ATHENS – The disparity between the haves and have-nots in college football is far greater than in the NFL. It’s more like comparing China (Power 5 conference) and Macedonia (FCS) as economic powers.
It follows that the fact Georgia and Georgia Tech each are 2-0 at this point of the season really means nothing. Georgia has beaten Vanderbilt and Louisiana-Monroe, which according to one set of computer rankings are the Nos. 75 and 110 teams, respectively, in the country. Tech has beaten No. 147 Tulane and No. 197 Alcorn State. When Vanderbilt is the elite among four opponents, something is wrong.
But things get more serious this week.
Georgia plays South Carolina. Their opponent is a wounded bunch of roosters but they’ve nonetheless won four of the last five meetings. The Bulldogs are heavy favorites. But who walks into a sportsbook this week and says, “I’ll pass on Steve Spurrier plus 17 in Athens”?
Georgia Tech travels to Notre Dame, which is a top 10 team. But the Irish needed to rally to win at Virginia last week after losing its starting quarterback to a broken leg. This is called fortuitous timing.
We’ll soon find out if the Dogs or Jackets are serious conference and nationals contenders this season – and if you had to pick one team over the other right now, pick Tech.
Never mind that Georgia has a great tailback (Nick Chubb) and a better defense than Tech. The Jackets have something the Dogs don’t – a quality and dependable starting quarterback (Justin Thomas) who has the mind to get his team’s offense into the right play and the ability to make the play work.
It doesn’t matter that the two programs run different offenses. Success in any scheme starts and ends with the quarterback, and right now we only know that Thomas can make plays to win games. We don’t know that with Greyson Lambert, who has largely been protected with a running game and conservative play-calling, and we certainly don’t know it with back up Brice Ramsey, who has played only two offensive series.
Tech runs the option. Know what? Two games into the season, Tech also has the more efficient passing game. It’s obviously a small sampling size, but here are the numbers:
• Thomas: 10 for 13 (76.9 completion percentage), 151 yards (11.6 per attempt), 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions (250.6 college efficiency rating).
• Georgia’s Greyson Lambert: 19 for 33 (57.6), 257 yards (7.8 per attempt), 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions (143 rating).
If the Jackets win in South Bend, they will be 3-0 with only two other currently ranked opponents left on the schedule before the end-of-season meeting with Georgia: at No. 11 Clemson and home against No. 9 Florida State. The Dogs must play No. 2 Alabama, No. 22 Missouri Oct. 17 and No. 18 Auburn, in addition to three non-gimmes (South Carolina, at Tennessee, Florida), and then Tech.
Georgia coach Mark Richt is saying all the right things regarding his team’s passing game. He might even believe them. But it’s hard to believe he’s not concerned. Even some of his star players are. Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell let his frustrations show following last Saturday’s win at Vanderbilt, saying defenses are “stacking the box” against the run and adding: “I see myself as one of the better athletes, and I’m not being cocky. But any time I’m singled up and it’s man on man, let me do what I do best.”
Chubb was slightly more diplomatic Tuesday but he made the same point: “We’re going to have to start throwing the ball more. You have to throw the football to be a top 10 (team).”
Richt said nothing Tuesday to suggest he’s even considering a change. But the schedule presents an interesting scenario. If Lambert is effective against South Carolina, all is well. But if he struggles, the Southern game that follows would give Richt a chance to give more snaps to Ramsey or even Faton Bauta before making a determination for the Alabama game Oct. 3.
Richt said Lambert is “going to be fine. We’re going to be able to throw and catch well,” and he’s not rushing to make a change.
“I know he’s played a lot of college ball but he hasn’t played a lot for Georgia or in this system,” Richt said. “There’s a learning curve and things take time. Sometimes you’ve just got to show a little patience.”
The schedule has allowed Richt that luxury. But between Georgia and Tech, there’s only one team that should feel comfortable about its quarterback situation and it’s not the one in Athens.Recent ramblings MyAJC: An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons AJC: Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win Dawgnation: Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game Dawgnation: Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue AJC: Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain AJC: Poll: I say 9 wins for Falcons, national media mixed, what say you? MyAJC: Falcons’ late roster scramble not a good sign AJC: Fredi Gonzalez needs to make more of his losing hand Dawgnation: Lambert good but didn’t do enough to cement starting job Dawgnation: Lambert, lightning and the joy of Keith Marshall MyAJC: Kennesaw State’s little startup off to a dazzling start AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets roll, Spurrier escapes, Petrino goes down AJC: Falcons won Julio Jones trade but would like to forget 2012 draft Dawgnation: Greyson Lambert’s big test won’t come in opener, it will be later AJC: Hello, football: Thoughts on UGA, Tech, Kennesaw, both GSUs Dawgnation: It’s Lambert over Ramsey for now, but assume nothing for future at Georgia AJC: Falcons were never going to let Julio Jones get away MyAJC: Gomes provides some needed comic relief to Braves’ season MyAJC: Brian McCann makes his perfect return to Atlanta AJC: Ready to start picking? ‘Sack Schultz 2015’ now open for business Dawgnation: CFB Special: Mark Richt, empty nester, is seeking that winning feeling again Dawgnation: CFB Special: Your flawless game-by-game predictions for Georgia AJC: Arthur Blank says he’s backing away — this I’ve gotta see Dawgnation: Richt having fun with stonewalling but UGA’s QB debate a real problem MyAJC: Falcons have issues, so Matt Ryan can’t be one of them