ATHENS — Jacob Eason’s debut was dazzling enough that at least one well-respected coach out there decided the freshman should be the starter.
The starting holder, that is.
Remember, the first time Eason walked out on the field last Saturday was to hold for a field goal. He pulled that off flawlessly too, according to Marc Nolan, a private kicking coach in the Atlanta area, who has coached Collin Barber and others through the years.
“Eason should absolutely be the holder,” Nolan said.
What can’t the guy do? Well, believe it or not, he still may not be Georgia’s actual starting quarterback.
Eason’s performance on G-Day did two things. It confirmed that the hype is real, and that it’s only a matter of time. But it also muddied the waters in a competition that had been trending heavily in the direction of Greyson Lambert, last year’s starter.
Kirby Smart and Jim Chaney won’t base their decision on just one scrimmage — Smart used that word several times to describe G-Day. And while Eason clearly had the best day, and Lambert the worst, it’s also true that Eason only went against the second-team defense, and Lambert against the first team.
Afterwards, Smart was dismissive of the idea that Eason had to be the starter based on what was seen. Near the end of his press conference, Smart was asked again about Eason, who was said to “throw BBs” — an interesting choice of words by that media member considering events earlier in the week. But whatever, Smart used it to once again throw caution on the “Eason must start” campaign.
“He throws BBs. Sometimes he throws them to our team, sometimes he throws them to the other team, but he throws BBs,” Smart said. “He can spin the ball. I’ve said that. I didn’t hide anything from y’all when I said the guy has an elite arm. He’s got great arm strength, he’s got great arm talent.
“He makes good decisions most of the time. And he’s got to communicate better. So again, I’m glad everybody got to come out and see Jacob Eason. I think the welcoming and the warming, everyone clapping, that’s all great.”
Then Smart pounded the podium a few times to make his last point.
“But the guy that starts the game against North Carolina will be the guy that gives us the best chance to win the game,” he said. “And if that’s Jacob Eason then it’ll be Jacob Eason. But it may not be. And our fan base – just like we said, come out and support us – they’re gonna support us whoever our quarterback is. That fourth quarterback did a pretty good job, didn’t he? Y’all gonna talk about him?”
Yes, walk-on Nick Robinson led a touchdown drive, going 5-for-7. But this competition is still about Georgia’s three scholarship quarterbacks, with Brice Ramsey also still a factor.
“We’ll make those decisions in ample time,” Smart said.
Ample time is open for interpretation. Smart said before G-Day the quarterback competition would likely go into August. Many outside the program will use G-Day to judge Eason as the clear winner. But Georgia’s coaches are either making Eason work hard for the job, or there really is more to grade it on than one scrimmage.
Who knows? Eason may not even end up being the holder.