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Could QB Jake Fromm be Georgia’s biggest advantage against Alabama?
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Could QB Jake Fromm be Georgia’s biggest advantage against Alabama?

Could QB Jake Fromm be Georgia’s biggest advantage against Alabama?

Could QB Jake Fromm be Georgia’s biggest advantage against Alabama?

ATHENS – It’s well known that Kirby Smart was a recruiting dynamo at Alabama, particularly in the state of Georgia. He always had a keen eye for talent and often got the Crimson Tide involved very early with the best prospects.

That was the case with Jake Fromm. Early on, Smart identified the big right-hander from Houston County as a special player with an “it factor” that nobody can really define. Smart had a good relationship with Fromm’s high school coach, Von Lassiter, who was the first to convince him that Alabama should take a long and hard look at his quarterback.

One of Kirby Smart’s first major moves as Georgia’s head coach was to flip Jake Fromm from his commitment to Alabama, where Smart had been his chief recruiter. (Wade Payne/Associated Press)

Smart did, he liked what he saw and he invited Fromm to the Crimson Tide’s camp. That represented the beginning of a relationship that might as well have been forged in steel.

Just ask Nick Saban. He knew how close Smart had become with Fromm and his family. So as soon as Smart was tabbed to the new head coach at Georgia, Saban predicted Fromm’s defection like a zone blitz.

“We were excited to have him be part of our program,” Saban said this week , “but we understood when Kirby went to Georgia … there was a chance of that happening.

And that was exactly what happened. It might’ve even happened a little faster than Saban predicted.

While all the media attention in December of 2015 was on Smart and his new staff’s intense efforts to keep longtime commitment and 5-star prospect Jacob Eason on the hook – Jim Chaney’s first act as offensive coordinator was to fly from his old job in Pittsburgh to Lake Stevens, Wash., to meet with Eason – Smart had already made his overture to Fromm about following him to Georgia.

This is something that will probably be hard to get Fromm talk much about this week. The Bulldogs, for whom he now starts and stars, will be facing Saban’s Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday in Atlanta.

Smart, ever the controller of messages like his former boss, has restricted all media access until Saturday, when title game’s mandatory media day takes place in downtown Atlanta. And surely then Fromm will be extremely measured in anything he has to say about the events that transpired between these two schools in recruiting two years ago now.

But Fromm was quite clear on the subject when I visited with him down in Warner Robins in December of 2016, a couple of weeks before he reported to UGA as an early enrollee.

“Yes, I immediately got an offer,” Fromm said in answering the question of how soon he got a Georgia offer from Smart. “Coach Smart was recruiting me for Alabama. Coach (Lane) Kiffin, too, but I had a really great relationship with (Smart) and just really bought into everything he had to sell. I really just loved his personality. My whole family loved him. It was like a perfect win-win situation for me and my family. I fell in love with the idea of going to Georgia. I’m a hometown kid, a home-state guy. I just wanted to be there; I wanted to be in Athens.”

That’s the way Lassiter remembers it, too. Officially, Fromm’s “flip date” from Alabama to Georgia is listed on Google’s news archives as March 3, 2016. That’s when you first read about it on DawgNation.

But Fromm had re-opened his recruitment well before that, and even have silently pledged to Georgia and Smart right on the spot.

“That’s right. (Georgia) called immediately,” Lassiter recalled Wednesday. “It was just days after Kirby got the job. Maybe the first day or the second day. It wasn’t long after that, that Coach Chaney came to see him. And then we went on an unofficial visit up there.”

Regardless of the actual date or moment of betrothment, Smart had the Fromms at “hello” once he was at Georgia. He’d always been their recruiting contact at Alabama, and they’d grown quite close.

Combine that with the fact that the entire household, Fromm included, had grown up as Georgia Bulldogs’ fans, and it was a no-brainer. It didn’t matter whether Eason was already there or Tom Brady himself, Fromm was going to accept any offer from UGA.

That’s where Fromm’s heart had always been. He grew up in a house bedazzled in UGA regalia. But that all came down in the weeks and months he was committed to Alabama. While Smart and the Crimson Tide were one of the first major programs to come forth with an offer, Georgia never did.

At the apex of Fromm’s recruitment and evaluation, Brian Schottenheimer was Georgia’s offensive coordinator. And for whatever reason, Schottenheimer didn’t believe he fit the Bulldogs’ bill.

“The only time they weren’t Georgia fans is when Georgia didn’t offer him and he was committed to Alabama,” Lassiter said with a life. “They were Bama fans for a little while in there. Otherwise, they’ve been all Bulldogs all their lives.”

That’s one heck of a note now that Georgia is getting ready to face the Crimson Tide in UGA’s first appearance in a national championship game in 35 years. Few people believe that the Bulldogs would be in the position if they didn’t have Fromm under center.

At this point, the narrative that Fromm can’t make all the throws, or the one that Chaney has reduced the offense’s complexity because he has a true freshman running it, have been proven to be nothing more than myths.

There are two plays in the second half of Georgia’s Rose Bowl semifinal win over Oklahoma that do well to illustrate that.

The Bulldogs trailed 31-24 late in the third quarter and were facing third-and-seven at the Oklahoma 38 when Fromm broke the huddle and approached the line of scrimmage. Before he reached the backside of center Lamont Gaillard, he recognized something in the Sooners’ defensive set that excited him. He immediately began barking signals and shouting instructions to each of Georgia’s offensive linemen and to tailback Sony Michel, who he directed to move from the right side of the backfield to the left. At the snap, Fromm handed the ball to Michel and he rambled untouched to the right side for a game-tying touchdown.

Later, when the Bulldogs were desperately trying to get down the field in the game’s final minutes to score and force an overtime, Fromm faded back to pass on third-and-10 and delivered a strike to Terry Godwin over the middle that went for 16 yards and a first down at the Oklahoma 7. Nick Chubb would score two plays later.

Even in extra time, after Lorenzo Carter blocked Oklahoma’s field goal attempt in the second overtime, it was the true freshman Fromm who was settling down his teammates to focus on the new task at hand.

“I started getting everybody together to try to get collected and calm down and go try to score,” Fromm said. “Everybody’s is hyped and going crazy, you know, and I have to the one to get everybody to have a level head and go attack from there.”

Michel attacked with a 27-yard TD run, and the Bulldogs’ ticket to Atlanta and their biggest game in 3 ½ decades.

College football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who was calling the Rose Bowl for ESPN and will call Monday’s title game as well, was raving about what he’s seen from the young kid during a media conference call on Wednesday.

“The bigger the stage, the better he seemed to play,” Herbstrit said. “He’s one of those guys. Occasionally you have guys like that. So, as the game played out and Georgia was down, we kept trying to kind of get in front with ‘Georgia’s not out of this type of thing. This young kid is making adjustments and doing things that are unique to him.’ So, how he played, even though it would typically be very rare or unusual to see a guy play under pressure on that stage, knowing him and watching him, I personally wasn’t surprised at all.”

The ability and willingness to change plays is something Lassiter saw from Fromm going way back. Because Houston County ran so much fast-break/hurry-up offense, Fromm didn’t get a lot of opportunities to audible. But he took them whenever he could, even when his coach didn’t want him to.

Lassiter said he directed Fromm to “rodeo punt,” their terminology for a basic quick-kick, in a “huge region game.”

“That sucker changed it to a go-route with the outside receiver,” Lassiter said. “He threw it for a touchdown. If it hadn’t scored I probably would’ve strangled him. But it worked and he looked at me and shrugged his shoulders and smiled and there wasn’t much I could say.”

The crazy thing is, now some people are saying that Georgia might have the edge at quarterback in this game. And that’s with the Bulldogs going against a quarterback in sophomore Jalen Hurts who has proven himself one of the best play-makers in college football has led the Crimson Tide to 25 wins over the last two seasons and into the national championship game twice.

Saban, for one, doesn’t see anything from Georgia’s offense to indicate their true freshman quarterback is holding them back.

“He does a lot ‘check-with-me’s,’” Saban said of audibles, “which for a freshman quarterback probably demonstrates his knowledge of the game and preparation and intelligence. You know, he’s always been a fantastic passer and remains that way.”

Saban should know. He wanted him badly at Bama.

And so did Smart, wherever he happened to be coaching.

The post Could QB Jake Fromm be Georgia’s biggest advantage against Alabama? appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. That’s all the Braves could’ve asked for Julio Teheran’s return to the mound. Teheran pitched six no-hit innings in the Braves’ 4-1 win over the Padres on Sunday. He was relieved by Shane Carle after throwing 95 pitches. The right-hander was placed on the disabled list June 5 with a thumb contusion. His velocity had dipped into the mid-80s in his last start, but averaged 91-92 mph Sunday. “It was great, the way I was feeling,” Teheran said. “I was excited to be back. I feel fresh. I feel good. All my pitches, the slider there, were working. ... I was just trying to do my part. Everyone’s been playing really good. So I was just going out there trying to win this game.” After walking lead-off man Travis Jankowski and hitting Jose Pirela in the first inning, Teheran retired 15 Padres in a row, including at one point posting six straight strikeouts. Teheran struck out 11, his first double-digit strikeout total since Oct. 2, 2016, when he fanned 12 in the Turner Field finale. “I was throwing bullpens the last couple days, and my arm was feeling good,” Teheran said. “When your arm’s feeling good, you don’t have anything else to worry about. Just go out there and make pitches.” With the pitches piling up, Teheran issued two walks in the sixth. He limped when walking off the mound. That, alongside his high pitch count, made it an easy call to pull him despite a no-hit bid. Braves manager Brian Snitker said Teheran experienced a cramp in his leg. But overall, Snitker was pleased with the outing. “From the first inning on, it was good to see life on the fastball again,” Snitker said of Teheran. “I was curious about (his velocity), but he said he felt good. ... He did exactly what we wanted him to do.” Padres third baseman Cory Spangenberg hit a one-out single off Carle in the seventh for their first hit. The Braves rotation has been exceptional in the past 11 games. Starters have allowed eight earned runs in 72 innings while allowing 34 hits and walking 13. Johan Camargo’s two-RBI double against Jose Castillo put the Braves ahead in the fourth. The Braves third baseman has a hit in seven of his last 10 games, raising his average from .208 to .223. Catcher Kurt Suzuki was hit by Raffy Lopez’s back swing at the end of the second inning. He was removed for precautionary reasons and declared day-to-day. “I’ve never been hit with a backswing like that in 12 seasons,” Suzuki said. “First time getting hit right there. It was pretty brutal. It’s got a lump or whatever.” Up just a run, Tyler Flowers’ two-run homer off Brad Hand in the eighth provided the Braves some breathing room before the final frame. Carle, A.J. Minter and Arodys Vizcaino finished it for the Braves. Each pitched an inning and allowed two hits. San Diego got a run off Minter, but the trio did enough to protect the lead. Teheran and the bullpen combined for 17 strikeouts, the most a Braves team has had since Sept. 14, 2012. The Braves took three of four from the Padres, pushing them a season-best 13 games over .500. They’ve been in first place in the National League East for 43 of the last 45 days, and with Washington’s loss in Toronto, lead the East by 3.5 games. A first-place team has filled SunTrust Park: The Braves announced 40,251 in attendance Sunday, their third-straight sellout and sixth of the season.  “The support’s been great all year,” Snitker said. “People come out and it’s like they know to stay because sometimes it’s late before it happens. But it’s good. The guys love it. They appreciate it and they love it. It’s a great atmosphere.”
  • When Sam Pittman wants one of his guys, he usually lands them. Xavier Truss, a 6-foot-7 tackle from Rhode Island, is the latest example of that trend. Truss committed to UGA on Sunday during a long-planned weekend visit. He shared the news of his decision via his personal Twitter account. pic.twitter.com/ygbws6OPFD — Xavier Truss (@xtruss94) June 17, 2018 Truss rates as the nation’s No. 15 tackle prospect on the 247Sports composite ratings. The massive 350-pounder also comes in at No. 102 overall for 2019. The top player in the state of Rhode Island had been on a Southeast tour of his top schools. He just came away from a visit to Alabama, among other options. Truss becomes the second out-of-state prospect to choose the Bulldogs this weekend. Mississippi QB prospect John Rhys Plumlee also chose UGA on Friday night.  The post BREAKING: Bulldogs add massive 4-star OT Xavier Truss to 2019 hual appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - Some extra rest left Julio Teheran feeling so strong he was unhittable for six innings. That was more good news for an Atlanta rotation that is gaining momentum. Teheran pitched six no-hit innings before being pulled from his first start since coming off the disabled list, and Atlanta relievers gave up six hits Sunday while finishing off a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres. Teheran's velocity was up, with his fastball hitting 92 mph. He had been closer to 89 mph before he missed less than two weeks with a sore thumb. The boost in his fastball also helped his offspeed pitches. 'Those 10 days helped me to get everything on track,' Teheran said. '... It was kind of fun to have my stuff back.' Teheran (5-4) struck out a season-high 11, walked three and threw 95 pitches while recording 15 consecutive outs. Manager Brian Snitker said he could immediately see the difference in the right-hander's pitchers. 'It was just good to see the life on the fastball again,' Snitker said. Teheran's changeup and slider also were effective. 'He was throwing all his pitches for strikes,' said San Diego's Cory Spangenberg. 'I know through three at-bats I only got one fastball. When a pitcher is doing that, he's pretty tough to hit.' Over the last 11 home games, Braves starters have a 1.00 ERA, allowing eight earned runs in 72 innings. No starter allowed more than two runs during the streak. The bid for a combined no-hitter ended with one out in the seventh when reliever Shane Carle allowed a single to Spangenberg. Freddy Galvis added another single before Carle pitched out of the jam. Jose Vizcaino gave up singles to Spangenberg and Galvis in the ninth before striking out Christian Villanueva and Raffy Lopez. Right fielder Nick Markakis, running toward the foul line, made a diving catch of Raffy Lopez's flyball to end the game. Vizcaino earned his 15th save, including his third of the series. Johan Camargo's two-run double in the fourth off Jose Castillo (1-1) gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead. Tyler Flowers hit a two-run homer off Brad Hand in the eighth. The Padres, who lost 1-0 on Saturday, ended a 16-inning scoring drought in the eighth. Franmil Reyes singled off A.J. Minter, moved to third on Eric Hosmer's single and scored on Jose Pirela's sacrifice fly. Hunter Renfroe's fourth strikeout of the game ended the inning. TRAINER'S ROOM Braves C Kurt Suzuki left the game after he was hit on his helmet by Lopez's bat as he struck out with a big follow-through to end the second inning. Suzuki was knocked to the ground but was able to walk off the field. Manager Brian Snitker said Suzuki should be able to play in Atlanta's next game at Toronto on Tuesday. Braves third base coach Ron Washington had words with Lopez when Lopez emerged from the San Diego dugout to open the third inning. Snitker said the discussion was about Lopez not checking on Suzuki before walking away from the plate. SERIES STREAK ENDS The NL East-leading Braves won three of four in the series, ending San Diego's streak of five straight series wins. The Padres' last series loss came on May 25-27, when they dropped two of three to the Dodgers. ROSTER MOVE Braves LHP Luiz Gohara was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he will start. RHP Luke Jackson was re-signed to a major league contract after being designated for assignment on Wednesday. BULLPEN GAME Matt Strahm made his fourth start as the Padres continue to use a bullpen committee approach for one spot in their rotation. Strahm allowed only one hit with five strikeouts in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. San Diego's first four relievers allowed only two runs. 'We just didn't do enough offensively,' manager Andy Green said. UP NEXT Padres: Following an off day on Monday, LHP Eric Lauer (3-4, 6.20) will face Oakland's Paul Blackburn (1-1, 11.05) on Tuesday night in the first game of a two-game home series. Braves: Atlanta is off on Monday before opening a two-game series at Toronto on Tuesday night, when rookie RHP Mike Soroka (2-1, 2.57) faces LHP Jaime Garcia (2-5, 5.71). ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Braves' bid for a combined no-hitter has ended as reliever Shane Carle allowed a single to San Diego's Cory Spangenberg with one out in the seventh inning. Starter Julio Teheran was removed after allowing no hits through six innings. He struck out a season-high 11, walked three and threw 95 pitches Sunday. Teheran was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. He had been out since June 5 with a sore right thumb. Padres leadoff man Travis Jankowski drew a walk to begin the game and Jose Pirela was hit by a pitch later in the first inning. Teheran then recorded 15 consecutive outs before walking Jankowski with one out in the sixth. The Braves lead 2-0. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • When it comes to the SEC East this coming football season, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs are the consensus favorite. So far this offseason, the chatter mainly has been centering around which team in the division could be their biggest challenger. Early money seems to be on South Carolina. USA Today, among others, has said Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks “look like Georgia’s biggest threat in the SEC East.” Georgia’s defense stopped South Carolina’s offense when it counted last year. (Steffenie Burns/UGA) In part, the belief that the Dawgs should be on upset alert for the game against South Carolina is because the annual Border Bash is reverting this year to its traditional spot as the Dawgs’ conference opener after taking place midseason the past couple of years. After a less-than-challenging season opener at home in Athens against FCS visitor Austin Peay, kicking off SEC play the next week at Columbia could be a stern test for the Dawgs, who are replacing a bunch of key players from last year. Playing in Columbia traditionally is tough, and it’s also noteworthy that, last year in Athens, the Gamecocks put up a stiffer fight than most of Georgia’s opponents. At the time, I called it a “workmanlike win” for the Dawgs, marred by sloppy play, too many penalties, and a turnover on the opponent’s 4-yard line. The Georgia pass defense also was somewhat porous at times against the Gamecocks’ air attack, particularly on third down, and the Dawgs’ rush couldn’t get consistent pressure on quarterback Jake Bentley, who completed 21 of 35 passes. But when it counted, the Georgia defense held, and Georgia’s Jake Fromm proved he could throw the ball, too, tossing 2 touchdown strikes as the Dawgs won 24-10. Another factor in those upset alerts for the Dawgs at Columbia is South Carolina’s apparent status as the choice of the nation’s sports media as the SEC’s “most improved” or “up-and-coming” program. That appears to be based mostly on the fact that the Gamecocks having a talented, experienced quarterback in Bentley, and the return to health of highly rated wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who missed most of last year (including the Georgia game) with an injury . Expectations are that under new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon — a former Georgia player and assistant coach) —  the Gamecocks will be more dangerous offensively than last year, when they were very inconsistent. Plus, there’s this popular belief that Coach Boom’s defense will be improved from last year simply because he’s usually had good defenses in the past. USA Today’s Paul Myerberg even listed the Gamecocks— who are ranked No. 24 in the paper’s post-spring rankings, with Georgia at No. 6 — as his “dark horse” contender for the conference championship, which he expects to be won by Alabama. Of course, the preseason media darling doesn’t always pan out, and hype has a way of evaporating in the face of hard reality, as happened a few times with Tennessee during the Butch Jones era. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock could challenge a rebuilding Georgia defense. (Perry McIntyre Jr./UGA) Also, remember how Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State Bizarro Bulldogs entered their game against the Dawgs in Athens last season as probably the hottest team in college football, on the heels of a shocking upset of LSU. It only took the Dawgs one play to put that notion to rest — a terrific flea-flicker pass for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage — a play that Fromm says was his favorite of the season. Georgia went on to a fairly easy win. Still, that early date against South Carolina does look like the Dawgs’ first major challenge of the new season. However, it’s not the only potential upset that college football observers see on Georgia’s schedule. Some think Missouri’s Drew Lock, who’s had some success — though not enough — throwing against the Dawgs the past couple of years, might prove too much for a rebuilding Georgia defense. Still, former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, who spent the past five years coaching receivers for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL, is Mizzou’s new offensive coordinator — a job he’s never held before. I’m not convinced Missouri is going to be an offensive juggernaut, and the Tigers defense probably will continue to be a weak link. Others think that last year’s Georgia blowout of Florida was an aberration and that the Gators, with former Mississippi State coach Mullen now in charge, immediately will return to SEC East contender status. Again, I’m not convinced. Florida still is looking for a quarterback, and must rebuild its offensive line. Plus, Todd Grantham is the Gators’ new defensive coordinator, which should put a big smile on the faces of Georgia’s offensive staff. Yeah, Grantham improved Mississippi State’s defensive numbers last year, but he wasn’t able to handle the Dawgs. And his other game as a defensive coordinator against Georgia since leaving Athens — the 2014 Belk Bowl when he was with Louisville — also went the Dawgs’ way.  Georgia defensive back Tyrique McGhee sacked Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks last year, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. (Curtis Compton/AJC) As for the rest of the SEC East, most analysts expect Jeremy Pruitt to face tough sledding in his first year as Tennessee’s new head coach. Jones didn’t leave him much to work with. SEC sports information directors recently picked the Vols to finish last in the division in 2018. As for Kentucky, the Wildcats may have Benny Snell, probably the conference’s best returning back, but that’s not enough, and Vanderbilt don’t appear any stronger than last year. Actually, the biggest threats to Georgia’s return to the conference championship this season appear to reside in the SEC West. The Oct. 13 trip to Baton Rouge to play LSU concerns some fans, mainly because it’s always tough to play the Tigers at home. But while LSU’s defense again should be pretty good, their offense remains suspect, with the departure of their two best running backs and their offensive coordinator. Really, the toughest game on Georgia’s regular season schedule once again should be Auburn, with whom the Dawgs split a pair last year, winning the one that counted the most in the SEC Championship Game. No matter how that game turns out, Georgia remains the favorite to take the East’s spot in the SEC Championship game and even be  a possible contender for the College Football Playoff. As Lindy’s preview summed up Georgia’s prospects: “A return to the SEC title game is the baseline of what would be acceptable.” No pressure, Kirby. The post Who is Georgia’s biggest threat in the SEC East? appeared first on DawgNation.