ATHENS – Once again there were the passes that showed why Greyson Lambert was able to walk into Georgia in July and win the starting quarterback job in less than two months. And once again there were the throws that reminded you why he lost the starting job at Virginia.
It was that kind of game, once again, for Lambert on Saturday against Missouri. And it’s been that kind of season for Lambert, who said being a Bulldog has “been amazing,” and a “huge blessing.”
Then he frankly addressed his own play.
“My performance has been rollercoaster,” Lambert said. “Hopefully this bye week will help me gain some consistency in that. But we’re 5-2 and we’ve got a shot still.”
But can Lambert do much in the bye week to correct the inconsistency, or does it just come in games?
“A little bit of both,” Lambert said. “I’m still kinda focusing, like I did this past week, in what coach Schotty was saying with streaks of completions, and check-downs, getting the ball – whether it’s down the field or short – allowing them to have a shot to make a play. Continuing to get that mindset that it’s not all-or-nothing on each pass.”
Lambert was 23-for-32 for 178 yards on Saturday. Not bad numbers, really. And there were some very good throws: He made three passes on third down to twice move Georgia into field goal position.
But the bad passes stand out too, including the interception on the first play of the game, and several others that could have been picked off.
It was, a reporter said to coach Mark Richt, another example of a game in which Lambert careened from good throws to bad throws.
“I know,” Richt said.
Richt cited one great play by Lambert: A late third-down completion when Lambert checked down and “threw a bee-bee” to Terry Godwin to get a first down.
“It was a beautiful play. A beautiful decision,” Richt said.
But then there was the game’s opening play, which was tipped for an interception. Richt said he’d have to look at the film. And there was the third-quarter pass that was originally ruled an interception, then overruled on replay.
“From what I could tell it was just an ill-advised throw,” Richt said.
Prior to that play, on first down, Georgia checked from a run to a receiver screen, and it lost five yards. Richt indicated the original call was a run, but that at the line – either by Lambert or Schottenheimer – it was checked into a pass.
“There’s times where we just gotta call the run and run the run,” Richt said. “We do have the ability to do that. But sometimes as a play-caller you’re like: Surely he won’t throw it out there. And bam there it is, and you lose five yards.”
Missouri’s defense deserves some of the credit. Entering the game it ranked 14th nationally and first in the SEC in pass defense, yielding 162.3 passing yards per game.
Lambert said the scouting report on Missouri’s defense was that it forces teams to throw underneath, requiring quarterbacks to be disciplined, and try to avoid the deep throw.
“Because all of us want to get it pushed down the field, but you’ve gotta take the dink and dunk type passes. I got greedy a few times today, and that showed up,” Lambert said. “Can’t do that.”
He fixed the third-down problems that plagued him the previous two games. Georgia came in ranked third-worst in the country in that category, but went 9-for-19 on Saturday. That came with some good, tight throws at critical times.
But on other plays, a bit of luck intervened to prevent disaster. That’s been the case all season, as apparently Lambert throws a ball that is tough for defensive backs to catch. Hence the “rollercoaster” that Lambert knows needs to end.
“We definitely have to look at this game, look at all the games that we’ve played, and use this bye week to get better,” Lambert said.