College Sports

Is Jake Fromm a game manager? Will Muschamp just thinks he does ‘phenomenal job’

When South Carolina’s defense takes the field this Saturday against No. 3 Georgia, it’ll be facing one of the nation’s best offenses. The Bulldogs rank in the top 15 nationally in points and yards per game, and ESPN’s Football Power Index pegs UGA at fifth in the nation in offensive efficiency.

The guy orchestrating it all, junior quarterback Jake Fromm, is a potential high-round NFL draft pick with impressive numbers through five games — eight touchdowns, no interceptions, a 77.5 percent completion rate, 9.7 yards per attempt and a 182.7 rating.

But for a long time now, Fromm has been criticized by some as a “game manager” — a competent QB capable of guiding Georgia’s high-powered attack, but never the playmaker that’s the reason the Bulldogs win.

And Fromm certainly lacked the pedigree of the two quarterbacks he’s beaten out for Georgia’s starting job in his career — Jacob Eason and Justin Fields were both top-five national prospects and transferred to other schools, and Fields has become a Heisman candidate at Ohio State.

So with all that taken into account, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp knew he might be hitting a nerve with some Bulldog fans when he was talking about Fromm’s game on the weekly SEC teleconference.

“I hate to use the word manage, because everybody looks at that as being conservative or whatever it is, but he does a phenomenal job of managing their offensive football team,” Muschamp said. “He does it extremely well.”

To be clear, Muschamp wasn’t trying to give a back-handed compliment. His point was more about how well Fromm executes what coach Kirby Smart wants.

“His overall command of what they do, he’s an extension of what they want done on the field as coaches. He’s gonna get them in the right look in the run game, he’s gonna get them in the right protection, he’s gonna take the ball to the right place and he’s going to be very accurate with the football when he throws it,” Muschamp said. “Those things and as far as running their football team, running their offensive football team, he does a fantastic job.”

Fromm’s accuracy seems to particularly impress Muschamp.

“Jake Fromm is completing right about 80 percent of his passes. I think he was 24-of-29 (against Tennessee). Very accurate with the football,” Muschamp said in his weekly press conference Tuesday. “A lot of command in what they do offensively.”

Fromm ranks third nationally in completion race and is on pace, along with LSU’s Joe Burrow, to shatter the SEC season record. His career completion percentage of 66.8 percent would rank fourth in conference history.

Muschamp isn’t the only coach in this weekend’s matchup who has praised the opposing QB — Georgia’s Kirby Smart was very complimentary of freshman Ryan Hilinski, calling him “talented” and predicting “he’s going to be a really good player in this league for a long time.”

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Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.