ATHENS, Ga. – There is no quarterback controversy at fourth-ranked Georgia entering Saturday’s season opener at home against Austin Peay, but nonetheless there is intrigue on who last season’s national runner-up will deploy under center. Sophomore Jake Fromm, who directed the Bulldogs to the SEC championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff title game as a freshman, has worked with the first-team offense, but highly recruited freshman Justin Fields likely will see playing time.
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“I think the game will dictate how we get to play those guys,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart told the media Monday, refusing to name a starter at quarterback or any position. “I don’t know how that’s going to come out. There’s no plan, ‘this is when he’s going to play'.”
The more pressing need is behind the quarterback, where Georgia must replace Sony Michel and Nick Chubb - who combined for 8,407 career yards and 77 rushing touchdowns - but has plenty of depth in sophomore D’Andre Swift, and juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien.
Georgia allowed only 16.4 points per game a season ago and while it lost its trio of starting linebackers, the secondary is led by All-American defensive back Deandre Baker. The Bulldogs, who fell in overtime to Alabama in the national title game, play four of their first six games at home, including home dates with Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State in the season’s opening three weeks.
ABOUT AUSTIN PEAY (2017: 8-4)
The Governors are ranked No. 23 in the FCS preseason coaches poll entering the season and return quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall, who passed for 1,148 yards last season to win the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year award.
Leading rusher Ahmaad Taylor (697 yards, eight touchdowns) also is back, but second-leading rusher Kentel Williams is suspended. Defensive end Jaison Williams recorded five sacks and forced three fumbles a season ago to highlight the defensive returners.
ABOUT GEORGIA (2017: 13-2)
Fromm took over as starter in week one and passed for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors.
Swift served as a valuable third option at running back a season ago, rushing for 618 yards and three touchdowns, and California transfer Demetris Robertson (767 yards receiving as a freshman in 2016) joins a receiving corps highlighted by Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman.
Georgia also figures to be strong on special teams again, led by kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, who hit 20-of-23 field goals last season while recording a school-record 67 touchbacks.
1. Godwin, who finished with 38 receptions for 639 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, is questionable for Saturday with a left knee injury.
2. Georgia scored on 96 percent of its red-zone possessions a season ago, recording a touchdown 71 percent of the time.
3. Austin Peay has scored in double figures in its past five games against FBS opponents, including 33 points in a loss to UCF last season.
PREDICTION: Georgia 47, Austin Peay 13