Jake Fromm on the road: A concern for Georgia or a false narrative?

12:19 p.m Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 Sports

Welcome back to the UGA Mailbag, where each week we invite readers ask our expertise (low bar) about Georgia football, UGA athletics or whatever springs to mind. This week we delve into  RPOs, and asked the questions: Why does “deep” have be in the South’s Oldest Rivalry name? Did Kirby Smart and Nick Saban play possum last weekend? Plus, over-under predictions on Georgia and Auburn, and a deep discussion on a quality TV show.

But first, as you may be able to tell from the headline, we begin with a question about Georgia’s freshman quarterback:

Before UGA started running up the score against Tennessee and took the crowd out the game, I remember Jake Fromm having trouble with the crowd noise and checking plays at the line. Do you see the crowd noise affecting Fromm this weekend?  If so, how much?
– BearDawg

This idea that Fromm has trouble on the road seems like a false narrative … until you look at the stats.

Fromm at home: 69.3%, 11.7 yards per attempt, 10 TD, 1 INT
Fromm on the road/neutral: 55%, 6.9 ypa, 5 TD, 3 INT

The Tennessee game is the closest corollary to what Fromm is about to face, as the Notre Dame game was close to if not an even crowd split, so was Vanderbilt, and Florida definitely was. At Neyland Stadium, with about 100,000 orange fans yelling, Fromm began the game 0-for-4 while taking a sack, before getting going on the third drive and completing five passes for 62 yards on that drive including the touchdown to make it 10-0. Then Georgia basically stopped passing and Fromm finished with only 22 more passing yards.

It doesn’t feel like Fromm has struggled on the road. Even with the Notre Dame crowd being such as it was, it was still impressive for him to deal with that and win, though it was by no means a perfect performance. Fromm just has that aura about him, that “it factor” as teammates said even before the trip to Notre Dame, where it seems like you don’t have to worry about him being rattled. He also seems to be one of those short-memory guys, as evidenced by the way he’s followed up his turnovers this year, some of them costly: By shaking them off and playing well the rest of the game.

None of this is to say that the dam couldn’t break this weekend. Auburn is likely to keep this game closer than Tennessee did, and if Fromm does struggle the way he did at the outset at Neyland, the Bulldogs probably aren’t going to be able to just hand the ball off and coast the rest of the way. I could see a scenario where Fromm finally meets his match with the Auburn defense and the crowd.

But I won’t predict that.

It seems like RPO’s are all the rage.  So I was wondering: What technique is being taught to the O line when the play is a RPO?  It used to make me crazy when Auburn would have 3/4 linemen 4/5 yards past the line of scrimmage and then Cam would pull up and chunk one downfield.  As David Pollack once said, “it’s cheating”.  So how does an offensive lineman stay legal when he doesn’t know if the play will turn out to be a run or a pass?  

(This new fangled offensive game drives me nuts.  I’m so old, we were taught to grab our own jerseys so we didn’t get called for holding!)
– Frank from McDonough

Frank, this is a good question, and a well-timed one: I received it Wednesday afternoon just before interviews, so I trotted out to Isaiah Wynn and put your question to him: How much does it affect how you block?

“None at all. It’s funny that you mentioned that, because just last week we came out of the game and we were like, How many times did we throw the ball? We were thinking probably about eight. But with the RPOs it came out to be 26. So half the time we’re just run-blocking.”

So mainly, Wynn said, the linemen are run-blocking and if they pass the ball they don’t really know.

As for avoiding going downfield and drawing a penalty on those RPOs that turn out to be passes, Wynn said they’re aware and careful.

“But a lot of times you’re not driving anybody those three or four yards,” Wynn said, with a chuckle, adding with another laugh: “Nobody’s gotten caught with it yet, so …”

The UGA/Auburn game is known as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The first meeting was played on February 20, 1982. The UNC/Virginia game is known as the South’s Oldest Rivalry. Their first meeting was on October 22, 1982, making them the South’s second oldest rivalry. The UGA/Auburn game is not only the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, but also the true South’s Oldest Rivalry. Why is the South’s Oldest Rivalry distinction given to UNC/Virginia?
– Joshua Stanfield

Believe it or not I got several questions about this, and believe it or not I don’t have a definitive answer: You are correct that the Georgia-Auburn series began before UNC-North Carolina. So I did a bit of research, and spoke to Loran Smith about it, and here’s the best I could gather:

Dan Magill, UGA’s historian (while not coaching tennis) was the one who coined it the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, according to Smith, who theorized that Magill, a stickler for historical accuracy, did it to be safe. The “South” could be a wide area, so Magill wanted to make sure someone else couldn’t stake the claim.

Tennessee, for instance, played its first football game in 1891, though it was against Sewanee, which clearly it doesn’t play again. But what if it did? Magill probably also wanted to make sure there wasn’t a smaller program somewhere (like Sewanee) that could claim it had been playing Carson-Newman since 1886 or something like that. Apparently he just felt confident that in what could fairly be termed the deep South nobody besides Georgia and Auburn had been playing each other that long.

Now, a good question is why indeed do North Carolina and Virginia claim the South’s oldest rivalry? The Tar Heels and Cavaliers have played each other more often – by two games, by my count – than the Tigers and Bulldogs. But unless I’m missing something it definitely is not the oldest rivalry in the South.

That said, I would bet very few people at Virginia and North Carolina actually know about the name. Or that the rivalry between their two programs is supposed to be a big deal. There are literally books written about the Georgia-Auburn series, but I’m not sure there are any about UVA-UNC.

Looking at Georgia’s win and Alabama’s win on Saturday, is there any chance that both coaching squads were trying to win in a manner that would get them to come in at number two on the CFB rankings? In other words, is each coach trying to give the other a dose of iocaine rat poison?
– BcD

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about coaches from covering them for 20 years, it’s that none ever takes any game for granted, at least conference games. They’re all paranoid that something could go wrong. Intentionally trying to play a game close would be coaching malpractice, and they know it.

What does happen is coaches hold some plays back until they feel they need it. Georgia hasn’t been blitzing much on defense lately, so is the Auburn game when Mel Tucker throws in some wrinkles? Does Jim Chaney throw in an unused play, like finally throwing out of the Jayson Stanley-Trey Blount formation? Does Kirby Smart call for a fake punt or field goal?

Of course, Smart did call for an onsides kick on the opening kickoff against South Carolina. Unless he somehow was intentionally trying to play from behind from the start, the strategy there was contrary to trying to play it close.

Points to you, by the way, for combining references to Princess Bride and Nick Saban.

Hey Seth, long time listener to the show.  Just wanted to open that way.  I know this isn’t a show, but why not.  My question is which coaches do you see as most likely to leave for another coaching job?  Also, let’s say UGA stays successful for a few years, which I think they will due to recruiting.  Does Chaney leave like he seems to do after a few years at a job?  I’ll leave you with Air Supply, “ I can’t live, if living is without you. I can’t give, I can’t give anymore.”
– Jamie Bailey

We’ve now done Princess Bride and Air Supply, which while not anything to be ashamed of in isolation does point to some potential demographic concerns.

When you win, coaches leave for better jobs. You can never predict which jobs will open and who they will want to hire. Maybe if Florida doesn’t hire Jim McElwain in 2014, then Colorado State doesn’t hire Mike Bobo, and Bobo stays at UGA and Georgia’s offense doesn’t take a dive, and Mark Richt is still Georgia’s coach right now, and Kirby Smart is South Carolina’s coach right now.

(I will leave it to others to comment on that, but that’s how the dominoes in this business work. Or in a lot of jobs. If the Macon Telegraph Georgia beat job doesn’t open in 2010, then I don’t come here to bother you people all these years.)

OVER-UNDER

Thank you once again to Forestry Dawg. Let’s go:

Kerryon Johnson Rushing Yards, 99.5 … Under, but that depends on how many carries he gets. Johnson – who by the way didn’t play against Clemson – had 116 rushing yards against Mississippi State, which is statistically the best run defense he’s gone against. That was on 23 carries. My guess is Johnson averages about 3.5 yards per carry, so it depends a lot on how Auburn passes and how many plays it gets, period.
Jarrett Stidham Completions of 20+ Yards, 1.5  …
Over. Stidham has 24 pass plays of 20 or longer this year, and past games have shown that on occasion Georgia’s secondary can be susceptible to them.
Auburn Second Half Points, 6.5 
… Over. But I didn’t feel too confident typing that.
Auburn Total Yards, 274.5 …
Over. Georgia will be salty, but Auburn hasn’t been under 300 yards since the Clemson game.
Georgia Sacks, 3.5 
… Under. I’ll say two is the number.
Georgia Receivers with Touchdowns, 1.5
… Under. One for Terry Godwin or Javon Wims, one for a tight end or tailback.
Georgia Rushing Yards, 224.5
… Under. I’ll say it’s around 200. The most anyone has gained rushing against Auburn this year is 194 (by Mississippi State.)  
Jake Fromm Clutch 3rd Down Conversions, 3.5 
… Over.
Defensive or Special Teams Touchdowns, 0.5
… Over. Maybe it’s on punt return, where Mecole Hardman has been pretty close to breaking one.

LIGHTNING ROUND

This season once again makes it clear that scheduling strong non-conference opponents is extremely important. So why does our AD talk about more marquee matchups but then pens in ULM for 2020? (Zero style points for UVA, by the way.)
– Mark DelRosario

The answer to all your questions is money, to quote Tony Kornheiser. (Who was quoting someone else.) UGA and the Athens area can make more money on home games, and see no huge difference in business between hosting a Sun Belt team or Notre Dame, UCLA or Georgia Tech. People come either way. So until that changes, or until Georgia or an SEC team misses the playoff because of a weak schedule, then the philosophy will remain as is: A big-time series every few series, but otherwise as many home games as possible.

Will Kirby get a contract extension at the end of the year?
– William Neilson

I’d be surprised if he didn’t at this point.

Any best guesses as to who will be the 10th assistant Kirby hires in January? If there’s too many coaches to choose from to make a guess now, then maybe what side of the ball, or role, do you see the hire being?
– Teddy

A lot probably depends on whether a current coach gets a better job elsewhere, opening up a slot with the potential to shake things around. Or if Scott Fountain, whose work on special teams has apparently yielded good results, gets another offer, and Smart decides he needs to keep him by making him special teams coordinator. (Shane Beamer can just do tight ends in that case.)

So what’s the deal with Rashad Roundtree. Five-star recruit that hasn’t hardly seen the field other than special teams in two years. Hasn’t been much talk about what his injury may be this year that won’t allow him to play.
– Palmer Wood

The nature of the injury or injuries hasn’t been divulged, but he’s at practice as an observer with no obvious lower or upper body hindrance. So feel free to guess from there. When healthy he may have been a bit stuck between positions: Not quite fast enough for safety but not quite big enough for linebacker.

Since a 12-1 SEC Champ UGA is a playoff lock, should we rest our starters against Auburn or Tech?
– Kyle Lebet

Probably. I mean, beating Alabama in the championship game is a foregone conclusion, right?

Update on redshirts? Matt Landers, specifically. Any word on how Netori Johnson, Isaiah Wilson, D’Marcus Hayes are developing?
– LarDawg

Those four are all redshirting, along with defensive backs Latavious Brini, Eric Stokes and Tray Bishop. (William Poole played in the first three games but not since then, so if there’s an injury situation with him he would be eligible for a medical redshirt.) Landers has gotten a lot of kudos from Smart for his work as the main scout-team receiver, at least when Georgia is playing a team with a tall receiver. As for the offensive linemen, it’s quiet on that front, though that’s not necessarily good or bad.

Couldn’t Georgia wear those black uni’s on the road at Tech, who prefers traditional home white?  Looking ahead, Tech could be playing to prevent a losing record in that game.  Black would be fitting for such an occasion as putting to death any Yellow Jacket bowl hopes in this season of revenge.
– Jason DeFoor, Conway, S.C.

I believe we are contractually obligated to answer at least one black jersey question every week, and this does a good job of furthering the discussion.

AND FINALLY …  

90210 or Melrose Place?
– Kasey

This is an important debate. Few people may realize that Melrose was a spin-off, but a forced one: Kelly (real life crush Jennie Garth) was suddenly dating Jake (don’t’ remember the actor’s real name) who lived at Melrose Place, and bam, there was your spin-off. The show also wasn’t doing too well in the ratings until the writers had the characters hopping into bed with each other, and Heather Locklear joined the show.

Melrose Place had a lot of annoying characters with no depth to them, especially the men. But it also had strong female characters, and one of them was in Spaceballs (Daphne Zuniga). So that’s big.

Beverly Hills 90210, on the other hand, was sort of an anthem for kids like me coming of age at that point. We didn’t necessarily identify with those characters, especially those of us whose boyhood homes were the size of Steve Sanders’ bathroom, but at that age your entertainment is steeped more in admiration. We all wanted to be as cool as Dylan, as suave as Brandon, never make the mistake of trying to rap like David, date someone as good-looking as Kelly, and be friends and then dump and then regret dumping someone as smart as Andrea.

The show went off the rails in later years when Valerie came on the scene and they couldn’t decide how evil to make her, Dylan left and then came back, Kelly had a drug problem and then didn’t, and Donna remained on the show because of many important plot reasons, including that her father was the producer.

If you can’t tell by now, I’d choose 90210 because they created this reality that somehow in my mind I think is still ongoing: Somewhere Brenda is on her fourth husband, Brandon and a nice girl he met at a soup kitchen are married with three kids, Dylan and Kelly are together but not married, and Steve Sanders has become the star of a cult show called Sharknado. (Donna and David, we don’t really care.)

Whereas Melrose Place was just a fun show and an excuse for us to watch people hop in bed with each other. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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