ATHENS, Ga. -- The theme around the Georgia Bulldogs heading into camp is that everyone seems to feel more comfortable.
There's more comfort and trust between the players and head coach Kirby Smart with a year under his belt. There's more comfort in the defense with most of the starters returning, and there's even an increased comfort in quarterback Jacob Eason.
Eason started all but one game last season as a true freshman. He showed off his arm strength, but struggled with accuracy. He showed he can handle pressure situations on the road, but also that there are pre-snap situations that can knock him off his game.
He still threw for 2,430 yards, the fourth most by a UGA freshman, and 16 touchdowns last season. He also threw eight interceptions.
With an improved offensive line and experience in the system, Eason is expected to take a big leap.
One of his targets, Jeb Blazevich, has noticed improvement from the signal caller throughout the spring and summer.
"I’ve already seen him take great steps, great strides this summer. He’s out there with us, throwing around," Blazevich said. "He’s definitely stepped up huge as a leader. The player-led stuff, he’s definitely out there yelling."
Eason needed to improve on his communication in the huddle first and foremost. Just getting comfortable with the terminology can be a challenge, and when you're the one running the offense, the task can seem daunting.
Blazevich could relate. He remembered struggling his freshman year in the huddle. At first it was just trying to catch up and understand what's going on.
"Now I know where they’re going to be, I know what to do, now I can focus on their effort, attitude and the details of how they need to execute that play," he said.
During spring practices, Smart also had seen improvement in his starting quarterback. While true freshman Jake Fromm wowed the crowd at G-Day by throwing a 42-yard touchdown to Jeremiah Holloman and leading his offense to the victory, Smart believes Eason still has the edge.
"I think Jacob understands our offense better, the checks. He knows where to go with the ball. He understands when to put us in the right play. That part I'm pleased with," Smart said.
There's no true quarterback competition this year in camp. But Blazevich points out there's always competition, whether people are watching for one or not.
"There’s still competition for him," he said. "It’s not like nothing’s competitive. Everything’s competitive around here. That’s the beautiful part, especially at quarterback. But I think that competition will drive him to be the best that he can be."