UGA QBs, Columbia and Poor Play

ATHENS - Think back… way back - when was the last time a Georgia quarterback played well in Columbia?

I can’t remember either. 

That’s not an excuse for the performance Jacob Eason turned in on Sunday (5 for 17 for 29 yards with a TD and pick). But there has to be a baseline of understanding of several things when we start looking at players and their performances. 

The first understanding is that Eason, clearly, isn’t bothered by a lack of production if his team wins. There was no point on Saturday when he seemed upset he “wasn’t getting his”. For Eason, if this was only about him running up big numbers he made the wrong decision picking UGA and playing in this conference. If Eason’s career is about showing how many yards he can throw for; how many touchdowns he can chunk in a given season; or playing in a system where the quarterback is the only focal point - if that is what Eason’s career is about then obviously he's made the wrong choice. 

But that’s not what this is about. This is about Eason’s getting into and out of the huddle, or making at-line corrections for his teammates. Its about his functioning in multiple offensive sets. Its about hitting makable throws, and receivers catching them. Its about Eason playing winning football. 

I don’t think I need to point out that he’s playing winning football - with 29 yards passing or not. 


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Back to the point of the article - UGA quarterbacks simply don’t play well in Columbia. There’s a slew of reasons why that could be the case. Perhaps because this game is traditionally at the start of the season when offenses are not mature. It could be because Carolina hates the Dawgs more than they hate anyone else outside of Clemson, and they are motivated to play well. It could be because the Cocks, as poor as they have been over the decades, had always had at least a serviceable defense - sometimes it has been dominant. And, of course, it could be that more than any other school, the Chickens have more Georgians who were not recruited to play at Georgia, and they wound up playing for the Cocks in the parking lot capital of the world. They might play particularly well in this game because they feel like their home-state school made a mistake not recruiting them hard. 

Whatever the reason, its always an adventure in Columbia. Have a look at the stat lines of UGA QBs in Columbia since the turn of the century (if you easy turn ill perhaps avert your eyes). 

2000 - 10 for 24, 108 yards with 5 INTs

2002 - 11 for 22, 169 yards

2004 - 19 for 39, 213 yards with 2 TDs, INT

2006 - 10 for 22, 189 yards with 3 INTs

2008 - 15 for 25, 146 yards

2010 - 14 for 24, 192 yards

2012 - 11 for 31, 109 yards with an INT

2014 - 16 for 22, 191 yards with 2 TDs

2016 - 5 for 17, 29 yards with 1 TD, INT

That’s some pretty poor signal calling. Don’t think location has anything to do with it? Consider that Greyson Lambert… Greyson Lambert set an NCAA record on the Poultry a year ago for his quarterback play… in Athens. 

The key to quarterback play in Columbia is getting out alive. Aaron Murray never did. David Greene did twice, barely. Matthew Stafford did - in spite of his play in 2006 - twice. But the place is a snake pit for the Dawgs. Any win in that place is a good win. It nearly derailed the 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2012 seasons. 

When taken into perspective, Eason’s performance falls at the bottom end of the UGA QB spectrum in Columbia, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Quincy Carter’s performance in 2000. Its probably in the same ballpark as Murray in 2012 or Stafford in 2006. But the point is that its perhaps even more understandable because of all of the factors happening on Sunday. A delayed game; a pretty heavy wind on the field; those things probably led towards a higher likelihood of this sort of performance. Lest we forget he’s the only true freshman to start for the Dawgs in Columbia since forever. 

For the record, the next time I think Jacob Eason will complete an entire game and throw for 29 yards is never.

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