Yeah… so what about that? Well, first things first. Process gonna Process, and that means going with the guy you think will screw things up the least.
“They made it very difficult in the way they practiced and prepared and Greyson has done a good job leading it, communicating it, executing it and doing all those things. Jacob has shown great promise and has continued to improve. He’s done a lot of good things. We’re excited about both those guys.”
Fret if you will over last year’s memories, but I doubt this is a decision that was reached casually. Let’s not forget that Smart was on the other side game planning against Lambert last season. If he’s able to put that in the past, perhaps you should, too.
For all the qualms we have had, and still have (let’s be honest), about Lambert, remember he’s now convinced two different coaching staffs that he should be Georgia’s starting quarterback. Seth Emerson does a fair job of explaining what that means.
The decision to start Greyson Lambert may not excite fans. There may be a shrug in the Georgia Dome when he’s announced, and if and when Jacob Eason enters the game, there will be a resounding cheer.
But within the team, according to many who speak off the record – because talking about quarterbacks publicly is verboten – Lambert’s leadership and smarts have always been a source of respect. That’s why he’s going to start. Again.
Two separate sets of coaches, it should be pointed out, have now reached the same conclusion on Lambert. Last year, Mark Richt and Brian Schottenheimer made the surprising choice of Lambert over Brice Ramsey, then stuck with Lambert for all but one game – the ill-fated Faton Bauta decision against Florida.
Smart and Chaney then arrived, and at least when it came to Lambert and Ramsey, reached the same conclusion. Ramsey was the one eliminated when the competition was cut down to two, and Lambert was good enough that he’ll at least start the first game over Eason.
What do I think this call demonstrates? Quite a few things, actually.
- It’s not the biggest thing, but keep in mind the final decision came after some insistent whispers from supposed insiders who proclaimed Eason as the starter last week. That this turned out as it did tells me a lot about how much better Smart has been able to control the information flow out of Butts-Mehre than was the case with Richt. It’s also an indication that there are fewer people over there with axes to grind and a willingness to leak real news. Less dysfunction is always a good thing for Georgia football.
- Maybe, just maybe, we should give Kirby more credit here. Contrary to hiding things, if you follow along with how he handled the quarterbacks in August along with what he said he was doing and looking for, it’s been remarkably consistent all the way through the final decision.
- Would this have gone differently in the absence of a healthy Nick Chubb? I can’t say for sure, but let’s just say it wouldn’t have surprised me if it had.
- On the other hand, I doubt this says much about the offensive line either way. Asking a true freshman to keep his cool behind a line that can’t protect isn’t a practical strategy, but it’s not like Lambert excelled last season in the face of pressure in the pocket.
- Those of you who are complaining that Chaney and Smart are abandoning the deep passing game are thus missing a key point. If the line can’t block, neither Eason nor Lambert are going to have the time to make that work. If I had to summarize Lambert’s biggest flaw last season, it was one of trust, which is something that goes back to what I said about him during the 2015 preseason. The Virginia offense was a big mess, both in terms of scheme and personnel, and Lambert had developed several bad habits in response that would take time to coach out of him. In many respects, Schottenheimer wasn’t up to the task, but in fairness, Chubb’s injury and the poor o-line play didn’t do him any favors. There were occasions last year — go back and look at the Tennessee tape, for example — where everything lined up, giving Lambert the time and confidence to run through his mechanics properly and throw a beautiful deep ball. Can they get more of that from him this season?
- Note finally that Smart’s announcement isn’t as full-throated as it could have been. “We’re going to start the game with Greyson” isn’t a declaration that he’s the man for all of 2016, or even that he’ll finish the opener as the man behind center. Given how close the competition has been, that’s to be expected. But here’s the thing… Lambert’s had the experience of that kind of pressure before in his career, and it hasn’t phased him. (It hasn’t made him better, either, but that’s a different story.) Jacob Eason, though, is used to being the man. He’s never been placed in a situation where he’s made to feel that if he doesn’t please the coaches on every snap, he’ll be yanked. Does a true freshman playing in his first game need that kind of pressure on him? I’m guessing Smart thinks not.