72.5 percent of his passes this season, a significant jump from 62.2 percent last year, and at this early juncture is on pace to break the UGA and SEC single-season records for completion percentage.
“I’m not a huge stats guy,” Fromm said, “but that is one that kind of sticks out. It’s, like, ‘Hey, you know, I’m getting balls to my guys.’”
The quarterback who helped lead Georgia to the national championship game as a freshman last season appears to be taking his play to another level, at least statistically, as a sophomore.
“He never missed a beat from last year,” Georgia senior center Lamont Gaillard said. “He just kept it rolling.”
Fromm has completed 50 of 69 passes through four games, including two road games against SEC opponents and two home games against overmatched opponents from outside the five power conferences. That puts him on pace, one-third of the way through the regular season, to eclipse Hutson Mason’s UGA single-season pass completion percentage record of 67.9, set in 2014. Fromm’s completion percentage last season was the seventh best in UGA history.
Both Fromm and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who also has completed 72.5 percent of his passes this season, are in position to challenge former Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch’s SEC single-season pass completion percentage record of 72.3, set in 1998.
Fromm completed 15 of 18 passes for 194 yards in the Bulldogs’ SEC opener at South Carolina and 13 of 23 for 260 yards at Missouri. But in the latter game, he was 7-of-9 for 194 yards in the second half, including touchdown passes of 33, 61 and 54 yards to three different receivers, after going an uncharacteristic 6-of-14 for 66 yards in the first half.
For the season, Fromm has passed for 739 yards and nine touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice. Because of Georgia’s one-sided wins in its first three games, he hadn’t played past the third quarter this season until last week’s 43-29 win. Highly regarded freshman quarterback Justin Fields also has played in all four games.
Georgia’s 4-0 start has boosted Fromm’s record as its starting quarterback to 16-2. The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs, who have scored more than 40 points in each game this season, will play Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC) in Sanford Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Georgia’s first SEC home game of the season.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart mentioned several factors that contribute to Fromm’s improved completion percentage in his second season in UGA’s system – and one thing that he doesn’t think is a factor.
“I don’t think … he was less accurate last year,” Smart said.
Instead, Smart offered this explanation: “I think he’s able to make quicker, smarter decisions. He processes information really quick. He understands what defenses are trying to do. He’s got more experienced wideouts. We had good wideouts last year, but the kids this year (have) a bigger body of work. … They’re catching the ball better now. … He understands where the checkdown is. He knows how to use the tools that are around him.”
Fromm also credits his receivers, a deep and talented group that has withstood a string of injuries.
“As long as (the receivers) are getting the ball, we’re putting the offense in a good situation,” Fromm said. “... That (receivers) room is very talented. You can go in there and just see the physical stature of the guys in there. Guys in there can run really fast, and guys are really tall, and guys can make really good plays. It speaks to the depth of the room and how tough that room is.”
Fromm also attributed his higher completion percentage to his “understanding more of football” and realizing “when in doubt just check it down” and to offensive coordinator Jim Chaney putting the unit in good situations.
Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was Alabama’s defensive coordinator when Fromm completed 16 of 32 passes for 232 yards in Georgia’s overtime loss to Alabama in last season’s national championship game.
“I thought Jake Fromm was the most efficient quarterback that (Alabama) played against last year,” Pruitt said in a news conference this week. “He is very accurate. He is like a coach on the field. He has command. He keeps them out of bad plays and even puts them in good plays.”