Had Georgia fans seen Jacob Eason's stat line before the game, many would have probably foregone the trip to Columbia, figuring the Dawgs had lost for the fourth consecutive time, again to an under matched South Carolina team. Sunday, Georgia's freshman quarterback went 5/17 for a dismal 29 yards with one touchdown and one interception. It was rather reminiscent of the struggles Georgia had faced for the majority of the past two seasons, not the glimpses of brilliance seen against Missouri and Tennessee.
But as bad as Eason may have played, Georgia went into a tough environment, in a game at an absurdly odd time due to inefficiency on the part of South Carolina higher ups, and won in a place that has thwarted success for recent teams. He wasn't great, but he didn't have to be. Mostly thanks to the fact that when healthy, Georgia could boast the most talented backfield in college football. With two running backs topping 100 yards, another one very close, and a very capable rusher on the bench, it looks like Jim Chaney has adopted the "running back by committee" scheme, ensuring that fresh legs are always in the game. This has proved costly for opposing defenses, especially in the last two weeks.
Mistakes were certainly made by Eason. Often, he looked like a freshman overwhelmed by an SEC defense, but at the end of the day he got a win. He's had to do it on his own, but he was poised enough yesterday to defer the "responsibility" to someone else. That combination is something that has been missing from Georgia's signal caller since Aaron Murray left town.
Georgia has shown extremely positive aspects in all facets of their offense, throwing the ball, as well as effectively running inside and outside of the tackles. The issue: they have yet to have a game where they have put all of them together. The result? It's halfway through the season and the Dawgs have yet to put a single opponent away, leaving talented freshman deprived of any significant live action.
I am a very large proponent of the philosophy "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." If the run game is working, like it was yesterday, keeping pounding the ball on the ground. But at some point, you have to allow your inexperienced quarterback a chance to get into a rhythm. That way, if you have to rely on that part of your offense, he's prepared to do so. While Eason threw 13 passes in the first half, many of them came at inopportune times/predictable passing situations: after a penalty, on a 3rd and long after the run game gets stopped. First down, second and short, right off of a turnover, these are the times that Jim Chaney needs to allow Jacob Eason to settle down and work the passing game into the fold.
The words "game manager" make offense lovers cringe to their core, but that's exactly what Jacob Eason needs to do for Georgia to be successful this season. He has the ability to throw the ball 50 times as we've seen, but it's good to see that he's comfortable allowing others to carry the team when necessary. He's going to take some lumps moving forward, as will Georgia, but this is a team and a player headed in the right direction.