If you don’t think there’s a sense of relief the coaches have about picking a starter, note that Richt drily managed to crack a couple of jokes in the first minute of yesterday’s presser announcing the call for Lambert. And that gets back to my first reaction to the decision – Richt and Schottenheimer, more than anything else, wanted to get a starter in place before the opening game. (A good move, in my humble opinion.)
That may be the big picture observation I have, but here are a few smaller ones.
- If picking Lambert is a surprise, more than anything that’s because, as I’ve said before, it cuts against the grain of how Georgia’s named starting quarterbacks under Richt’s tenure. But if, as I suspect, this was Schottenheimer’s call in the end, what’s not surprising is that he was given the choice to make it, as Richt has always given his coordinators pretty wide latitude. After all, this is part of what they’re paying the guy the big bucks for.
- Feel free to minimize Lambert’s statistical story from last season, if that makes you more comfortable. But, as Tyler highlights in this post, it’s a little concerning to see how anemic his passing game was. I’ll be the first to concede that some of it falls on the coaching and talent level at Virginia, both of which are short of what Lambert’s walked into in Athens. However, some of it falls on Lambert. How quickly old habits can be changed is something to keep an eye on.
- Ivan Maisel tries an analogy: “Major League Baseball is full pitchers who languished with one team before blossoming with a fresh start elsewhere. Georgia announced Monday that its starting quarterback for the opener is graduate transfer Greyson Lambert, the Virginia starter a year ago who lost that job in the Cavaliers’ spring practice. Dawgs coach Mark Richt’s endorsement of Lambert sounded tepid. “There may be others that get in the game,” Richt said, “but he’s the starter.” Maybe Lambert is college football’s R.A. Dickey, who bounced through five organizations in 16 seasons before he won the 2012 Cy Young Award with the Mets.” Maybe. Or maybe he’s not.
- That being said, if Lambert proves himself to be a functional SEC quarterback this season, as much good as that would say about his abilities and his coaching, it would probably say even more about the program he left, which, if you’ll recall, demoted him from the starting position there. David Wunderlich: “That the best guy for the job now is the guy who lost the Virginia quarterback battle is a little troubling, but at the same time, the UVa staff might all get fired while UGA’s present head coach has been cranking out good to great quarterbacks for 25 years.”
- I wonder how those of you who object to the graduate transfer rule are coping with this decision. From my selfish standpoint, it’s a perfect example of how the rule should work – a kid succeeds academically and is rewarded for his efforts with the choice of being able to leave a program that no longer wanted him for one that has a place for him. Your mileage may vary, of course.
- I also wonder if the message we’re missing here is that Richt is comfortable enough about another area of the team that he feels he can afford to place the offense in Lambert’s hands. And by that, I’m not referring to the running backs. I’m thinking about Jeremy Pruitt’s defense. From a game management standpoint, maybe we’re about to see the clock turned back to the 2002-4 era. (In which case, Marshall Morgan better be ready.)
- Richt is still hedging his bets on the call, I think. (“There may be other or others get in the game but right now the thing that I know is he’ll start the game,” Richt said.) Grayson may not have as much experience at Georgia as Bauta or Ramsey, but one area where he definitely has experience the other two don’t is having coaches looking over his shoulder. That was his story in Charlottesville all season. That’s not a snarky observation on my part; it may very well contribute to a mental makeup that Richt and Schottenheimer find appealing right now.
We’re all chanting the mantra that we trust the coaches to make the right call here, but that begs the question that is at the heart of the matter. Is the decision based on Lambert’s response to better coaching and surrounding conditions, or is he merely the best choice in a less than optimal setting? We’d all prefer for this decision to be about good coaching rather than bad options, but there’s simply no way to tell yet.