Kirby’s dilemma

Jason Butt summarizes it nicely:

Going with Lambert against North Carolina would make plenty of sense. Tasked to stay within the game plan, Lambert will get Georgia’s offense into the right plays the vast majority of the time. He brings 28 games of experience — 16 at Virginia and 12 at Georgia — and is the least prone to make a devastating mistake on the field.

But Lambert had three games in 2015 where he didn’t throw for 100 yards. He threw for more than 200 yards only three times. The fact that he won 10 games a year ago and isn’t getting all of the first-team reps says a lot. But he is probably the safest option of the three as he only had two interceptions last season.

Going with Ramsey against North Carolina would also make plenty of sense. You can argue that it’s Ramsey’s time to get a shot and that he has had a good enough preseason to deserve the chance of leading Georgia’s offense. He has similar arm strength to Eason and can make every throw on the field with great velocity.

But Ramsey has been prone to mistakes in practice and in game situations, highlighted by a pick-six to Alabama’s Eddie Jackson last season. The worry of making a game-changing mistake is something Georgia’s coaches have to consider.

Going with Eason makes sense only if he is, without a doubt, the best quarterback on the roster entering the North Carolina game. Everyone knows he has the most potential. But Georgia doesn’t open against an inferior opponent in which all three quarterbacks could get equal playing time without worry of a loss.

Or, to put it more succinctly, when you’ve got three quarterbacks, you don’t have any.  I don’t envy what Smart and Chaney are going through right now.  Then again, I’m not being paid the big bucks to make the call.

62 Comments

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62 responses to “Kirby’s dilemma

  1. I think Kirby is now finding out that being a head coach is hard especially when the main question is about the side of the ball where you don’t have much experience. No amount of attention to detail or learning at the feet of the master prepares you to make a decision like this. Eventually, you have to trust your gut, make the decision and move ahead.

    • Puffdawg

      Probably helps to have Chaney there with him. He’s been around a few QBs in his career.

      • Agree, but this decision is Kirby’s alone. I’m just ready to see that mean machine of red & black emerge from the tunnel of the Georgia Dome in 10 days.

        • It is not Kirby’s decision alone – that is why he hired Chaney. Chaney has a good track record with QB’s. I hope he works his magic this year.

          • Chaney is going to advise and make a recommendation to him, but Kirby owns the decision. Just like a CEO hires a CFO to advise him/her on financial matters, but the big decision belongs to the CEO.

  2. Beating North Carolina is only good for aesthetics. Beating Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Florida will make or break the season, regardless of the outcome against UNC. Start the QB in game 1 that gives you the best chance to win those three games. If you think that guy is Eason, start him right away. Let him get UNC, Nicholls St, at Missouri under his belt before the trip to Oxford.

    • The Truth

      Beating Ole Miss is only good for aesthetics — if that’s our only SEC loss. If it is, we’re the East champs. If your goal is the playoffs, then losing to UNC and Ole Miss probably does us in.

  3. The other Doug

    Kirby seems to have a conservative approach and values ball security and leadership over big plays. I can’t see anyone but Lambert getting the start against UNC. Sure, Eason will get a lot of snaps too, but he will lean on Lambert’s experience in the opener.

    • 92 grad

      Problem is, we can argue that what trey says above is actually more conservative than your notion. Focus on conference games first.

      • DawgPhan

        You could argue it, you would be wrong, but you could argue it.

        • Daniel Simpson Day

          Correct. The coaches have the “want to win every game” mentality – not the “play for the future” mentality. I can’t see how starting Eason is much different than starting Bauta in Jax last season. He’ll get in but he’s never seen a defense like he’ll see in the dome. Patience…

        • Otto

          I actually agree with him this time. Smart comes from a background who did not start true Freshman QBs, and starting a true Freshman QB can get a QB into bad habits that are harder to breaker later on. Starting Eason early would be rolling the dice on his development.

      • The other Doug

        If he is focused on SEC play, then he will bring Eason along slowly and have him ready for the 4th game. He won’t throw him out there in the first game and risk him losing confidence.

        Every way you look at it Smart will lean on Lambert’s experience early in the season as he brings Eason’s experience up to a level that he can be successful.

        • Otto

          Everyone is discounting Ramsey and we don’t know what he has a done in practice. Ramsey’s INTs were often reading the defense especially in situations where the WR had the option to run a more shallow or deeper route. The INTs were not forcing the ball to a covered WR or missed targets. So all INTs are not equal in QB development. Some reports have Ramsey giving up his college party kid ways and spending more time in the film room, (the complaint from this time last year).

          I have not been to practice but that could get Ramsey the start, also as stated in the article Ramsey has the arm to make all the throws. Lambert on the other hand needs confidence to perform under pressure, he doesn’t throw INTs (even if he was very lucky on that) but he also doesn’t hit his targets, 3rd down conversion would also slide, UT last year. A QB does more than throw the ball, a good one gets his play maker in position to make plays, again listen to a Saban press conference. Ramsey hitting the film room maybe the easier of the 2 to fix. I am as eager as anyone to see what Smart and company goes with and we have less info than prior years.

    • “Kirby … values ball security and leadership over big plays.”

      If you have a road-grading offensive line for a big-time running game and a defense and special teams that can win field position, you can afford to play that way. In other words, “do no harm.” If the line isn’t better than it was last year, we’re going to need someone who is willing to take intelligent risks and have the physical skills to deliver to take pressure off the running game. I’m starting to worry that QB hasn’t developed yet.

      • DawgPhan

        I am going to go out on a limb and say that damn near every coach values ball security and leadership over big plays.

        There arent a lot of just let it rip coaches who last for any amount of time, especially in the SEC. Hell there arent a lot of anything that last a long time with that attitude.

        And just because you rephrased it as “take intelligent risks” doesn’t change the meaning. take intelligent risks is another way of saying values ball security.

        And you can have big plays and still value ball security. Getting people in the right spots creates big plays, jamming the ball in between 3 defenders creates big plays sometimes, interceptions most of the time.

        • I agree DP. The problem is I don’t think we have a guy ready who can do both. Ramsey seems to have a problem throwing into closed windows. Lambert seemed to be hesitant to let it rip even when the play was there last year. Eason is a freshman who will be playing for the first time against players of equal skill against defenses he has likely never seen before.

          I don’t want a turnover machine, but if you can’t throw for 3,000+ in today’s game, you don’t win unless you can win field position with defense, special teams, and turnover margin. The fact that we didn’t even throw for 2,500 yards last year was embarrassing.

        • Juan

          …and holding the ball too long, taking an unnecessary sack or throwing it away when a receiver is open limits ball control AND big plays.

          • DawgPhan

            But you still have the ball and the opportunity for a big play.

            Throw the pick and you have removed all chances for a big play.

            It’s like some of you have never watched UGA play football.

            High five to the punter were some of David Greene’s best plays.

  4. Beating UNC is more than aesthetics as far as I’m concerned. I want to win them all, conference and non-conference.

    • DawgPhan

      Smart needs to close on a top 5 class this year to keep things going. That starts in the dome. How are you going to close on the best recruits when you get beat by an ACC team on your “home” field?

      • Playing Eason is no more a certain loss than playing Lambert. You act like Lambert was all-world last year. Outside of the miracle against South Carolina and good games against UL-Monroe and Southern, he was not even serviceable.

        Lambert’s stats the rest of the year (9 games):

        121 of 209 for 1,342 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT. He completed less than 50% of his passes three times and hit 50% on the nose once. There is a reason Richt, who has been the opposite of Spurrier when it comes to QB loyalty, decided to start Bauta in Jax. The QB play was bad last year.

        And, I’m not saying throw the UNC game. I’m saying a 10-2 record and a trip to the dome in December will be a better season than a 8-4 record and a dome win in September.

        • DawgPhan

          CPA reports that 10-2 is better than 8-4.

          No shit.

        • Cojones

          If you take the ‘Bama and Tenn games out, then what do you have? That’s not as laughable as cherry-picking the worst part of his record and if you did it with other SEC QBs last year, you would find he is better than middlin’. Last year’s stats don’t say crap about this year nor does it take into consideration that his brain game is several spots above most QBs in CB. You had better bet on Kirby starting the guy we value most for the NC game since it’s the introductory game of his UGA career.

          Some of you get so caught up in wallowing in picking bad stats as if they mean something to the coaches that it affects your football judgement. Kirby is going to start the fellow with experience and brains who gives him the best chance to inhale and make good decisions during the game as to when to insert players as needed for the changing game situation in front of him. And remember, if you bring your own poor assessment of what the players have in their guts and “Boo” players who carry our flag, you are booing the coaches’ decisions and the rest of the team it takes to win the game.

          It’s time for you Dawg fans to get your cap on straight for this season. It’s too late to rest your cheering status on any decision made by the coaches, but it ain’t too late to begin cheering your lusty guts out for this Dawg team beginning now. We have Hosses who can change every game we play all by themselves and they are finishing their “git ready” this week. Many of us are excited about what will be and may the hand-wringin’ begin for others.

          • Otto

            I think we’ll all be pulling for our Dawgs come GameDay. However, this is a little over a week before the game and this is what we do. Having family ties to other SEC program UGA has the best blogs on the interwebs. I think we have wide spread speculation on what they’ll do with little info, and which only feeds fans theorizing what they would do.

            I have more faith in Smart, Chaney etc to make the best choice and adapt the game plan to the talent they have than I have in a long time. Lambert does have a wide standard deviation between his best and worst games, setting records to less than 50% completion percentage. It is a new staff and I believe every position is open to competition.

            We’re talking QBs but we don’t even know what percentage of plays to expect from shotgun or under center. Further I’m happy about that, UGA needs every advantage they can get first game out with a new staff, against top 25 competition.

          • Got Cowdog

            Hell’s to the yeah Huevos! Who cares who plays, lets play!

        • Olddawg 55

          And yet, there they were….winners in ten of their games!!??

        • Eldawg

          Richt started and stuck with Bauta because he knew he was getting fired. It was his way of giving McGarity and Georgia fans the finger.

  5. Lambert looks like the safe bet, but if Eason is serviceable enough then he may be the right choice.

  6. Normaltown Mike

    “Then again, I’m not being paid the big bucks”

    says the guy with the new Porsche!

  7. Starbreaker

    I would be pretty shocked if Eason starts the opener. Chaney’s offense allows for so much short-stuff and we have the guys to do damage/move the ball in such cases that Lambert is the easy option here. I do, however, see Eason getting as much playing time as he earns during the game. I think first two possessions are Lambert’s then, depending on how the game is going, you will see Eason and they will stretch him to see how he responds. No picks, stupid sacks or fumbles and he’ll get more time on the field. Where things get interesting is if we fall behind by multiple scores.

    • Juan

      “Where things get interesting is if we fall behind by multiple scores.”

      Which could easily happen. UNC has a lot of fire power and i’m not very confident in our defense. Some of that is the fact that Richt had trouble showing up with a gameplan for big games like this and i’m forever scarred. The other part is the youth on the D-Line. If we get behind, and we probably will, all this speculation goes out the window. We will not be able to pound Chubb against what should be a pissed off and improved rush defense when we are down 21-7 in the 2nd Q. Going to have to have a QB that is confident in his arm to make plays. We’re screwed if Lambert is the one out there trying to get us back in a game.

      • Everybody just take a deep breath and calm down a tiny bit. Lack of information to a fan base starving for answers is fueling all kinds of crazy speculation.
        Yes, I agree that the outcome of the UNC game is irrelevant with regard to our success or lack thereof in the SEC race.
        I know, I know, who wants to lose to any ACC school, especially one that has powder blue as a team color, am I right?
        Okay, I digress. (Just a little attempt at easing the tension…)
        I am one of those, referred to yesterday by Chip Towers, as one who is not a fan of Lambert. And I don’t care how many virtues Chip was trying to point to, Lambert is a stopgap at best. I don’t want a guy back there who plays it safe, plays not to lose.
        To hell with that!
        I want a guy who plays to WIN!
        I don’t want to hear about semantics, either.
        CKS needs to put a guy in there that can create big plays.
        SAFE ain’t gonna beat Tennessee, Ole Miss, or Florida.
        There is no guarantee that it will beat Missouri or Vandy either.
        Especially if Mr. Safe, experienced, game-manager plays against them like he did last year.
        Look, I have no problem letting Lambert start the first game. But, CKS needs to have a definite plan to get the freshman into the game early and often. Once Eason gets the butterflies under control and feels more comfortable in real game situations, and mentally adjusts to the speed of game, his talent and instincts will start to take over.
        The more he plays, the more he will learn and improve.
        Also, more playing time equals more opportunities to create big plays.
        Worst case scenario? Eason plays part-time half of the season, until taking over as the starter…and gains a ton of experience in the bargain.
        Win – Win in my book.
        Go Dawgs!

      • We are definitely going to fall behind, huh? Down two scores in the first half?
        Man-handled by a team that couldn’t beat an absolutely terrible South Carolina on a neutral field last year?
        A team that didn’t face FSU in the regular season or Clemson, until the ACCCG?
        Instead, they waltzed through a pathetically weak slate of opponents on their schedule to finish with 11 wins…and…ohh…I get it…
        We’re supposed to be respectful of a team that reeled off 10 straight wins?
        All of sudden, UNC has figured out how to stop the run. Man, I see your point. Wow, we must be in serious trouble, dude.
        Opinions are truly like, well..
        But predicting abject failure and a loss, as if we’re totally outclassed, inferior and helpless?
        Not cool, Bro!

  8. SouthernYank

    Lambert or Ramsey. Don’t throw Eason in there right away. That’s the smartest move. If they win with Lambert or Ramsey, then Eason can see some time and learn. And take over fulltime if need be.

    Of course, the one thing I keep thinking of, which almost certainly won’t happen, is what happens if it’s Ramsey and he plays great? Lambert starting and playing great is no issue for next year, as he’s gone. Not the case with Ramsey. Like I said, likely not going to happen, but Ramsey playing great this year and Eason wanting to start next year would make next year’s offseason/preseason probably more interesting than UGA fans would want.

    • I think that’s exactly why Ramsey seems to be the odd man out. Kirby must think that he wants Eason to start next year with Fromm on campus and, possibly, Lawrence as an ’18 signee.

  9. John Denver is full of shit...

    I think the question of QB 1 should be the least of our concerns.

    -While it may be a fun topic to discuss, the D line seems more critical to a win vs a loss.

  10. Everybody just take a deep breath and calm down a tiny bit. Lack of information to a fan base starving for answers is fueling all kinds of crazy speculation.
    Yes, I agree that the outcome of the UNC game is irrelevant with regard to our success or lack thereof in the SEC race.
    I know, I know, who wants to lose to any ACC school, especially one that has powder blue as a team color, am I right?
    Okay, I digress. (Just a little attempt at easing the tension…)
    I am one of those, referred to yesterday by Chip Towers, as one who is not a fan of Lambert. And I don’t care how many virtues Chip was trying to point to, Lambert is a stopgap at best. I don’t want a guy back there who plays it safe, plays not to lose.
    To hell with that!
    I want a guy who plays to WIN!
    I don’t want to hear about semantics, either.
    CKS needs to put a guy in there that can create big plays.
    SAFE ain’t gonna beat Tennessee, Ole Miss, or Florida.
    There is no guarantee that it will beat Missouri or Vandy either.
    Especially if Mr. Safe, experienced, game-manager plays against them like he did last year.
    Look, I have no problem letting Lambert start the first game. But, CKS needs to have a definite plan to get the freshman into the game early and often. Once Eason gets the butterflies under control and feels more comfortable in real game situations, and mentally adjusts to the speed of game, his talent and instincts will start to take over.
    The more he plays, the more he will learn and improve.
    Also, more playing time equals more opportunities to create big plays.
    Worst case scenario? Eason plays part-time half of the season, until taking over as the starter…and gains a ton of experience in the bargain.
    Win – Win in my book.
    Go Dawgs!

    • Cojones

      In your lexicon, “Safe” did beat 10 teams last year, but I don’t go along with your left-handed football thinking trying to justify your attitude about individual players. You should never forget that it takes a team to lose a game as well as win it.and your remonstrations to the contrary don’t cut any ice.

  11. 69Dawg

    Bet Mark is happy as a hog down in Miami, he has a proven QB so all this is just another relief from the Fire Richt crowd he has had to live with for the last several years. They love him down here and they don’t require that he win the ACC his first year. Kirby’s going to get a welcome to the HC job right out of the door. I’m just ready to get it on. Lord help us if the team gets a penalty for too many men on the field or wastes a timeout, the ship will really hit the sand. There’s a reason they pay SEC coaches the big bucks.

    • paul

      I think think the question for Richt is whether or not he can win over the “fire Al Golden” crowd. They didn’t like Golden from day one. Primarily for the same reasons the school hired him. He was a clean cut guy who did things by the book and insisted on the same from his players. There is still a large contingent in Miami that wants a return to the glory days of trash talking, intimidation and wearing camo onto the field. Richt ain’t that guy and never will be. I read an interview earlier this year where the “fire Al” fans were still debating whether or not they should start flying a “fire Mark Richt” banner over the stadium during the first game of the season. let’s hope they give Mark at least a little breathing room.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      U fans might be disappointed if they expect CMR’s offense to be more productive than Coley’s offense. It’ll be interesting as heck to watch what happens down there.

      • lakedawg

        Coley was the guy that called a HB pass in the rain rather than trusting his proven QB. Dude got fired for a reason.

  12. Will Trane

    I would rather see some video clips of the OC plus OL coaches schemes / plays while they were at Arkansas / Pitt.
    I would like to see how the QB was used.
    Frankly, I am tired of the general “BS” talk from writers about the situation.
    We are almost assured that two [in essence experienced] QBs can not separate themselves from a skilled frosh QB.
    Do trade the experience for those skill sets, ie, get the ball in the hands of W/O or deep receiver to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally. Impacts pace of game and the running game.
    From what I have seen of Eason, he can put the ball out there. Probably get the ball out of his hands quicker and on time. Do the other two safer QBs have that.
    When Eason is in, the plays will be signaled into him…how quickly that goes at the LOS and his execution on them is probably where he is at. If he checks out, that will still be somewhat set for him.
    Curious is how he is working with the receivers. I think they will have to throw the ball a little more in the UNC game than they want due to the RB position [health and experience]

    • Cojones

      So you don’t think the coaches should be cautious by not starting Eason? He has no downside in your vision? Bullshit. If he was as certain as you prospect, he would be the starter by now. Ranting on about his skills is an insult to the coaching staff and their decision-making.

      • Got Cowdog?

        Eason hasn’t taken an SEC hit yet. Start him, don’t start him, no matter.
        We will see what happens when he gets up. Then we will know.

  13. TMC DAWG

    What bothers me is all these posters saying it does not matter if we beat UNC. Bullshit! When you take the field in any sport the object is to win the game. All the training practice and sweat delivered n the pre season is meant for victory.

    • Normaltown Mike

      cue Robert Tepper!

    • By “all these posters,” I assume you mean me, since I’m the only one that can stomach the idea that winning the SEC (and a shot at the national title) should be the primary goal and not one meaningless non-conference game. If Ohio State had not won a national title despite losing a meaningless (yet, no less of a national showcase) game to Virginia Tech in 2014 (just two season ago…), then I might feel like the UNC game holds all the cards for the season. But, the playoff makes it no longer so. Win the conference and you have a really good shot at making the playoff.

      Again, I’m not suggesting they don’t play to win vs. UNC. I’m not suggesting the coaches hold back in this one to prep for future ones. I expect the coaches to formulate a game plan to win. I hope they do so, and I will be rooting for them to do so no matter who the QB is. I just think Lambert starting the entirety of the season does not bode well for those national title aspirations. I think the “ease Eason in” crowd underestimates the importance of facing real-life defenses in game situations. Look at Stafford in 2006. He threw five inconsequential passes in the opener vs. Western Kentucky because we were all-in with Joe Tereshinski III, then he was pushed to the starter role because of injury. He struggled in the beginning, but he was on fire towards the end of the season. You can watch on the sideline, but you learn the most by actually doing it. Throw him to the wolves (it’s a Chizik-led defense that got shredded by Baylor’s backup offense, so…), and see what he’s got. I think the first three games are winnable even with a few QB mistakes, so let him get some experience under his belt before playing at Ole Miss when he’ll need to be nearly mistake-free.

      I know nothing. I don’t know what’s in the best interest of Eason or the team or anything. I’m okay with that. It’s just my opinion. I hope the coaches do know what’s best for the team in week 1, and I’m rooting for them to make the best decision they can. Fin.

  14. The Truth

    This is where Chaney is going to earn his salary. About 10 days before UNC (damn, we’re close), he will either tell Kirby Eason’s ready or he’s not. And that will be that. Chaney is a QB guru, Kirby is not.

  15. W Cobb Dawg

    Going with Lambert means Kirby is forced to use CMR’s ultra conservative offensive approach of last year. Does anyone forget how much of CMB’s offense we had to ditch to accommodate Lambert’s lack of skills? The low number of INTs was by design. We simply didn’t throw much, and when we did they were ultra safe passes. GL has no long passing game and his intermediate passing is undependable. GL’s strengths vs. Eason is his experience taking snaps from center and making reads. Lambert was awkward in the pocket much of the time last year, so I don’t automatically assume he’s any cooler under pressure than Eason.

    With Lambert, Chaney is going to be stuck in a position similar to Schotty last year. Much of the playbook will need to be abandoned. And what’s even worse, defenses will know GL’s limitations. We’re a low scoring offense with Lambert at the helm.

    I still say Eason is our best bet. He’s got the best arm and upside. Protect him as best we can while we spoon feed the playbook and he learns to read defenses. That’s what CMR should’ve done with Stafford – who ended up as the starter anyway. We’re going to have a run-heavy offense with Chubb & co no matter who the QB is. At least Eason has the arm to open up the passing game and make defenses pay for loading the box.

    • 69Dawg

      Far be it for me to come to the defense of Lambert but at least he has been on the same field as Alabama. He knows what it is like. Eason has never faced an SEC defense that he wasn’t wearing a black shirt. If you think for one minute Cheese Dick is not going to blitz a freshman with every possible blitz then think again. If Kirby starts Eason he has in effect conceded the game to UNC and that is just not fair to the players. They and not the fans deserve a chance to win and at this point Eason has no chance. Given the fact that last year he was capable of the long ball when he had time and a receiver that could get any separation. He had two receivers last year and the TE’s had to block to give him any chance with the sorry OL. By the way even in Bobo’s craziest games with Arron and Matt we only took long shots 3 or 4 times a game. I’ll take accuracy in the short to mid range throws to overthrows down field.

      • TerryGrad2016

        Don’t wanna sound like a jackass here, but why is starting Eason a certain loss in your eyes? As has been stated many times here before, UNC has a terrible run defense(or did at least), and we have Chubb. We do not have to throw the ball 40 times to win. Lambert is not a terrible option, but we know that he has not shown the ability to win shoot-outs. If 2015 South Carolina and Baylor without its top 2 QBs can find a way to beat UNC, why does Eason equal a loss? Plus, we saw a True freshman(Josh Rosen) carve up a P5 defense in game one last year(Virginia #79 Total defense compared to #95 UNC). I don’t know that Eason is better than Lambert, but after last year I know that Lambert is not the one to lead us to wins over quality opponents.

  16. fred russo

    For the first time in 15 years i have hope what ever Kirby does i am with him 100%!