Greyson Lambert has been named Georgia’s starting quarterback for the season opener.
No one knew how the quarterback competition would turn out; even Mark Richt admitted “I can’t tell you how many times we went back and forth on the thing.” But I was wrong in my impression that Georgia was shopping the graduate transfer market last spring primarily for depth. And as much as we’re told to discount Lambert’s past, that’s the narrative hanging over this quarterback decision since Lambert arrived: could a guy who lost his starting job elsewhere come in for little less than a month and compete against two upperclassmen who had the benefit of a complete offseason with the new offensive coordinator?
To his credit, Lambert did. He overcame a shaky start and improved enough to just edge out the rest of the field. Coach Richt has been clear that they’ll continue to evaluate the position, and we should expect to see multiple quarterbacks play in the opener even if there isn’t an official rotation.
- Relief? Yeah, I get it. Actually, I was surprised how much of a relief it was just to have the announcement done and over with. It’s not the end of the story, but the team can now approach things like a typical game week.
- Disappointment? I’m not especially disappointed with Lambert as the starter. That might be because I had no particular expectations for the next Aaron Murray to emerge from the group. Is there a twinge of disappointment that a different quarterback couldn’t stand out after several seasons with the program? Quite possibly. I’d feel the same way if it were Everett Golson who transferred in.
- Nonchalance? It’s all moot since the only job of Georgia’s quarterback will be to hand the ball to Chubb, right? I’m glad Schottenheimer touched on this last week. “There’s going to come a time where somebody’s going to slow down the run or certainly say we’re not going to let Nick Chubb beat us or even just to play in a game, whether it’s a third down or a redzone play where the quarterback’s going to have to make a big-time throw.” You only need to go back to the Florida disaster last season. Chubb still got his 150 yards, but Georgia’s difficulty moving the ball (until the outcome was in hand) was as big of a story as the defense’s meltdown. Georgia will face a compact field until they prove they can extend it with deep passes. They’ll have to convert third downs in order to sustain drives. They’ll probably have to play from behind at some point. All of that had to factor into the decision.
- Pass blocking becomes more of a concern. I have some confidence in the experienced line when it comes to clearing lanes for the backs, and Georgia’s tailbacks are good enough to create on their own even if run blocking breaks down. Lambert is the least mobile of the three quarterbacks, and a stationary guy with a penchant for turnovers needs as clean of a pocket as possible. I do want to see more consistency from the tackles, and a new center is an unknown.
- When you read Schottenheimer’s portrait of Lambert, he mentions or references intelligence at least three times. This stuff matters to the decision makers. The ability to know the playbook well enough to get the offense in a good play has been a hallmark of Mark Richt’s quarterbacks. Seeing Schottenheimer gush about those attributes in Lambert tells us quite a bit about why they chose someone who might not have the best arm or mobility. Now about execution…
Though Richt is responsible for the decision and ultimately for the offense, I agree with the analysis that we wouldn’t have had much of a competition without a new coordinator. (That’s not necessarily a good thing – there’s something to be said for a fresh look.) Schottenheimer has his quarterback now.