ATHENS — It was late in the first half when Greyson Lambert was told he was being benched.
“We’re going to go with Brice (Ramsey) here,” Lambert recalled being told.
And it was barely a quarter of football later that the coaches told Lambert he was being un-benched.
“They just said, ‘We’re gonna go with you here,’” Lambert said.
It was that kind of day for Georgia’s quarterback: The starter was pulled, the backup was actually worse, but when the starter went back in he still struggled.
Where does that leave Georgia heading into next week’s important game at Tennessee.
“I would say we will just have to re-evaluate everything. Quarterback play, everything,” Richt said. “So we’ll see where we land. Yeah the big thing was trying to find a change of momentum. It just didn’t happen.”
Lambert actually got off to a decent start (6-for-9, including a 36-yarder to Malcolm Mitchell) on Saturday, but was pulled after completing just 1 of 6 attempts, and as Georgia fell behind 24-3. Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer huddled on the sideline. Ramsey and his strong arm were put in the game.
“We were just trying to find some answers, trying to find some spark,” Richt said.
The wet conditions also played a role: Ramsey has been able to throw wet balls well.
“That was part of the thinking,” Richt said.
But Ramsey fared even worse. His first pass of the second half was picked off at midfield and returned for a touchdown, making it 31-3. He threw another interception a couple drives later, on a third-down heave inside the Alabama 10.
In Georgia’s last 14 games, dating back to the Missouri game, Georgia quarterbacks have thrown six interceptions. Four are by Ramsey, despite his not starting any of those games.
Ramsey finished 1-for-6, his only completion for 20 yards, and he was sacked twice.
Lambert was inserted back into the game, but couldn’t get anything going either. He completed just one-of-seven passes, and had his first interception of the season, coming with 58 seconds left. He also muffed a snap that was recovered by Alabama, then almost lost another one: As he squared up to throw deep the wet ball slipped out of his hands. He ended up recovering it himself.
Lambert’s efficiency rating on Saturday was 63.4, worst than his Vanderbilt performance (98.8). In his other three games it was 220.4, 246.5 and 278.6.
Ramsey’s quarterback rating on Saturday was negative-22.
“We didn’t capitalize. I take responsibility for that,” Lambert said. “That kind of stuff can’t happen, especially in one of these games when you know it’s gonna be a close game. Those opportunities, there’s not many of them in the game, so you’ve gotta capitalize on that.”
Lambert repeated several times that he took “responsibility” for the failings in the passing game. And the struggles began from the start. On Georgia’s first play, Mitchell got past his man on the right sideline on a go route, but the pass was well short, forcing Mitchell to come back for it, where it was knocked away.
“I underthrew Malcolm,” Lambert said.
Did it slip at all because of a wet ball?
“No I just underthrew him,” Lambert said.
Told those comments, Mitchell felt Lambert was being too hard on himself.
“I hate that he even said that,” Mitchell said. “Because it’s a team thing. I know at some point in the game I didn’t what I was supposed to do for him. So I hate that he would even say that. He just shouldn’t have said that. It’s not his fault.”
The pass protection was actually pretty good for Georgia at the outset of the game. But the coverage was too good, and Lambert ended up scrambling several times, or just throwing it away. As the game went on he just missed open receivers, a la the first half of the Vanderbilt game.
Georgia now has to visit Tennessee in a game that is needed to salvage some pride, and establish itself as the SEC East favorite, despite Saturday’s debacle. Lambert’s past two performances, in which he combined to go 33-for-35 with five touchdowns, had infused confidence in Georgia’s passing game. But the struggles against Alabama were clearly a big step back.
“Yeah, I’m kind of looking forward to looking at Tennessee tonight,” Lambert said. “I’m ready to move past this. Obviously we’ll watch film tomorrow and get back to work. But it’s one game. It’s not my first loss as a quarterback. I know how to put it behind us.”