Posted: 2:19 pm Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
By Jay Black
Kirby Smart just can’t help himself.
Even when proclaiming Jacob Eason as his starting quarterback, Kirby still has to put in a qualifier.
“Jacob Eason will be able to start our game,” said Kirby Smart. “Assuming he has a good week of practice.”
Obviously it would take a monumental catastrophe on the Georgia practice field for Eason not to run out there first against Ole Miss on Saturday. But Kirby isn’t going all in on the 18-year-old just yet.
No matter how clutch he was last week.
“He’s gotten some valuable experience the last three games,” said Smart, “but let’s be honest, he’s a freshman.”
Freshman in general give college coaches the willies, but quarterbacks really make them sick.
The 18-year-old from the state of Washington certainly has had his “d’oh” moments, but the good ones have more than eclipsed the bad ones. None more so than the last of 55 passes the kid threw against Missouri. The 4-and-10 TD to Isaiah McKenzie for the win.
“Your back’s against the wall and he delivered in the moment,” said fullback Christian Payne. “He’s grown up a lot. He showed a lot of resiliency and confidence in that two minute drive.”
“He’s just a leader,” said offensive lineman Lamont Gaillard who was in that huddle on the final drive. “He said ‘let’s get it, let’s go ahead and win this game and get the touchdown and go home.'”
“That play’s done. We got to worry about Ole Miss,” said Kirby Smart.
But Kirby is right, of course. Jacob Eason helped Georgia steal a game that most were planning on them winning comfortably. You never apologize for a victory — certainly not an SEC win on the road — and yet I doubt anyone in Athens feels comfortable about this 3-0 start.
Eason threw 55 times last week. No quarterback in the history of Mark Richt did that at Georgia. In fact only two QBs in the history of football at the University of Georgia have thrown more times in a game.
This is not the sign of a new era of Georgia football or anything. The Dawgs were desperate. The Dawgs can’t run.
Now the level of competition goes up another notch.
Missouri is a cute school in the middle of America. They are in the Southeastern Conference because rich people like money, but there’s nothing South or Eastern about it.
Ole Miss on the other hand is a real SEC road game.
There will be no flash sale for 25 dollar tickets in hopes of selling the game out (didn’t work). There will be no giant pocket of Georgia red at the Grove because the Rebel fans aren’t letting these tickets go.
They’ll be wide awake, loud and intoxicated in that classy Ole Miss way, even though it’s an early kick on a hot day.
Oh and the team is much better too.
“They have a disruptive defense,” says Smart about the Landsharks.
Ole Miss’ defensive numbers are fairly high, but look at who they’ve played. There’s a shame in giving up 45 points to FSU and 48 points to Alabama, but not much.
While Ole Miss ranks next to last in total defense, they are fourth in passing yards allowed. Marquise Haynes is as good of a defensive lineman as there is in the conference.
So last week was fun Mr. Eason, but your reward is a desperate team that knows it could be the number one team in the country if it could play well in the second half.
Congratulations. Welcome to the SEC.
No. 12 Georgia faces No. 23 Ole Miss Saturday. Pregame coverage starts at 8 a.m., kickoff is at noon on WSB.