ATHENS — Greyson Lambert showed off his ability to hit the deep ball last week. At other times this year he has zipped in slants, back-shoulder routes and simple dump-downs. The ability to complete different types of passes is obviously there.
But so is the tendency to misfire at open receivers. Sometimes it’s not even close, such as late in the Tennessee game when Lambert missed an open Sony Michel on what would have converted a critical third down.
Lambert is aware of this. When he was asked after Wednesday night’s practice what improvement he’d like to make in his game, he repeated a mantra from Brian Schottenheimer: Putting together “streaks of completions,” which Lambert acknowledged he hasn’t been able to do the past two weeks in losses to Alabama and Tennessee.
“If we get a completion, get the ball in our guy’s hands, they always have a chance to make something happen,” Lambert said. “Whether it’s a check-down or just going through your progression or a deep ball. Just any completion.”
“Greyson and I have talked: He’s gotta throw more completions,” Schottenheimer said.
Lambert’s completion percentage this season has varied greatly: He set the NCAA record by going 24-for-25 against South Carolina, and a week later was 9-for-10 against Southern. But against Alabama he was 10-for-24, and at Tennessee he was 15-for-34. Overall this season his percentage stands at 62.1, which is middle-of-the-pack in the SEC.
The record-breaking game against South Carolina started with Schottenheimer calling, and Lambert completing, some high-percentage shorter passes. His confidence grew and he started completing more difficult passes. But Lambert said a hot start isn’t necessarily the key; at Tennessee he started slow but got hot in the second half, throwing some very good deep balls.
“The South Carolina game was everybody, the whole 11, doing their job. And we just executed. Coach Schotty put us in great positions to execute,” Lambert said. “It all just depends on everyone, and how we’re moving along as an offense. I don’t think throwing two incompletions is going to ruin my confidence at all.”
Schottenheimer echoed Lambert, saying it doesn’t mean simply calling high-percentage plays.
“One of the things that jumps out at us is his ability to throw the deep ball. Even a couple that he missed were right close. He had a chance,” Schottenheimer said. “I think he felt good (at Tennessee), he moved well in the pocket. I think he can use that as momentum. I think he got in a groove in that game. He’s had a good week of practice this week. We just want to keep him consistent, and get him off to good starts. I was proud of the way he played in the second half.”
Georgia’s pass offense is also heavily predicated on going through what are called progressions, checking down to find an open receiver. Asked how often he goes to his second or third option, Lambert answered: “Unless the ball’s coming out of my hand really soon, it’s going to the second or third guy.”
Lambert, a junior in his first year at Georgia, said he has a simple outlook.
“When things are going really well it’s everybody. When things are going bad it’s me,” Lambert said. “That’s how I like to put it. Because those guys are laying it all on the line and if I don’t get them the ball that’s definitely on me. When it comes to the offense, I’m the one that touches the ball every play.”