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Georgia has 2 quarterbacks, but against LSU, Georgia had 0 quarterbacks

Jake Fromm struggled, and Justin Fields’ playbook only had one play in it. And now Georgia’s played its way into an awkward QB situation.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Call it one of the few hazards of amazing recruiting: sometimes you end up with a pretty awkward situation in key spots on the two-deep.

In 2017, freshman quarterback Jake Fromm led Georgia to within a play or two of the national title, then watched as Bama replaced an experienced QB with a freshman. Fromm had replaced injured starting sophomore Jacob Eason early in the year, and the staff stuck with him when Eason got healthy.

Fromm was at the helm for six wins against teams with nine or more wins, and he completed 62 percent of his passes with a 160.1 passer rating that ranked eighth in the country. He was as battle tested as a sophomore-QB-to-be has ever been. It was easy to immediately see into the future: in 2018, he gets a little bit better and eases into the Heisman race. In 2019, he maybe wins it.

That future was at least a little bit murky, though, because first Fromm had to work on keeping his job — Justin Fields, the top QB prospect in the country, signed with Kirby Smart’s Dawgs in February.

For the most part this year, things had been operating smoothly in Athens.

During a 6-0 start, Fromm, the starter, completed 72 percent of his passes, with 12 touchdowns to two picks. Fields, the backup, saw some red zone and garbage time work, throwing for 200 yards and rushing for 139 yards in 16 non-sack carries.

There was still an elephant in the room — we knew exactly where the conversation would go if or when Fromm struggled, and there were a lot of good defenses left on the schedule — but the elephant was asleep, at least.

In Saturday’s 36-16 loss to LSU, that elephant woke up and got awfully loud.

Fromm started the game 11-for-27 for 123 yards, three sacks, and an interception as the Tigers jumped out to a 29-9 lead. Fans and media members alike kept openly speculating about when Fields would come into the game, and Fields did a few times ... but only to run the read option for a play here and there, then come back out.

Somehow, with two blue-chip quarterbacks, Georgia found itself without a quarterback for a large chunk of its time in Baton Rouge. Fromm was deep inside his own head, as if he was looking over his shoulder like everyone else, and the coaching staff evidently didn’t trust Fields to run more than one play.

UGA found itself with a QB controversy of sorts and somehow seemed completely unprepared for it.

Or maybe they were keeping Fields reined in in order to avoid a QB controversy? No idea. But whatever the situation was, it fell apart on the Dawgs on Saturday. Fromm did throw a touchdown pass to Riley Ridley in the fourth quarter but followed that with another pick, and the Tigers rolled.

If you’re a Georgia fan, this is a scary situation. You by all means control your own destiny — if the Dawgs win out, they are still in the College Football Playoff — but this was the first of four straight games against S&P+ top-25 teams (well, top-25 for now; Auburn will likely fall from those ranks soon), and they have already used their mulligan. If they slip up again, it will likely be against either Florida in Jacksonville or Kentucky in Lexington. A loss in either game could not only end UGA’s national title hopes but make someone else the new favorite in the SEC East. And now your QB situation is at least briefly tenuous.

There is reassurance, however, in history.

The last time Fromm had a game this bad was in the Dawgs’ 40-17 loss at Auburn last year, a game that snowballed on them just like this one did. They responded with a brilliant four-game run that took them to the national title game.

Of course, that Georgia team had veterans like Roquan Smith, Sony Michel, and Nick Chubb for Fromm to lean on. It also had no semblance of a QB controversy, in part because his coaches weren’t afraid to sit a sophomore incumbent in favor of a true freshman.

That last part isn’t quite as reassuring this time around.