ATHENS – Greyson Lambert finally feels like a veteran in the Georgia offensive meeting room this week.
Every other week this season, Lambert has either had to listen while coaches and teammates explain what it was like to face an SEC team in the past, or find out about the strange non-conference opponent just like everyone else.
Not this week. Lambert not only has faced Georgia Tech before, unlike any other quarterback on the team, but he’s prepared to face the Yellow Jackets more than most of his Georgia teammates.
“They’re talking about: Are we gonna have to go on a silent cadence, and guys are like: ‘Well you don’t know … oh, you do know! How was it whenever you played there?’” Lambert said.
It hasn’t gone particularly well: Virginia was 0-3 against Georgia Tech during Lambert’s three years there, though he only played in one of those games. The two teams are in the same ACC division. Last year Lambert was 19-for-32 for 230 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. (The Cavaliers were much worse rushing the ball, netting just 22 yards on 16 carries.)
Still, the experience itself does help. Not only did Lambert play at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but he prepared against this veteran Georgia Tech secondary last year, and this is now his fourth straight year on a team preparing to play against the Yellow Jackets. (He didn’t play in a 35-25 loss his redshirt freshman year, and was redshirting the year before when the Cavaliers were clobbered, 56-20. So if nothing else Lambert knows what doesn’t work against Georgia Tech.)
“It helps in all aspects,” Lambert said. “Whether it’s going to a familiar stadium, playing against a familiar team. For three years I’ve played against them. Whether it’s actually playing against them I still had to prepare for them. So it’s not a team that I can say I’ve never seen or never experienced their school or what they’re about. I’m very familiar with that, and it definitely helps to, I guess, calm your mind and know you’ve got experience against this team.”
Lambert said he’s already re-watched his performance against Georgia Tech last year, as well as film of Yellow Jacket games this year. There are familiar faces on the other side of the ball: Georgia Tech’s starting secondary includes four seniors.
The Yellow Jackets rank 36th nationally in pass defense, yielding 201 yards per game. Last week Miami’s Brad Kaaya threw for 300 yards against Georgia Tech, though the Yellow Jackets have been better at home.
“They’re a veteran group that’s been in that system for awhile,” Lambert said. “That’s a group that we’re definitely gonna have to be wary about when it comes to where is No. 6 (cornerback Chris Milton), where is No. 28 (cornerback D.J. White). Their corners are very aggressive guys who have played a lot of football. We know what we’re going up against, and it’s gonna be a tough test.”
Lambert is also hoping his timing isn’t just bad: Virginia finally ended the losing streak to Georgia Tech four weeks ago, winning 27-21 in Charlottesville. Matt Johns, who replaced Lambert as quarterback this year, passed for 175 yards and a touchdown, and also had an interception.
Of course the key was the line of scrimmage: Virginia racked up 241 yards, didn’t allow its quarterback to be sacked, and its defense held Georgia Tech to 144 rushing yards.
That’s been the formula for Lambert in Georgia’s wins of late, and could be again on Saturday.
“I’m really excited to play in this game,” Lambert said. “Being a part of this rivalry and being able to go and play once again at Bobby Dodd. I played there last year, so I’m excited to get back.”