NASHVILLE – The first half against Vanderbilt, it is generally believed that Georgia employed a quarterback despite the lack of numbers supporting such a claim.
Greyson Lambert lived through the worst 30 minutes of his two-game tenure as the Bulldogs starter, completing no passes and having little hand in his team’s scant 14-6 lead.
That cannot stand, he concluded afterward.
“There were things there the first half that were open and I just didn’t hit it,” he said at the conclusion of the Bulldogs 31-14 victory. “It comes down to getting the ball to the play-makers, whether it’s a 30-yard pass or a handoff or a screen, it doesn’t matter. My job is to get the ball into their hands. And I didn’t do that in the first half on a consistent basis – or on any basis at all.”
Despite Lambert’s struggles, Mark Richt did nothing to foment a quarterback debate. He employed backup Brice Ramsey on but one second-quarter possession, in which the sophomore complete 2-of-4 passes before the Bulldogs punted. The coach said later he intended to get Ramsey into the game, but on a limited basis. It was very limited.
Meanwhile, Lambert had little choice but to put that slow start behind him as quickly as possible. “Just keep playing, that’s the only thing you can do in that scenario. Keep playing and keep trusting in yourself and the players around you to get it done,” he said.
By the start of the second half, it became evident that Georgia was in need of something more than a mere game manager behind center.
Lambert couldn’t keep pitching a no-hitter, not even against Vandy. The questions that never arose last week against Louisiana-Monroe were popping up in profusion in Nashville. Grave concern became a part of the offensive game plan, and the Bulldogs seemed to be determined to address that as quickly as possible.
Lambert, the Virginia transfer, came out winging, throwing on four of his first five plays. Not promisingly so. His first pass thudded to the ground like a 55-foot fastball. He threw well behind tight end Jeb Blazevich after that. Finally, he enjoyed his first completion of the game, a 10-yard dump to Nick Chubb.
But a third-down sack ended that drive.
Against an aggressive Commodore defense, the Bulldogs had relied – as they will all season – on other explosive elements. A 77-yard punt return by Isaiah McKenzie. A 31-yard sprint by Sony Michel.
Lambert, who was asked to throw only 12 times in the Georgia opener, had been but a facilitator.
By the end of the third quarter, the Bulldogs driving 66 yards for a touchdown that provided a more comforting 24-6 lead, Lambert had taken a little more active role.
He was 3-for-3 on that drive, the largest of them being a 15-yard strike to McKenzie on third-and-10.
Then, down near the goal line, Lambert joined the potent Bulldogs rushing attack. Out of the spread, he kept the ball and run an unmolested five yards for a touchdown. That was his third career rushing touchdown, his first at Georgia.
“We just didn’t throw and catch well at all in the first half, obviously. A little bit of it was decision making, mostly it was not hitting our target,” Richt reviewed.
“We didn’t move the chains, didn’t get any third down conversions in the first half (0-for-4). We have to be more balanced than we were today to have our offense move really well,” he continued.
Lambert finished 11-for-21 for 116 yards (11-for-16 in the second half). “A much better performance in the second half which was good to see,” Richt said.
Looking to the future, and the thornier part of the Bulldogs schedule, Lambert applied no sugar coating to what needs to happen from here.
“We’re definitely going to have to be able to be completely balanced and protect our running game with our passing game and vice versa,” he said.
“And honestly I think we will get better. I will take it on myself to make sure that happens, to make sure we’re getting in rhythm earlier and getting completions earlier on to keep us going.”