ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Jake Fromm is in a slump.
The throws that were so accurate through most of his Georgia career are suddenly missing the mark.
Overthrown. Underthrown. Wide left and wide right.
The junior quarterback needs to snap out of it if the No. 4 Bulldogs are going to make another run at the College Football Playoff.
“We've got to do a better job helping him out,” coach Kirby Smart said Monday, “and he's got to do a better job hitting the ones when they're open.”
If there’s one thing Georgia has been able to count on the last three seasons, it’s their rock-solid quarterback.
Fromm got a shot in his very first college game when Jacob Eason was injured, made his first start the next week in a memorable victory at Notre Dame, and has gone on to post a 33-6 record as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 signal-caller, including a trip to the national championship game as a freshman.
Now, he’s gone three straight games below 50%, though the Bulldogs managed to win them all.
Still, it’s been rather jarring for a Georgia team that is 10-1 heading into the regular-season finale against woeful Georgia Tech (3-8) but has struggled to its niche offensively.
“You can tell it bothers him a little bit here and there,” tight end Charlie Woerner said. “We’re all competitive athletes. We want to do the best that we can.”
Smart said it’s “hard to put a finger” on the reasons for Fromm’s recent lack of accuracy.
This past week, the weather was awful through the first half against Texas A&M, which might have contributed to Fromm overthrowing a wide-open receiver on a flea-flicker play that should’ve been a touchdown. The Bulldogs wound up scoring just one TD and settling for four field goals in a lackluster 19-13 win over the Aggies.
Fromm finished 11 of 23 for 163 yards and seemed a bit frustrated afterward.
When asked how Georgia could generate more big plays, he replied, “Good question. If you know the answer, please let me know.” He went on to say, “We want to hit some more shots, generate more big plays, and be more explosive. That part of who we want to be. We just have to do a better job of getting there.”
On the plus side, he’s thrown six touchdown passes during that span with no interceptions.
“When we decide we want to do something on offense, we’re capable of doing it,” said Fromm, who has seen his NFL draft stock take a hit during his slump. “We just have to have a little bit more of a purpose and a little bit more want-to at times.”
Fromm completed 70% of his pass attempts (143 of 204) over the first eight games this season, which was largely in line with his career numbers (66.2%) to that point.
These last three games are a definite outlier.
Then again, the Bulldogs keep winning.
“I want to complete the ball 100%,” Fromm said. “But that’s not realistic. For me, I want to go out, I want to complete, I want to win the football game. Whatever that entails, I’m here for it.”
Georgia is a 28-point favorite against Georgia Tech, so this week’s game shouldn’t be an issue even if Fromm has another tough day. After that, the Bulldogs will make their third straight appearance in the Southeastern Conference championship game, this time against No. 1 LSU.
They’ll need to upset the high-scoring Tigers to claim a spot in the four-team national playoff, a scenario that doesn’t look overly promising if Fromm and the offense continue to struggle.
Georgia certainly has a championship defense, not to mention one of the nation’s top kickers with Rodrigo Blankenship.
But that game against LSU isn’t likely to be a field-goal contest.
“We do not want to settle for field goals,” Fromm said. “I love Rod to death, what he means to this team. But when we get on the plus side of the field, we need seven points and not three to sustain this football team and help our defense out.”