Category Archives: Georgia Football

Looking back at Lambert

Those of you who would prefer to chalk up Lambert’s struggles in 2014 to a sieve-like offensive line and who think Lambert’s size means he can run a little probably ought to skip this piece from Seth Emerson.

For the rest of you, it’s more context for evaluating what to hope to see from him in red and black.

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GATA in the opener

Yes, I know Louisiana-Monroe has a well-deserved reputation for scaring SEC teams.  But let’s dial that back a little.  The last acclaimed win was against a John L. Smith-coached Arkansas team that was a mess.

UL-M is a decent defensive team, particularly by Sun Belt standards.  Offensively, though, when you combine starting a redshirt freshman quarterback with this

Louisiana-Monroe, which plays at Georgia Saturday, was one of the most feeble rushing teams in the nation last year, ranking 123rd of 125 FBS teams at 69.5 yards per game.

… it’s hard to see where points will be coming from.

Unless Georgia chooses to be a generous host, that is.  We’ll at least get a feel for the team’s mental preparation in that regard.  And here’s a benchmark by which to judge that.

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“We’ll start playing ball that way and see how it goes.”

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.

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The Georgia Way is alive and well.

As expected, the cost of the new IPF is projected to run about $30 million.

Also as expected, Greg McGarity wants you.  Er, your checkbook.

The board approved a cost of $30.2 million for the project, half drawn from the athletics department’s reserve fund, and the other half via fundraising…

The Board of Regents, which oversees all state universities, still must formally approve the project in a few weeks. But UGA can now start a full-fledged fundraising campaign now that the project has been formally green-lighted.

McGarity said there were already some “verbal pledges” for the project. Ideally the facility would be named for someone who provided a large donation.

“That’d be very nice,” McGarity said. “That is a priority.”

And if they can raise more than half on the side, that would be cool, too.

In fact, McGarity added, they would hope to raise even more than $15.1 million, as there are other facility projects for other sports the school hopes to build. Any extra money from the football facility fundraising could then be put toward those other projects.

Hopefully, whatever those “other projects” might be, they’ll have a longer shelf life than this one did.

The team’s current, smaller facility, which was built less than a decade ago, will be demolished to make room for the new facility.

Old IPF, we hardly knew ye.

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I don’t always take requests. But when I do…

So there I was last night, minding my own business, scouring the Internets for reactions to the Lambert news, when this popped up on Twitter:

David, since you asked…  Cue the tuneage.

And away we go.

That’s the point when I jumped into the conversation.

And got this in response.

How much of Lambert’s statistical shortcomings in 2014 fall on him and how much on his surrounding cast of coaches and teammates is the big question – one that we’ll start getting a handle on this Saturday.

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“But he got the nod.”

So, Dawgnation, your new starting quarterback is Greyson Lambert.

Georgia’s starting quarterback competition has a winner, and it’s an unexpected one: Greyson Lambert, the transfer from Virginia.

Lambert will start in Saturday’s season opener against Louisiana-Monroe, coach Mark Richt announced after Monday’s practice.

Brice Ramsey, who had been the presumed favorite since he finished last year as the No. 2 quarterback, will share second-team snaps with Faton Bauta this week in practice.

“There may be other or others who get in the game. But right now the thing that I know that he’ll start the game,” Richt said of Lambert. “Very, very close competition. Still being contested in my mind. But at this point we felt it would be wise to name a starter and get him ready to play in this ballgame. …  We’ll start playing ball that way and see how it goes.”

The quarterbacks were notified prior to Monday’s practice. Richt said he and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer were “pretty sure” on Saturday, then gave it a couple days before finalizing it.

Am I a little surprised?  Well, yeah.  A quarterback with less than a month in the program as the man?

Am I a little nervous?  Well, yeah.  I watched Lambert play a good bit last season.  And I definitely get where Mark Schlabach is coming from with this:

“Either Mark Richt knows something Mike London didn’t, or UGA might be in trouble at quarterback,” Schlabach said. “Lambert is a really bright kid and he’s UGA’s tallest QB in a while. But I can’t believe Ramsey didn’t win the job. Clearly, Richt & Schottenheimer went with the more experienced option.

“If he doesn’t make mistakes, UGA offense should be fine.”

That being said, when it comes to coaching quarterbacks, I don’t think it takes a big leap of faith to assume Richt knows more than London.  So there’s that.

What I do appreciate about the decision is that Richt and Schottenheimer knew they had to get to a point with a starter this week.  It’s time to get one kid focused on first team reps.  Taking a chance with Lambert beats continuing to equivocate.

But, man, this sure is an interesting decision.

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Convergence

The last minute tweaking in place, both ESPN’s FPI and Bill Connelly’s S&P+ projections slot the Dawgs fifth in the country, with ESPN showing Georgia as one of only four teams hitting double digits in wins before the postseason.

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