ATHENS, Ga. -- It was a bittersweet victory for the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.
They opened up the 2017 season with a 31-10 victory against Appalachian State at Sanford Stadium, a team known wreaking havoc on Michigan a decade ago. The Bulldogs easily avoided an upset, but it cost them their starting quarterback.
Jacob Eason went down with a left knee sprain just eight plays into the game. He was scrambling on a second-and-long and took a late hit from Myquon Stout on the sideline. The hit caused Eason's body to change directions, and his left leg hit the ground at an awkward position. Stout was penalized for the play.
Eason tried to return, but eventually he fell down and was taken to the sideline. He wouldn't return, and the team said he will have an MRI on Sunday.
"I hate it for Jake," head coach Kirby Smart said, "because he's worked really hard. But we don't know how long it will be."
Eason was 1-for-3 for 4 yards. Smart said he didn't even have an opportunity to get any momentum going.
True freshman Jake Fromm, a 5-star quarterback out of Houston County, entered for the Bulldogs after an impressive spring. Despite not even knowing the entire playbook, he led the Bulldogs with confidence and poise.
On his first full drive, Fromm completed two passes for 41 yards to set up a touchdown run by running back Nick Chubb. The Bulldogs scored on three consecutive drives, including Fromm's first touchdown, a 34-yard pass to Javon Wims.
Fromm finished the day 10-for-15 with 143 yards. Chubb rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow senior tailback Sony Michel had 87 yards and a rushing touchdown.
"Jake Fromm, he came in and did exactly what Jake Fromm would do," Smart said. "There's not been a moment that's too big for Jake Fromm since he's been a little kid. He's always been that way. He played in our scrimmages just how he played out there."
While there was no true quarterback competition this offseason, everyone from Smart to Eason admitted Fromm's presence has pushed the sophomore to get better.
"He came in right away as a freshman in the spring, and he commanded the huddle right away. Even when he didn't know what to do, he showed confidence and that's something you have to do as a quarterback," tight-end Isaac Nauta said after the game. "He did a good job. I'm proud of him."
Wims, who caught Fromm's only touchdown pass of the day, had three receptions for 81 yards. He knew he had to step up with the true freshman going in under center.
"I just told myself I got to go out there and make plays for him," Wims said. "As a freshman coming in, nerves are usually high. But he handled it very good. He was poised. Calm cool and collected, and I just wanted to go out there and make plays for him."
UGA should release more information on Eason on Sunday. The Bulldogs face Notre Dame in week two on the road. If Eason will be healthy enough to play, it begs the question of who will start at quarterback.
For now, we'll just have to wait and see.
"Jacob's health is the number one concern. I'm not thinking who's going to Notre Dame, whether he's going to Notre Dame," Smart said. "That'll be y'all's talk all week. The only thing I'm worried about is our team mentally and also Jacob and his family.
"I think it's a great challenge. First of all, it's an awesome opportunity for our fan base to get to go to a place that no Georgia player-- as far as I know-- has ever played. So it's a really cool deal to go and play a game like this, especially at a place like that," Smart said on Notre Dame. "I'm glad we finally get to look to it because I was never looking past App. State."PHOTOS | Jacob Eason injured in season opener