Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A red (and black) herring? The 'Georgia-can't-pass' narrative


South Carolina safety Chris Lammons was asked what part of Georgia's offense concerned him. "The run," he told reporters in Columbia. "They can't pass."

I stipulate that I've heard this from other people. If you check the raw SEC stats, you can find buttressing numbers. The Bulldogs are last in the league in passing yards per game, last (by three miles) in passes thrown. But we ask: Does that mean Georgia can't pass, or does it mean the Bulldogs simply prefer to run?

If you ask stat people, the most important offensive number is yards per pass. Not yards per completion, mind you. Yards per attempt. Know where Georgia ranks among SEC teams in YPA? Second. Behind only Missouri, the SEC team that throws it best. (Caveat: The SEC is not the Big 12 or the Pac-12.) Georgia's YPA is 9.29, just off Mizzou's 9.39. Alabama's YPA is 8.33, FYI.

Let's do more numbers. In completion percentage, Georgia ranks fifth in the SEC -- at 60 percent. In touchdown passes, it ranks seventh. But if we go by touchdowns-per-pass, the Bulldogs are again No. 2 behind Missouri, averaging a touchdown every 10.8 throws. (Mizzou averages one every 9.9.)

This isn't to suggest that Jake Fromm has a world-class arm. (He doesn't.) But to say he can't throw the ball accurately and effectively is to ignore the black-and-white truth. He's doing that already. His quarterback rating is the SEC's best.

Oh, and there's this. Fromm's completion percentage as a freshman -- 61.7. Jacob Eason's completion percentage as a freshman -- 55.1. Fromm's YPA -- 9.87. Eason's YPA last year -- 6.57.

Granted, Georgia's offense last season was a mess, which wasn't all Eason's fault. (Presumably it wasn't his ideal to have Nick Chubb block on fourth-and-1 against Vanderbilt.) And maybe a healthy Eason in Year 2 would have turned into Eric Zeier, but we can't know that. What we know is that Georgia is 8-0 and ranked No. 1 by the College Football Playoff committee, and a team cannot be that with a bad quarterback.

I will, however, concede this: There is a difference between throwing when you want and throwing when you have to throw. Georgia hasn't trailed since 3:35 remained in South Bend on Sept. 10. Jim Chaney has been able to call every tune since, and most of those tunes have stuck to the pounding beat of Chubb and Sony Michel and D'Andre Swift. Fromm hasn't faced many third-and-longs. Against a resolute defense -- Alabama has one, I hear -- he'll absolutely face third-and-long.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.