So, what’s different about quarterback Jacob Eason as he prepares to enter his sophomore year?
According to the Washington native, quite a bit.
“It’s a whole new world,” said Eason.“I’ve been here for a year now. I’ve been here through last spring, through the season and I’ve got some good experience under my belt. So, this time, compared to last summer, is not much of a comparison.
"I feel like I know where I’m going with the ball, I can make checks … I feel a lot better.”
Georgia coaches and fans obviously hope that translates into better numbers and more victories for the Bulldogs come fall.
Eason is the first to admit his freshman season didn’t live up to the standards that he and others placed on the former five-star performer when he first arrived on campus.
Although Eason's statistics were not bad – 204-of-370 passing for 2,430 yards with 16 touchdowns and just eight interceptions – he conceded there was a lot he had to learn.
“A lot of that last year was the playbook, coming from high school, coming from a spread offense, playing under center, learning to take snaps under center, making reads against an SEC defense,” he said. “There was a lot I was having to learn.”
Teammates say they’ve noticed a difference in their quarterback – both on and off the field.
“I’d say he feels a lot more comfortable. His freshman year, I’d say he was a little antsy, nervous and all that,” wide receiver Terry Godwin said. “But I feel like he’s calmed down, he knows the playbook like the back of his hand. If he sees me do something wrong, or some of the other receivers, he can point things out. And that’s the type of quarterback you want.”
Senior wideout Javon Wims has also noticed a change.
“The training wheels are off,” Wims said. “They’re giving him the ability to make checks; they’re giving him the ability to be a competitor and a better second year quarterback.”
Head coach Kirby Smart said as much when he last met with reporters Tuesday afternoon.
“There are things that Jacob can handle now, so we’re able to do a few more things, like being able to open things up to run the ball as well as throw the ball,” Smart said. “We've been able to give him some options to check into and out of things. If a guy can get you into a certain play that helps, and he’s certainly more comfortable than he was at the end of the year last year.”
Eason said it’s that comfort, combined with the experience he received starting 12 of Georgia’s 13 games, that has enabled offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to place additional trust in him.
“It comes with experience, so they’re giving me a lot more control with that,” Eason said. “I’m a lot more comfortable than I would have been last year because last year I was trying to figure out which way to turn, get my handoffs right and all that. This year, there’s a lot more comfort, therefore, I’m doing a lot more things as the quarterback.”
That includes his work in the film room.
“I’ve become better at watching film, too, and that’s helped a lot,” Eason said. “I was still learning how to become a quarterback last year, and I still am. I have a long way to go. But there’s a comfort that comes along and gives you the confidence to make plays, make checks and all that stuff.”
Eason credits the arrival of freshman Jake Fromm for aiding his development.
“Yeah, Jake’s a great kid. He pushes me and I push him,” Eason said. “He’s a smart kid, he learns fast and he’s a baller. He’s not afraid of much and that’s a good thing for a quarterback. I’m excited for the next couple of years with him.”
He’s also excited about his own future.
With the lessons he says he’s learned, Eason is confident that greater glory awaits he and the entire Bulldog football team this fall.
“There’s a lot of things I could have improved on. People said I was a freshman, this and that. But, from a personal scale, I want to be the best I can be. I just want to learn from the mistakes I made,” Eason said. “There’s a lot of things I can do, a lot more people here that I can learn from.”