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Jake Fromm, Georgia Beat Riley Neal, Vanderbilt Behind Strong Running Game

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2019

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 31: D'Andre Swift #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium on August 31, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Jake Fromm and the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs got their 2019 campaign off to a strong start with a 30-6 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee.

Fromm turned in a solid performance for the Bulldogs by throwing for 156 yards and one touchdown while leading his team to a conference victory on the road. D'Andre Swift contributed 147 yards on 16 carries.

Commodores quarterback Riley Neal completed 14 of 25 pass attempts for 85 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in a losing effort.

     

Jake Fromm's Heisman Campaign Depends on Big-Game Performances

Fromm will not be able to win the Heisman in Week 1, nor will he be able to do it against an inferior opponent in Vanderbilt—but that doesn't mean he can't use the game to get his campaign started.

He picked up right where he left off last season on Saturday against the Commodores. While taking less than four minutes to help the Bulldogs go 75 yards on the game's opening drive, he recorded his first touchdown pass of the season, a three-yarder to Demetris Robertson.

The junior completed seven of his first eight passes, piling up 97 yards and one score, while leading Georgia to an early 21-0 lead.

Unfortunately for the star signal-caller, there wasn't much need for him to air the ball out in the second half with the game well in hand. Instead, the Bulldogs turned to the ground game as they picked up yards in bunches all night.

Georgia ran the ball 40 times against Vanderbilt, asking Fromm to only throw the ball 23 times.

Fromm's Week 1 numbers won't match up with the likes of Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon's Justin Herbert and Ohio State's Justin Fields, among others. But he has never been one to put up video game-like numbers.

Here's a look at Fromm's numbers from his first two seasons:

  • Freshman season (2017): 62.2 percent, 2,615 yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions
  • Sophomore season (2018): 67.4 percent, 2,761 yards, 30 touchdowns, six interceptions

Although those numbers are more than respectable, they are not quite on the same level as recent Heisman winners. No quarterback has won the Heisman with fewer than 3,000 yards since Cam Newton in 2010. Only two (Johnny Manziel and Lamar Jackson) during that span have had 30 passing touchdowns or fewer—and both players used their legs to find the end zone an additional 21 times.

One thing that could help Fromm overcome relatively modest numbers, though, is Georgia's schedule. As of now, the Bulldogs are scheduled to face a pair of Top 10 teams (No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 8 Florida) as well as two more teams currently ranked in the Top 16 (No. 16 Auburn and No. 12 Texas A&M). And that doesn't include a potential showdown against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

Those spotlight games will make or break Fromm's Heisman chances. If he plays well while leading Georgia to the conference title game, he could potentially set up pivotal Heisman showdown with Tagovailoa in Atlanta.

     

D'Andre Swift Will Be SEC's X-Factor

While Fromm gets much of the attention at Georgia (and deservedly so), it's Swift who may wind up determining how far the Bulldogs go this season.

Swift took a big leap forward last season, running for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore...while battling groin and ankle injuries. He wreaked havoc in the 2018 SEC title game against the Crimson Tide, recording 75 rushing yards, 63 receiving yards and two total touchdowns.

He averaged 6.8 yards per carry through his first two years on campus, and he wasted little time in turning heads as a junior.

Swift managed 9.2 yards per carry against the Commodores on his way to a total of 147 yards for the night. It took him just 10 carries to reach the 100-yard mark.

Teresa Walker @TeresaMWalker

D'Andre Swift just topped 100 yards on his 10th carry. He's starting to run for bigger chunks for #UGA against #Vandy.

With Georgia seemingly being RB U these days, Swift has had to split the workload. He has registered double-digit carries just 10 times through his first 29 games. He entered 2019 averaging just 8.4 carries per game for his career.

He figures to get more carries this season as the No. 1 option, and with his explosiveness, he is a candidate to become just the second running back to take home the prestigious award since 2010.

The Bulldogs will still continue to rotate running backs in and out, with senior Brian Herrien (12 carries for 65 yards and one touchdown) and sophomore James Cook (two carries for 22 yards and one touchdown) proving to be productive as well.

A deep stable of running backs will be important throughout the regular season in order to keep players fresh. But if Georgia is going to dethrone Alabama in the SEC, Swift will have to play an important part in his team's success.

     

What's Next?

Both teams will be back in action Sept. 7. Georgia (1-0) will return to Athens to host Murray State, while Vanderbilt (0-1) will hit the road for a nonconference clash with Purdue.