“We’re going to start the game with Greyson.”

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.

51 Comments

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51 responses to ““We’re going to start the game with Greyson.”

  1. DawgPhan

    The only coaches he couldnt convince were at Virginia.

    • DawgPhan

      …and in the stands.

    • rchris

      In 2014, he did convince Mike London to start him. He started all of that season against a very strong schedule, losing all of his away games but winning 5 of 7 home games. The 2 games he lost at home were close, by 8 to UCLA, and by 1 to, of all people, North Carolina. 2 of the teams he beat were Louisville and Miami. At the end of the season the Cavs were rated 59th by the computers, the strongest 5-7 team in the land. (I know, it’s like being the tallest pygmy but it shows how strong the schedule they played was.) It wasn’t until 2015 spring practice that he lost his job at VA. That makes three sets of P5 coaches he convinced to let him start. Of course London sat him down in early 2015, and Richt sat him down against Florida. I suspect when all is said he will have had 3 sets of P5 coaches to sit him down.

  2. Jared S.

    I trust this is the right decision. The coaches know way more than I do about football in general and about these quarterbacks in particular. Lambert is better than average, and has proven that he can make good decisions and avoid the big costly INTs. I just wish he was better at extending drives. Even in his best moments last year I think he was best described as simply efficient. There were never any flashes of brilliance.

    At the end of the day, maybe he just hands off to Chubb better than Eason? =P

    • Regardless of your opinion of USCe’s defense, last year’s game in Athens was a flash of brilliance by Lambert. He wasn’t bailed out by receivers or anything like that. He stood tall in the pocket and delivered great throw after great throw.

      Hopefully, he can get that kind of protection where he can make teams pay for ganging up on the run.

      • Macallanlover

        Nail/head. So many overlook that performance completely when analyzing “why Lambert?”, it is clear he has a much higher ceiling than the haters give him credit for. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t temper that with the shortcomings we saw, but some of those were team related and may have improved.

        I give Kirby a lot of credit for not bowing to the pressure from the emotions of those who fall for any bright shiny object. We all know Eason will pass Lambert before he leaves UGA, but it seriously may not be this week, month, or possibly season. This decision gives both UGA, and Eason, the best possible opportunity to succeed. If he looks much better than Lambert on Saturday, Smart can quickly move Eason forward against Nichols State and get him a full game’s experience in the comfy confines of Sanford against a cupcake.

        • Cojones

          While agreeing with both of you, one source of apprehension by many fans goes unsaid. Since I’ve supported Greyson throughout the roller coaster ride of last year and through the summer and fall practice, I must be honest to call attention to the Greyson ducks that were intercepted and dropped by opponents that weighs on many minds that don’t want to appear picky-negative by writing here. Just letting you know that many of us see the same things, but put differences of importance to the same events. It is something to worry about that doesn’t appear in the stats and some protestations to Greyson have not fallen on deaf ears, but I see nothing to gain except worry lines by highlighting this unpublished stat.

          So, worry.

          • PTC DAWG

            Intercepted and dropped = fumble.

          • Dawgy1

            Yes there were dropped interceptions. Also to consider is there were passes dropped by Greyson’s own receivers. I can remember a couple of crucial ones that probably affected the games outcome?

          • nightnthebox

            INDEED… Was talking about the plethora of dropped interceptions with my brother yesterday.

            That 2 INT stat for Lambert is very misleading… his ducks were outnumbered by the BBs he broadcasted to a DB or LB waiting to jump the route.

            I recall screaming “DON’T THROW IT!!!” soooo many times last year.

            Hopefully we can pound the rock for 350 yds and let him stand tall.

          • Macallanlover

            Yes, that has been pointed out by many, a few hundred times. But the missing piece is that Lambert isn’t the only one to benefit from dropped passes by defenders. I would suspect that over a season anotherhalf dozen, or more, could be added to 98% of all QBs who throw 15 or more passes. So we can add those to their total INTs and we are back to a level playing field. I find most of those making those one-sided observations are most likely the anti-Lambert guys anyway trying to find a decent rebuttal. You can make cases for or against Lambert, no one is saying he is perfect, or ideal, but if you are going to reach this deep, at least tell the rest of the story guys. It happens to every QB throughout their career, I saw those too, but no more than other QBs I watched.

      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I am not selling my UGA stock or anything because of the GL start, but the truth about that SCe game is that defensive secondary played way too deep. They were determined to stop the run, but when loading the box they felt like they had to protect their corners so as to prevent a long run after a completion. UNC isn’t going to feel like they need to protect their corners, so I remain hopeful, but a little skeptical.

        I am hopeful because I believe the O-line will be better. I am thinking that because of Pittman they almost have to be, plus they have replaced losses with some nice pieces. I am also hopeful because the OC can design and call plays that GL can handle well, especially with the running game, and the TEs.

  3. The other Doug

    Great points. I’d add that Smart has repeatedly said that he wants to do everything he can to rake pressure off Eason, and this strategy fits in with staring Lambert and playing Eason often.

  4. Greg

    Nice synopsis and I agree for the most part. I have said all along that it was my belief that Lambert gives us the best chance to win (this early). As far as the offensive line and protection…..I feel that it was the receivers not getting open. Lambert had to hold the ball longer, that makes it tough on the OL. I also feel that the size of our receivers hurt us, it seemed like they were always getting jammed at the LOS….and not getting open when the were not. That changes this year, I feel that we see a new and improved Lambert……also think that our OL will surprise most this year, in a good way. Dawgs by 2011

    • Greg

      Dawgs by 20!! (not 2011)…..you need an edit feature on here… : > )

    • Cojones

      You forgot about our strengthened TEs along with one guy who promises YAC gains galore to unsuspecting D-backs. And they are tall and easy to hit ’cause they can find the open places. I expect Nauta to make his presence known in spades tonight and to free up Blaze for a great game.

      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        I hope Nauta makes his presence known tomorrow night when the game is played.😉

        • Cojones

          I woke up with Sat on the mind. Asked the wife what day it was, but obviously the brain didn’t believe her. Was going to try to make a funny about his relieving him socially but couldn’t make it sound kind.

  5. Starbreaker

    If the OL plays better, I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised with Lambert. It’s not like the kid was a one star recruit or something and, while he was a check-down master last year, I was impressed with his accuracy on deep throws. He had two big problems last year – 1) he had zero faith in the pass blocking of the OL (you could tell b/c of the happy feet pit-patting around under him) and 2) our WRs were not great at getting off of press-coverage. Ultimately, Eason WILL take over, but I support this decision and it’s the logical choice to open a game in such a hyped up environment. Also, it’s way easier emotionally/psychologically to plug Eason in for a series here or there in relief of Lambert than to say “we are starting the frosh” and then pulling the plug if he gets off to a rocky start.

    • Greg

      Can’t argue that….not sure if has healed or not, but hope to see them flex Woerner out. He would be a nightmare to cover. Also got a feeling that Holyfield is better than projected, I hope he gets some carries.

  6. Spike

    I bet Brice Ramsey is pissed.

  7. Gravidy

    Am I disappointed that Eason isn’t starting? Yes. Am I surprised? Not at all. Do I think the coaches are idiots for starting Lambert? Nope.

    Let’s all consider the good info from Bluto in this post, take a deep breath, and wait a little while before we all decide just how idiotic this makes Kirby Smart.

    • DawgByte

      Win or lose there’s nothing idiotic about starting Lambert. Nobody here has seen the QB’s practice or watched them play in fall camp scrimmages, so we cannot accurately judge this decision. Our desire to start Jacob Eason is based purely on emotion, however our coaches are basing their decision on stats and on field performance. That’s good enough for me.

      • Gravidy

        Whoa, hang on a minute. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you just issued a reasonable opinion on an SEC football blog. 🙂

    • Cojones

      And, if you guys are going to be in the stands, I’ll be waiting to hear lusty cheers for Greyson drown out the boo-birds tonight. Why would anyone not want to let him know he is being supported such that it may help his game?

  8. Congratulations, Mr. Lambert. You just showed you really can dot it. I hope you get a chance at the next level. GooooooooooooooDawgs, woof, woof.

  9. ASEF

    I think Lambert’s strength plays well into the sort of game plan Chaney has probably put together for UNC – make the midde of their defense pick defending Chubb and Co. or defending Nauta and Blazevich. I could see scenarios where Lambert targets a WR no more than 2 or 3 times.

  10. All I can say is that Lambert must be one hell of a practice QB. And to take issue with Seth, one of the two coaching staffs who picked him is currently employed elsewhere.

    I don’t hate Lambert. I just hate watching him bail out of the pocket anytime any defender so much as gives him a dirty look. Yeah the OL sucked last year but he gave up on way too many plays way too early. IMO at least.

  11. PTC DAWG

    I don’t watch all the practices….nobody else here does either.

    Beat UNC.

  12. Charles

    Eason is having to cope with adversity right now. Naming Lambert the start gets that first out of the way too, under much more forgiving circumstances than mid-game.

  13. Bulldog Joe

    Last year, the offense was more focused and made less mistakes with Greyson in the game.

    Leadership was never the issue with Greyson. Breakdown of mechanics under pressure WAS the issue.

    Pittman’s job is to address the pressure. Cheney’s job is to address the mechanics. Both of these guys have been at this for a long time. Kirby’s job is to provide unbiased direction on the best path to winning, rather than worrying about making everyone happy.

    I feel much better about this than I did last year. Go Dawgs.

  14. 3rdandGrantham

    Not sure why any of this is a big deal. The key word in all of this is “start”, as in when are going to start Lambert. That’s it. That tells me that Eason will certainly play, and if he performs well he will continue to play more and eventually start himself.

    I swear, some uga fans took the news that Lambert is starting to mean Kirby said something like: “Lambert will take every damn snap this year while Eason sits on the bench and sucks his thumb. We’ve already applied for a 6th year of eligibility for Lambert, and if Eason doesn’t like it, he can go back to Seattle and smoke weed with all those hippies up there. We don’t need him.”

    • DawgPhan

      Also tells me that if Lambert plays well Eason might sit on the bench the rest of the year sucking his thumb.

      • nightnthebox

        If Lambert plays well enough to convince a rational, non-blood/marriage related HC/OC to keep a kid as talented as Eason on the bench, then Lambert should be on the field.

  15. Good post. Concur. Especially liking that Smart handles the gossipers mo betta.