Kirby gets ready for the opener.

Although it sounds like he’s more worried about the media right now than North Carolina.

Smart suggested later when speaking to the Touchdown Club meeting that he may keep the starter under wraps in the lead up to the Sept. 3 opener against North Carolina the Georgia Dome in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.

“Here’s my question, just because we don’t announce one does that mean there’s not one?” said Smart, who prefaced his comments by saying that there was media in the audience, indicating he would tread carefully with what he said “My thing is I’m sitting here thinking what does North Carolina want to know? Why should I give them information? They’re not giving me information. I’m not going to give them information. That’s not in the protocol for us. We’ll do what we think is best to not only win this game but help the future of this program and also develop our players and out team for this year.”

Dude, no offense, but I don’t think Gene Chizik is that consumed with trying to figure out which of your three non-running quarterbacks winds up being anointed to run your pro-style offense.  (How many carries you intend to give Nick Chubb is an entirely different story.)  On the other hand, not letting the media in on what you’re thinking… well, Saban’s Coke bottle approves.

The funny thing is that Smart made other comments yesterday that would indicate he and Chaney have begun making some initial decisions about the quarterbacks.

… “I wish I knew the answer to that. We’ve watched a lot of video from the scrimmage and we’re trying to make a determination after the scrimmage. We need to start getting two guys ready. I think it’s hard once you start getting more than two quarterbacks ready. We’ve got some guys who have looked good during camp. But to answer your question, I don’t know the answer to that.”

And so it went. To his credit, Smart had given fair warning. “Since there’s media in the audience tonight, y’all will be getting their treatment,” he said.

But actually, the admission that they’ll be paring the quarterback race down from three to two was somewhat of a revelation, though Smart had hinted often that would likely be the case. He said he and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney met all day Monday about the quarterbacks and other personnel matters.

Based on other comments throughout the night and in a radio interview conducted shortly before his speech, it seems likely those final two will be fifth-year senior Greyson Lambert and true freshman Jacob Eason. Late during his half-hour-plus remarks, Smart included Eason in his breakdown of freshmen or first-year players who are currently in the two-deep. And beforehand he told David Johnston of Athens radio station WRFC-AM 960 The Ref that Lambert’s experience is “very valuable at that position to help in these games,” referring specifically the Sept. 3 nationally-televised matchup against North Carolina.

Actually, there is a non-flippant, very fair point to be made in Kirby’s favor.  In fact, he made it.

“We’ve watched a lot of the tape and we’re trying to get things where we can get the reps more focused,” Smart said on the radio. “Jim (Chaney) and I talked a long time today about it and we’ll continue to do that tomorrow. We’re going to visit with the quarterbacks and let them know how we plan to practice going forward. I reserve the right to kind of talk to them first before we kind of talk about anything publicly.”

As he should.  In any event, it sounds like changes are coming this week.

Smart said “we’re going to start getting more quality reps for guys and getting the right ones. It’s just a matter of how much we do. It won’t be one-third, one-third, one third anymore.”

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Here’s the link to Kirby’s radio interview.

74 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

74 responses to “Kirby gets ready for the opener.

  1. sUGArdaddy

    This is all incredibly fine with me. Richt moved much more in this direction later in his tenure. The press are not your allies. They are hungry for nuggets of info that would help them get a leg up on another media outlet to be ‘first’ or ‘most in depth’. They want readership. That’s really it.

    At some point (probably the internet’s rise) we came to believe that we should have total access to sports team’s tactics and strategies. It makes no sense. I wouldn’t share anything. I’d keep my coaches off limits (because I want them watching film after practice, meeting with players and not doing 30 min of interviews). 30 minutes a week in a 12-week season is 6 hours of film study given up. The game is won in the film room from a tactical stand point. Same with players. I want them getting treatment, refueling, studying, watching film and resting.

    Perhaps Chiz has a different plan for a veteran or a freshman. In any event, we don’t want them to know what to expect. Two years ago I attended practice and saw Todd was returning kickoffs. Do you think Clemson would have worked all camp on squib and pooch kicks had they known that?

    I love the secrecy. Kirby’s job is to win games. He’s judged solely on that and player behavior/academics. So focus on those 3 things.

    As for the QBs. It will be interesting to see if they tell us which two, and I wonder if there will be a surprise? I know one thing, I can’t wait for an August when we know who our QB is.

    • Perhaps Chiz has a different plan for a veteran or a freshman.

      If Chizik’s game plan doesn’t start and stay with stopping the run, he’s committing DC malpractice. He’s going to bring the safeties up in run support and take his chances with whomever Georgia puts out there as QB.

      • sUGArdaddy

        You’re right, as it’s not Shockley/Greene. But, there’s just now reason to show anything. I’d be coy about everything. The first game is the only game you have this opportunity since there’s not film.

        As for the cheering/booing, the fans there will see warm-ups, that that will pretty much tell the story. Though our fans aren’t always the best, the excitement of chubb, the start of the season, the big game…I think that will over shadow it all. I think fans that have bought tickets ‘sort of’ have an idea bout the dangers of the true freshman.

        Now, the kicker is the first 3rd and 8 ball that’s in the turf to a wide open WR or the patented Lambert check down. I have no idea the right decision to make. It was clear cut in ’06. God bless JTIII, but that was not a UGA QB. When #7 trotted on the field, you could just see it. Lambert and Ramsey both have the look and some potential.

      • Lambert or Eason won’t change whether he plans to stick with basic defensive pressure or blitz on 3rd downs, etc?

      • Nsbdawg

        I think you’re missing the elephant in the room. IF it were Lambert and we announced that, cheese could study hours of film for his tendencies and devote hours of practice to that end. IF it’s Eason, he could watch some tape from HS-maybe-and have some understanding of his tendencies and devote practice time to that. Announcing neither means he needs to do BOTH and devote valuable practice time to BOTH because even though we’re pro-style schematically either way every single quarterback plays the game different. In the game of inches where small details matter–which is something that got away from Richt–I think this is smart no pun intended. Remember when teams used to grow about having to prepare for D.J. and David within the same week? Same concept to me.

        • The tendencies are going to be Chaney’s. And Chizik faced off against him last season.

        • Starbreaker

          Exactly…you have limited practice time between now and game 1, so why make it easier than you have to? It’s not like it requires any major effort on Kirby’s part to simply not state who’s starting, so from a cost-benefit perspective it’s a no brainer. I don’t see why this is such a big deal. From a fan perspective, it’s maybe annoying having to wait, but I would rather have the coach exercising every possible avenue to achieve an advantage than try to placate us.

        • The other Doug

          I wonder if Chaney could incorporate some spread stuff similar to what Eason did in HS. That would explain the need for more reps with the starters.

          Or I could be grasping. lol. I’m ready for kick off.

          • With regard to reps, not so much spread stuff — Georgia will run a lot of one-back sets no matter who the QB is — as making sure Eason gets plenty of time under center. That’s where the other two have a huge edge in experience.

            • doofusdawg

              Exactly. Getting the ball from under center into Chubb’s hands without error is job one. This is why Eason will get the practice reps and Lambert will get the start. Surviving September begins in the dome… and Kirby does not want to give it away.

              Eason probably gets meaningful first half snaps and hopefully gets the start in week two. I would expect Sony to get some carries in week two in preparation for going to Oxford.

              If Lambert screws up then Brice could be right back in the mix… hopefully backing up Eason.

      • Dave

        On 1st and 10, yes. But, on possible or obvious passing downs, you figure he might be more apt to put pressure on the freshman, counting on him to not react quickly enough or properly to his hot routes, check-downs, etc., whereas he might take away the short stuff w/ Lambert and force him to beat them on deep outs. Not that Lambert excelled in either of those situations last year, but still. Irregardless (sic), I refuse to believe, if Kirby stated that Eason was to be the starter, and then we trotted out Lambert (or vice-versa) that Chizik would be like, “Holy Hell! What do we do now?!” But, to Kirby’s point, why give them anything, no matter how small?

      • And we will carve ’em up like a Thanksgiving turkey , even if we have to use the TE’s, RB’s, hot WR routes to do it.

    • Starbreaker

      Agree with above. As a competitor he is utilizing any possible avenue of advantage (real or perceived) he can. We can all argue if it’s legit or not, but as a fan I’m happy to see that he is at least thinking this way. If uncertainty/misdirection/lack of knowledge results in some combination of wasted practice time or scheme variance that results in even ONE PLAY that we would not have had otherwise, it’s considered a tactical “win.”

  2. 92 grad

    I agree but will say, at the highest level of scheme and strategy, it’s a game of inches and details. It is possible that cheeze would have more on his plate based on who the qb is. But still, it’s the same offense, nobody knows what Chaney has planned, but pro style run and pass is what it is.

  3. Derek

    I can tell you one reason he’d better tell us if it’s lambert. If dawg nation is all geared up to see 10 trot out there on the 3rd and instead it’s lambert, you’ll hear it: an audible collective sigh, at best. If it’s 10, the roof will come off. In short, if it’s lambert please warn us.

    • If Number 27 trots out there with the starters, it’ll be one very short-lived collective sigh.

      • Derek

        I think by now that we’re all expecting Nick to be out there. If anybody really thinks someone other that 27 will be out there on play 1, they aren’t paying attention. If they keep the qb call to themselves, all eyes will be on who trots out there last and there will be a reaction.

        • Calidawg

          Sure people expect 27 to be out there. But the biggest reaction of the game, and possibly the season, will be when Chubb totes the rock for the first time no question.

    • Chi-town Dawg

      Consider this your warning LOL. Seriously, I expect to see Lambert start the game with Eason working into the rotation. My bet is it’s only a matter of time before Eason takes over as the starter. I could be completely wrong, but that’s my bet.

      • dawgtired

        I’m thinking something similar. Not necessarily a rotation but maybe a couple of scripted series for Eason and hopefully some mop-up due to a large Dawg lead mid 4th qtr.

    • Uglydawg

      And that’s a very important suggestion, Derek. This team doesn’t need to hear boos before the first offensive snap. If Lambert is the starter and the crowd comes down on him,- as a human being, he will only feel resentment. These guys are all hugely competitive or they wouldn’t have ever made it to this level. We’ve all seen side-lined starters standing and watching their replacement making mistakes….that’s the kind of thing that builds rifts and unsavory factions between team mates and coaches….and fan bases. We need to all cheer and support whoever CKS trots out there to lead this offense.

      • Derek

        I agree. I’ll be there and wouldn’t boo if they sent a walk on out there. However, I’ve been a non-vocal minority when it comes to booing for decades. I don’t do it and I don’t think anybody should, but it happens. I wish my concern wasn’t even conceivable but it is. If we’re all waiting to see who the qb is, excitement or disappointment (or shock if it’s Brice) will be expressed. It’s inevitable.

        • Uglydawg

          What if they don’t even start a QB…they trot Sony out to run the Wild Dawg for the first series, the drama will be multiplied x 10. But it’s a pretty good idea, if I do say so myself. NC would probably be “???”

    • PTC DAWG

      A bit dramatic IMHO.

    • Debby Balcer

      I hope whoever it is we cheer loudly nothing like sucking the confidence out of you own QB by a lukewarm reception. If I hear anyone rationalize booing by saying they were booing the coaches I will be livid. Our team deserves our support 100% and so does our coach I may not have been in favor of letting Coach Richt go but I will cheer Kirby just as loudly.

  4. Chi-town Dawg

    Exactly Senator! Chubb’s return will overshadow the QB situation. I’m actually far more worried about how our defense holds up than our offense and who starts at QB. Lots of new faces in the front 7 and very little depth.

  5. ASEF

    If fans are booing Lambert before the Opening kickoff, then that’s going to impact more than Lambert’s ego. That sort of crap sticks to a fan base rep like glue. And it does affect recruiting

    • Derek

      And I’ll I’m saying is that they can put a cap on it with a simple warning. Tell us on Friday (at least) if it’s lambert and you eliminate (or greatly diminish) that very foreseeable risk. If it’s Eason, there’s no risk in hiding it. The fans will go nuts.

      • paul

        Certainly everything points to Lambert at this time. Disappointing though that may be to many, myself included, it appears that’s our reality. So let’s pray that Nick is ready. Though neither Sony nor Elijah will be available, hopefully someone else can help share the load. I may tear my hair out if I have to watch another three yard check down pass on third and eight. So just like we said last year, let’s play a little Dooley ball. At least for a while, it’s deja vu all over again.

        • Derek

          I’m not so sure about that “everything” part. We’ll see. Frankly I think if they’ve decided that it’s Lambert starting and getting all the meaningful snaps CKS should be trying to get us to rally around that guy. He has to be aware of the fan base’s dissatisfaction with the guy. Weren’t we told something about details? I’d think the general angst toward lambert is a detail worth addressing IF he’s the starter.

          • ASEF

            How does Kirby do that? Talk about awesome Lambert’s been in practice, setting fan expectations in an unreasonable place? Talk about how crappy the other two have been, making all 3 QBs lose confidence? Say, “Hey, starting Eason on national TV in his first college game is a recipe for disaster, and we will beat UNC with even marginal but steady QB play, so I’m going with Lambert right now?” Because that just fires up UNC and tells Lambert he’s a lame-duck.

            Or, he can just tell fans that experience matters as much as raw talent and that it’s an on-going evaluation – which lets Lambert start right now and Eason later when he can add experience to the raw talent. Which is exactly what Kirby’s doing.

            The signal is there. It’s up to the audience to decode the message.

            • Derek

              Exactly. Talk him up. Tell us that his teammates respond to him. Tell us that he’s much more comfortable than last year. Tell us that coming in from Virginia and being thrown out there was a bit much. He’s worked his ass off. he’s earned it. Hint that his issues may have been and OC problem. The fans would love that red meat.

              The chances of us having unrealistic expectations about Lambert are nil. The chances of us accepting CKS’ call that he is the best option in game 1 is high.

              The chances that no announcement means the fans will be hopeful its 10 and disappointed if its Lambert are high.

              • Chickamona

                Why does it matter? Lambert will be judged on his performance regardless of whether there is happy talk or not. In fact, happy talk and red meat probably make it worse. But regardless, once the games begin, folks will only care about did we win and how did he help.

                • Cosmic Dawg

                  Unfortunately, judging from last season that’s not all fans care about. Chip Towers has a pretty good piece today defending Lambert – I think it’s way overdue that Georgia fans show that kid bit more respect.

        • Uglydawg

          paul…where do you get that neither Sony nor Eliijay will be available? That hasn’t been determined, and I’m betting they both play. Georgia will come into this game with some stud running backs…believe it.

          • paul

            They may be and I certainly hope so. Some of the stuff I’ve read even this morning since I wrote that comment seems to indicate one or both may be available after all. I guess I should have said, IF neither Sony nor Elijah are available, hopefully someone else can help share the load.

      • PTC DAWG

        We fans have zero right to know.

        • Derek

          WTF do “rights” have to do with anything?

          If you think that they can say nothing and throw Lambert out there and there won’t be a negative response from the fans, I just think you’re wrong. If you think that such negativity is fine, I just think you’re wrong.

          If its Lambert tell us before KO and let the boo birds get it out of their system before the game and where it will do no harm. No good reason not to. Even if its “Lambert will get the first snap and after that we’ll see” that’s better than holding it back like its a surprise and doing the expected.

          BTW: if its so damn obvious its Lambert, as people around here seem to think, then what the fuck is the value of this game he’s playing exactly?

          • If its Lambert tell us before KO and let the boo birds get it out of their system before the game and where it will do no harm.

            How does that work, exactly? Are the only so many boos a Georgia fan has in his/her system?

            • Derek

              I guess all I can say is that if you know in advance that this is who you’ll see and you still boo, there’s no helping you. My guess is that there are some people who, with warning, will behave. You surprise them and it’ll be a knee “jerk” reaction. Like I said I won’t boo if lambert throws his first six passes to powder blue uniforms, but it ain’t me that I’m worried about.

              There is no guarantees about anything but if the fans have no idea who will be the starter and Lambert trots out there, I’ll be here telling you that “I told you so.” It’ll be the most embarrassed we’ve been as a fan base since those guys egged Murray and Co.’s house.

              • Cosmic Dawg

                I think I agree with this. CKS needs to do a little more PR work FOR his players in general, and Lambert in particular. I don’t mind him calling them out occasionally and pushing them, for sure, but coach is a little too cool at times.

          • PTC DAWG

            Consider you riled….

          • ASEF

            It’s the same game he saw Saban play at Alabama for years.

            Just talk about players competing and emphasize that you’re looking for leadership and consistency. Everyone’s in the mix until someone’s clearly and obviously out, at least in the eyes of their teammates. See how the players, especially the younger ones, respond to the pressures of that internal competition and connect with the locker room. Keep it mainly positive but keep the pressure on.

            Saban typically keeps that question mark hanging until the second or third game of the season. You can argue it bit him in the butt last year against Ole Miss. But you could also argue he came out of that game with a better Coker/team chemistry than he would have via the alternatives.

            I’m guessing we’ll see this competition remain one for awhile longer. Not saying I think that’s the best approach. I just think it’s Smart’s approach.

            And as an aside, I kind of grimace at the thought of coaches having to make tactical and strategic decisions influenced protecting players from boo-bird fans. Got to be honest, the simple idea of it sort of sucks.

            • Derek

              Can’t disagree. There are a lot of realities that I wish weren’t realities, but you can’t ignore them. You deal with them.

              Whatever dynamics have been at Bama none have involved an unpopular starter from last year vs. a consensus #1 guy as a true freshman.

              BTW: the scuttlebutt out of T-town is that Saban will start a true freshman in the opener vs. USC.

              • ASEF

                He might. But he will also have the other guys (in the minds of fans at least) “right there with him” if he needs to make a tactical adjustment for a half or a game or three. It’s a fine line to walk between getting the most out of your quarterback competition and crossing over into the “if you have two QBs, you have none” plus potential locker room issues.

                Finally, everyone on the team is watching that competition and trying to apply the lessons learned to their own situation.

                There’s just a heck of a lot going on in that dynamic.

                And yes, if Lambert being booed for even existing as a starter is a real possibility (shocks me to think so, but I’ll take your word for it), then that could push the entire team’s mindset in the wrong direction as well.

                So all in all, a complete minefield?

  6. I hope for our sake that Lambert has developed confidence under Chaney’s tutelage and that Eason doesn’t fall flat on his face while taking meaningful snaps. Apparently, Kirby thinks Lambert is the guy who gives us the best chance to win now. Let’s get to September 3 now and see how it works out.

    Regardless of who starts at QB, Cheat-zik has to stop the run first or his defense will have a long day in the Dome.

    IMHO, Eason will be the starter at homecoming for Vandy.

  7. ApalachDawg

    I hope we go play action pass with Chubb in backfield on the first play for a 50yd bomb…

    • The other Doug

      On the first play he hits the hole hard and gets over 5 yards. Chiz’s sphincter tightens and he fully commits the safety for 2nd down. 2nd down we go deep. Chiz craps his pants.

    • Derek

      Just like the Alabama game. Does lambert throw it short and outside again?

  8. Jared S.

    Man. We keep talking about the QBs and RBs…..

    But didn’t the Senator post at least one link to an article talking about Chaney loving his TEs? And, by gawd, he’s got some to work with. That was back in the Spring….but we haven’t really heard much about the TEs since. That makes me wonder if it’s more likely that we’ll see Lambert instead of Eason. If we’re stronger (or as strong) at TE than we are at WR…. who needs a “long arm”?

  9. Austen

    I’d think the difference between actually starting Eason or Lambert is substantial, while the difference between Ramsey or Eason would be negligible. If UNC knew Eason was starting, it’d gear up more for some deep passes and send more blitzes, etc, to make sure the parts of the game that come easiest to Eason/freshmen are the least available. Against Lambert, UNC can play more standard football and force UGA to play with consistency. I’m open to any of the 3 guys starting. I’m assuming Smart and Chaney will make the right choice for what they need to accomplish against UNC. If Chubb, Michel, and Holyfield are all healthy, it’d be shocking if UGA doesn’t have a nice day toting the rock anyhow.

    • Uglydawg

      Smart and Chaney have no say in this matter. It’s our decision.

    • Puffdawg

      I have to say, I think Lambert has the arm strength to chuck it deep. He hit Reggie Davis in the hands on a DEEP pass in Knoxville that SHOULD have tied the game if I recall. And that was sort of on the move as he had stepped into the pocket. Memory is a tad hazy but I recall that pass. It was deep and it was a beauty. He’s obviously got SOME ability. We put up some pretty outstanding numbers with Hutson Mason, and while the Greene offenses were not necessairly prolific, they are effective and efficient. What if our receivers do a better job of getting off jams and getting open this season? Maybe Lambert will do better. Outside of covered receivers, his biggest problem in my opinion was looking for the rush before he even got set in his drop. I don’t know if that can be fixed, but I like to think it can.

      I support Eason, but I support the other two guys as well. I just hope they all keep their head up and be ready when their number is called. We may wind up seeing all three at some point.

      • Cosmic Dawg

        +1

        You don’t get in the mix as a college quarterback at Georgia if you “can’t throw it more than 20 yards”. Yes, some have more strength, but they can all get it downfield.

        That knock on Mason was ridiculous.

  10. GL

    Don’t care about knowing. It sounds a little too much like last year, i.e. all 3 suck right now. Hope that’s not the case.

  11. AusDawg85

    Seems a change in HC doesn’t change the reality so many want to ignore…picking QB’s is hard.

    Does sound like our punting game has improved though.

  12. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    I’m gonna chime in and agree CKS should say nothing about who starts until he has to. I know it may not make that much difference to CheezDik, but it shows the right attitude IMO. And there’s this: if he wanted Eason to start or even play some, the media pressure on him for 10 days or so would be huge. Better to not have it by not naming anyone. I can wait.

  13. stoopnagle

    Every time I read “Chizik” I think of Chizik Nickles. http://cjonline.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/superphoto/photos/gene.jpg

  14. 81Dog

    Is there a big difference between what Kirby says about the QBs here and what everyone was laughing at Boom for saying about his QBs yesterday, except Boom was a little more terse? I don’t have a problem with either one of them refusing to open up his game plan, or his lineup, or his heart, to the media. Nick doesn’t have time for that shit, why should his protégés?

    • Is there a big difference between what Kirby says about the QBs here and what everyone was laughing at Boom for saying about his QBs yesterday, except Boom was a little more terse?

      Other than it being amusing that a South Carolina coach is fretting over giving Vanderbilt an advantage, no.

  15. Charles

    Their players and fans won’t know who to prepare to heckle.