AUBURN, Ala. – Greyson Lambert made a point several times during Saturday’s game to venture into Georgia’s defensive huddle and say, essentially: Thanks.
“We leaned on them hard and heavily today,” said Lambert, Georgia’s starting quarterback, after a 20-13 win that indeed came on the backs of defense and special teams.
Lambert said his message to the defense was “get us the ball back, we’ve got your back, do whatever you’ve gotta do. Keep playing. We love y’all. That’s kidna been the whole game. All of us the last couple of games have tried to play for each other and I can see that really helped us out.”
It was another day of less than eye-popping statistics for Lambert (12-for-17 for 97 yards, zero touchdowns.) But the most important stat may have also been zero, as in interceptions.
When a reporter began a question by saying that Lambert surely would like to throw for 300 yards, Lambert interrupted. He held up his hands, put his thumps together and index fingers aloft to form a letter: W.
“I just wanna win,” Lambert said. “I’ve only thrown for 300 yards once in my career. And that’s counting high school. I got up to 297 I think one time in high school. At the end of the day some of our coaches say it’s a bottom-line business. I just want to win football games. I’ll do what I can to help us win, whether that’s against South Carolina throwing for 300 or if it’s like today throwing for 90-something.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt didn’t get any questions about Lambert or the quarterbacks during his 15-minute postgame press conference. It was the fairest indication of how things went for Lambert: Nothing spectacular enough or bad enough to warrant attention.
There were some bad moments: Lambert threw behind receiver Malcolm Mitchell on a fourth-and-goal, a play that loomed large as Georgia trailed 10-3 at halftime. He also took a sack on a third-and-1, backing up Marshall Morgan’s field goal attempt. Morgan bailed him out by making it anyway.
Before the game Richt vowed that Lambert and backup Brice Ramsey would both play. Not for the first time this season, that didn’t turn out to be true, as Lambert took every snap at quarterback. Although technically all three scholarship quarterbacks did play: Ramsey punted and Faton Bauta was the holder on field goals and extra points.
Lambert has never shied away from the term “game manager.” He’s now 7-2 as a starter at Georgia, whether or not he deserves credit for those wins. This game was due to defense and special teams, with offense essentially doing no harm, using the run game to dominate time of possession.
“That was kinda the plan. That’s Georgia football,” Lambert said. “We wanted to be able to run the ball and have some stuff open up on play-action. We tried some play-action stuff down the field but we weren’t able to execute and complete those passes. We wanted to control the clock and have no turnovers and run the football, play some smash-mouth stuff. I thought we did pretty well with that.”
There were some attempts to make something happen deep with Lambert. Three times on first down he went deep to Mitchell, but the result was two incompletions and an offensive pass interference.
“Would’ve loved to connect on those,” Lambert said. “But always next game to connect on one of those.”