Jamie Newman Hype Puzzling
Han Vance on Georgia football: And that’s the nicest way I can phrase it. Newman hype unwarranted was a harsher title I contemplated, when digging deeper into his numbers. But that’s just typical of a program with this much (wishful) coverage, I guess.
Newman went a pathetic 1-4 in his last five starts and threw a troubling 11 picks last season, while facing only one ranked team all year (a 52-3 loss to national runner-up Clemson). Through nine games he had the top receiver in the whole ACC last season, Sage Surratt – who recently opted out for 2020 and is a projected top 10 draft pick – then struggled mightily without Surratt in the lineup, due to an injury to the prolific playmaker.
And, the crowd went wild: Georgia fans are infamously a source of regional and national ridicule for the sheer levels of Pollyanna wishfulness and annual excuse-making which permeates the rabid, longest-suffering fanbase. This is expected absurdity in an undiluted form, in which every year Georgia is “looking good” and every day since 1981 the future feels brighter than the present.
Am I occasionally guilty of it myself? Of course, I’m a Georgia fan.
Outside of perhaps seeing some of Newman’s losing effort in a televised Pinstripe Bowl in the Bronx to a 7-6 Michigan State, Georgia fans to a man (okay, there may be one or two Deacon-Dawgs in our midst) did not see their newest anointed savior play last year.
While I’m the type of college football geek/wonk who hosted The Bowl Show (sample at www.SouthernSportsRoundup.com) for five years and watched at least part of every single bowl game last season, most in their entirety, that was my only actual exposure to him.
Mainstream media madness: Cox Media Group’s DawgNation recently ran an incomplete, inaccurate and super-slanted fluff piece comparing Newman to outgoing Jake Fromm, falsely calling Wake an 8-4 team (they went 8-5, factually) to Georgia’s 12-2 and not listing interceptions in the comparison at all. He threw double-digit picks, with several multi-pick games which cost his team wins. They faced: Utah St, Rice, UNC, Elon, Boston College, Louisville, FSU, NC State, while compiling a strong 7-1 start, remarkable mainly in its fluffiness and stat-feasting. Then, things fell all the way apart: VaTech (L), Clemson (L), Duke (W), Syracuse (L), Michigan St (L). Beating Duke in football isn’t so impressive.
While young Mr. Newman recently compared himself in an interview question to Cam Newton: won Heisman and Natty as a handsomely-paid-on-record collegian his lone year as starter after getting kicked off an on-record corrupt Florida team for stealing from a teammate, I’d like to look closer at the Fromm comparisons.
Georgia needed a new starting quarterback, after three-year starter and one-time SEC champion Jake Fromm bolted a weak passing offensive system for the NFL, a decision he probably regretted some after falling to Buffalo in the 5th round of the NFL draft, after being a five-star recruit (sources: Rivals and Scout). Expert Todd McShay had Jake going late first round entering his junior season. His lack of running speed and who-cares small hand size aside, Fromm’s stock fall resulted from the terrible, horrible, predictable play calling at UGA last season by Kirby Smart’s handpicked replacement for Jim Chaney, James Coley. Fromm could have called his own plays and done better. And, the receivers behind oft-injured Lawrence Cager were noted by coaches to be immature to just plain bad at catching footballs, running the right routes, blocking, even lining up properly. He still left the school – even still – as the UGA all-time leader in completion percentage. His worst year, though, for sure, considering 2017 he was one defensive bust away from a national championship and 2018 he lit it up.
Newman and Fromm each completed 61% in 2019. Both had over 2,800 and under 3,000 yards. Both had over seven and under eight yards per pass attempt (source: DawgNation). Newman ran more, but the threat of being able to run is an advantage not a disadvantage when a defense has to defend against your passing. On 3rd and long, after two predictable run calls to Swift when he wasn’t yet hurt, the whole world knew Fromm was passing, trying to find an open wideout to pass the ball to, that is. Once talented goofball George Pickens matured in the bowl game, Fromm lit it up again. That was a sUGAr Bowl.
The schedules: He faced a national championship contender in Notre Dame, likewise at-always-at Florida. An improving, talented Texas A&M in the driving rain. Auburn’s most talented defense ever on the road, before they beat Bama. A peaking, finally healthy LSU who won it all, without his best two weapons and with Pickens playing one half. A scrappy Baylor team second in the Big 12, with a depleted UGA roster.
Putting this kid in the same standing as Fromm (or Cam, please!) right now is premature at best to foolish at probably, y’all. Jake threw just 18 interceptions his whole career, thrust into the starting lineup as a true freshman due to injury. Recall: that was not Kirby’s call, y’all. He went with Eason (8-5 at UGA then 8-5 at Udub).
Newman was the best available graduate transfer, in a year there were no proven marquee (like: Kelly Bryant, Jalen Hurts) grad transfers. USC’s somehow-they-let-me-play-now but I’m not saying the how and why about my old school like Fields did transfer portal dude J.T. Daniels, who is a little nicked up now still, has a 50-50 chance to be the starter by the Florida game. Will the hype possibly help the kid, Newman that is?
Impossible, though he may be great.
The Houston transfer to Miami was way better in provable on-field results (50 touchdowns one year…like Fields) than either Georgia get. One of them will pan out, eventually, but it may be after a big loss or two, realistically.
Keep in mind: they have not even put on the pads yet and our 2nd, 3rd and 4th opponents are skilled: Auburn, Tennessee, Alabama…
*Art by: Christina Egede (Copenhagen), Jim Davis (mainland America), Andy Lee (Hawaii)