21/01/2018

College football championship: Georgia trusts Jake Fromm to finish storybook freshman year in style

El pasado Lunes 08

College football championship: Georgia trusts Jake Fromm to finish storybook freshman year in style

Jake Fromm continues to show uncommon poise as a freshman, and that could end in championship fashion for Georgia on Monday.

Jake Fromm continues to show uncommon poise as a freshman, and that could end in championship fashion for Georgia on Monday.

ATLANTA — Freshman quarterback Jake Fromm bobbed his head, whistled and whispered the words as the fight song blared on the loudspeakers at Phillips Arena on Saturday. 

"Glory, glory, to old Georgia/Glory, glory, to old Georgia ..." 

When the music stopped, Fromm took the rapid-fire questions at the College Football Playoff Media Day in rhythm, spinning one into the next one as reporters asked about the Bulldogs' championship matchup with Alabama on Monday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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Fromm, like Alabama's Jalen Hurts last season, is in position to become the first freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national championship since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in 1985. How does that feel?

"Honestly, you know, sometimes I really don't feel like a freshman at all," Fromm said. "The guys really don't treat me as one. Just go out and play football. You come into work every day, get treated like everyone else and I love it."

Fromm isn't just in position to lead a national title run as a freshman, he's also in a position to drive out ghosts from seasons past. Georgia's national championship drought extends to 1980, when the Bulldogs beat Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl behind freshman Herschel Walker. 

In that regard, it seems fitting that Fromm’s big-game baptism came at South Bend on Sept. 9. Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney laughs about it now. He remembers seeing Fromm motioning up to the booth in that game. 

"I knew the game that I called at Notre Dame was pretty conservative and he was clicking," Chaney said. "It was like he was [saying], 'Come on, Chaney, come on, come on catch up with me.' I'm like, 'All right, kid. Let's go.'"

Fromm, meanwhile, remembers a five-yard touchdown pass to Terry Godwin that tied the game in the first half. Fromm defers the credit to the running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, along with the offensive line and receivers who helped Georgia pull off that crucial 20-19 victory. Coach Kirby Smart insisted the trust factor was there the previous week against Appalachian State, but this proved something else.

Chaney remembers his gut reaction in the locker room afterward.

"I felt real comfortable that we could do about what we needed to do with him, and he wasn't ever going to be the reason we couldn't do something," Chaney said.

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That's the narrative that persists heading into the championship game. If the Crimson Tide limit that Chubb-Michel tag-team, how will Fromm respond? After all, Georgia might be the SEC champion, but Alabama is favored. The Crimson Tide also lead the FBS in defensive passing efficiency. 

That's another question Chaney isn’t afraid to tackle after watching Fromm lead the game-tying drive in the Rose Bowl.

"I've always said this, that if we ever got in a situation we had to go throw it, I wasn't the one worried about it," Chaney said. "You guys all are. What happens if Georgia has to throw it? I was never too worried about it. I think he can demonstrate what he can do. That's what he did his whole high school career."

Smart reiterated that point.

"People were like, 'Well, Georgia's not throwing Jake Fromm,'" Smart said. "We didn't have to throw in some of those games, so why are we going to do it just to do it?"

Plus, Fromm proved he could do it in the last two games, easily the biggest stages in his young career. Look at Fromm’s numbers from the SEC championship game and the thrilling 54-48 Rose Bowl victory against Oklahoma: He was 36 of 51 (70.5 percent) for 393 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

It's clear Smart has that trust in Fromm, the same that Fromm showed in the second-year coach who recruited him to Alabama when he was the Tide's defensive coordinator under Nick Saban. Fromm, however, always knew where he wanted to play.

"I grew up a Georgia boy," Fromm said. "This is where I always wanted to go — where I always wanted to play —  and now I’m here playing football for the Dawgs. I couldn’t be more excited about it."

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That showed toward the end of the rapid-fire session, when a reporter asked Fromm a series of questions with three answers. Dream dates? Favorite Georgia players? Fromm smiled and played along.

How about three things you're scared of?

"Spiders, snakes," Fromm said before a long pause. "And I don’t like ghosts."

Nobody at Georgia does. That's makes Fromm the perfect guy to bring the glory back to Georgia.

What a fitting end to a freshman year that would be.

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