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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Freshman Jake Fromm finished Georgia's win Saturday, throwing for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017 1:00 am

Kelly likes savvy of Georgia's QB

Freshman capable of running team for injured starter

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame

vs. Georgia

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend

TV: NBC

Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM, 107.3 FM

Every now and then, even the best college football teams need to catch a break or two, and Notre Dame certainly gets one this week.

When the 24th-ranked Irish (1-0) face No. 15 Georgia (1-0) on Saturday night in South Bend, the Bulldogs will be playing without starting quarterback Jacob Eason, who hurt his left knee four days ago in their 31-10 win over Appalachian State.

Eason, a sophomore, was the top-ranked quarterback in his recruiting class, but Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly isn't letting his guard down now that Eason has a sprained ligament and won't face the Irish.

Instead, Kelly is talking up the threat posed by freshman Jake Fromm, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown after Eason left.

“Both quarterbacks are at Georgia because they're capable of being a (starter),” Kelly said. “Eason and Fromm ... are both really good players. We didn't (recruit Fromm), but I see all the quarterbacks, and I always liked his presence and his savvy. He always seemed to be very comfortable.”

Fromm reminds Kelly of Notre Dame's backup signal-caller, Ian Book.

“Just has that 'it' as a quarterback,” Kelly said. “I really like Jake Fromm. Everybody says, 'Well, he's a freshman, and he's only had a couple of snaps.' Look, I'm not an expert, but I've been in this game awhile, and he's got a presence about him, and he's very comfortable running the Georgia offense.”

Fromm enrolled early and participated in spring practice, which likely gives Georgia coach Kirby Smart more confidence in him.

“I thought he came in and managed the situation well,” Smart said. “Every situation will be different because App State obviously wasn't planning for him, so the next team will be. We know that. Jake Fromm is a mature freshman that's going to be able to take over the offense and hopefully execute. He's got some good players around him. He's got to use those guys.”

Kelly did concede that the Irish will try to make Fromm beat them, as opposed to running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who combined for 1,970 rushing yards last year with 12 touchdowns.

Still, Eason was an influential piece of an eight-win season, throwing for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns. Just don't expect Kelly to breathe a sigh of relief regarding his absence.

“Again, the narrative might be that Eason is out, and he's a fine quarterback, certainly, but I think they're in very capable hands,” Kelly said. “(Fromm) will do a great job for them.”

Notes: Alohi Gilman, a transfer from Navy, appealed the NCAA's decision to deny him a waiver to be immediately eligible to play for Notre Dame. Kelly said Tuesday the appeal was also denied, meaning all avenues are closed and Gilman must wait until 2018 to make his Irish debut. ... Tight end Durham Smythe, who was placed in concussion protocol after leaving the Temple game and never returned, is doing “quite well,” Kelly said. The senior was slated for non-contact drills Tuesday and progress to full contact today.

cgoff@jg.net