Sometime in the next two weeks UGA needs to name Jacob Eason the starting quarterback. Let him get the vast majority of the snaps. Let him make his mistakes - throw his interceptions - and work out what it feels like to start on the road. Doing so will not only give the Bulldogs their best chance to win any game, but also their best chance to get back to the Georgia Dome for what would be an extremely difficult game with Alabama for the SEC Championship (and, no, I’m giving no one else on that side of the world a shot at beating Alabama - not after this weekend).
After spring there wasn’t enough data to be sure that Eason should be the starter. After the first few weeks of fall camp, where Eason struggled at times, there wasn’t enough data to be sure that he should be the starter. And although there seemed to be enough data about a week ago to name Eason the starter - something happened on the way, and Greyson Lambert was under center for the first snap at the Dome.
But we have enough data now, and its clear that Lambert shouldn’t start over Eason again.
Here’s a fact: Lambert is 11-2 as a starting quarterback at UGA.
Here’s another fact: UGA is 11-2 with Lambert as the starting QB at UGA.
Those seem like the same thing, but they are quite different to be sure. Lambert started the game against North Carolina, and UGA won, but it didn’t win because of him. Although Lambert played fine on Saturday, he turned in another sub-100-yard-passing performance as a starter. That is amazingly poor production from that position over an extended period of time - four times as a starter in 13 games, Lambert has thrown for fewer than 100 yards. You can't win the SEC East when your quarterback throws for under 100 yards 31% of the time he starts.
UGA had 13 total offensive drives Saturday, two of which were kneel downs. Of the other 11 drives, Lambert had six drives and Eason five. UGA wound up with 219 yards and 14 points while Lambert was the QB. It had 273 yards and 17 points with Eason in. That’s 37 yards per drive with Lambert yielding 2.3 points per drive. Eason had 55 yards per drive yielding 3.4 points per game. Lest we forget Brendan Douglas fumbling at the UNC 12-yard line during one of Eason’s drives.
If that math holds (and it is all we have to go on right now) UGA would have scored 25.3 points on offense with Lambert playing the entire game, and 37.4 with Eason under center the entire time. The margin on a drive-to-drive basis doesn’t seem like that much, but over an extended period of time the margins really do add up - and usually in sports you win important games on the margins. Needless to say, 12 more points in a game would be a lot more cushion to work with.
It could be that the move to start Lambert this past game was more about Eason than anything else. Perhaps it was an attempt to try to slowly bring along a player with giant expectations from a long-suffering fan base.
Perhaps Eason "wasn't ready" - whatever that means. So you go with the safe playing... and depend that Lambert can get UGA where it needs to go in the huddle. But please quit saying that Lambert "is the type of QB Nick Saban has won with." That is pure bullshit.
Saban's QBs make plays - do you think Amari Cooper's game-winning 44-yard TD reception in the 2012 SEC Championship Game just wound up in his hands magically? No, AJ Mccarran thew it to him. He made a play. Jake Coker threw for 330 yards and 2 TDs in the National Title Game last year - that's not magic... its making plays. The Saban-QB-Kirby-Lambert silliness is a tired narrative for lazy members of the media to try and force-feed the public because they either think we are all dumb, or are too busy to look up and see what happens during games.
Why did UGA win on Saturday? Jacob Eason made a play - the 51-yard strike to Isaiah McKenzie that set up a FG for UGA to take the lead once and for all.
Smart and Chaney won't fall into the same trap as last season. They know that in order to win titles you can't play it safe - you must have a playmaker at QB.
They should start the younger player and ride or die with Eason. And they will… sooner than later.