Oklahoma coach downplays Jake Fromm's success

The Sooners defensive coordinator wasn't ready to start handing out generous compliments to the freshman quarterback.

LOS ANGELES -- There's plenty of hype around Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm.

After getting thrown into the starting role after sophomore Jacob Eason went down in the first game with an injury, Fromm has led the No. 3 Bulldogs all the way to the Rose Bowl where they will go up against No. 2 Oklahoma.

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There have been plenty of memorable moments for the freshman. They include his first start at a raucous-- but Georgia friendly-- crowd at Notre Dame, where the Bulldogs were able to head out with a 1-point victory.

He's had miraculous touchdown passes and has led the offense despite it being loaded with senior leaders, such as Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, who could try and take over.

Fromm has been impressive. But when 11Alive asked Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops about his perception of the quarterback, he seemed to downplay his success and deflect it towards others.

"I think he's been fabulous for a freshman. You try to really dissect a quarterback and what they do and what they don't do well," Stoops said commenting on precocious quarterback. But then he started to include subtle digs.

"Obviously, they rely heavily on their run game, so that's a quarterback's best friend. Whether it's Baker Mayfield, Jake Fromm, it really doesn't matter. Your ability to run the football sets up everything you do as a quarterback. They certainly excel at that."

Stoops isn't wrong. Chubb and Michel combine for 2,123 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. They are dominant, and their dominance forces defenses to respect both the run and pass game.

Fromm has 2,173 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. His receivers have helped him look good. Terry Godwin and Javon Wims have made acrobatic catches this season to help out their freshman, quarterback and Fromm knows it.

"I definitely think our [receivers] are a little underrated," Fromm said. "Those guys, they can go up and make plays with the best of them. I have complete trust in every single one of them."

But Fromm also has power and accuracy. Not every throw has been a jump ball. There have been impressive passes right in the hands of receivers as he avoids pressure. But Stoops still doesn't seem overly impressed.

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"They put him in good positions to do what he does. We don't look at him as a game manager. How they set up their game plan week to week, they do an excellent job. They know how to get him in the situations they like," he said.

"That being said, they don't want to be 3rd and long all day. They do a good job keeping themselves in manageable situations. And their receivers have really stepped up and helped them as well."

Georgia ranks sixth in the nation on third downs. On third downs with more than 7 yards to go, Fromm's made first down plays 57.5 percent of the time. He also has three touchdowns. They're not gaudy numbers, but they could cause doubt in Stoops' statement.

Fromm has faced criticism all season from opponents. Whether it's the "slant" comment from the Florida Gators or the "They can't pass" comment from South Carolina, Fromm has just trucked along, not letting it phase him in the slightest.

Add "3rd and long" to that list.

"I didn't really pay much attention to it," Fromm said on the criticism he's received throughout the season. "I just played better football and played behind my guys, and they took care of me."

We'll see which one, Stoops or Fromm, will have the last laugh on their way to the national championship.