Richt leaves door open to making a quarterback change

Mark Richt watches Faton Bauta (left) and Greyson Lambert (right) at a recent practice.

ATHENS — The intrigue is back at Georgia’s quarterback spot, setting up three days of mystery – at least to the public, and Florida.

Greyson Lambert has started each of Georgia’s first seven games at quarterback. But coach Mark Richt, when asked after Wednesday if there was a chance someone else would start on Saturday, played it coy.

“All I can tell you is we’ve been repping more than one guy with the ones, and we’re going to continue to do that,” Richt said.

In the past Richt and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have said outright that Lambert is the starter. But on Wednesday Richt had several opportunities to re-affirm that and didn’t.

“I think we evaluate that every week at every position,” Richt said. “That’s just how football is. That’s the type of environment that we’re in. Everybody’s job is up for grabs.”

Lambert was still working with the first team during the media viewing period of Wednesday’s practice, followed by Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. That’s the same order the quarterbacks have been in basically all season, and Lambert has started every game.

But Bauta, the fourth-year junior who was No. 3 on the depth chart most of the season, has been seeing increased snaps in practice this week, according to multiple sources. It’s not clear whether that’s simply because he has surpassed Ramsey on the depth chart, or whether Bauta is being prepared to see significant action against Florida.

Tight end Jeb Blazevich, speaking to the media later, was asked if the team knew what was going to happen.

“Yes,” he said.

So this is about keeping Florida in the dark. Thus, Blazevich knew he wasn’t supposed to divulge much information.

“I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say,” Blazevich said, laughing nervously. “But they’re definitely focusing on putting the pressure on guys, and everything like that. I’ll just kind of leave that open-ended. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

Bauta has yet to throw a pass this season, and only threw five last season in mop-up duty. He also doesn’t have as strong an arm or ability to stretch the field as Lambert and Ramsey.

But Bauta is the most mobile of the three, has been described as accurate in his passing, and teammates respect his leadership and knowledge of the offense.

Lambert has been wildly inconsistent this season, setting the NCAA completion percentage record against South Carolina, but struggling against Vanderbilt, Alabama and Missouri. He’s passed for nine touchdowns and just two interceptions this season, but a few more passes have been dropped by defensive players, and he’s missed wide-open receivers at other times.

Richt has acknowledged Lambert’s inconsistency, but on Wednesday night also defended him.

“I said that he played inconsistent, but I think I also said that the better we block, the bigger the pocket, the better it is for the quarterback to throw the ball,” Richt said. “The better the routes, the easier it is to hit a guy who has a little more separation, maybe. So really the inconsistency has been as a team, as a unit. And we’ve been inconsistent in some areas on defense and special teams as well.”

Blazevich was asked whether a change at quarterback could jump-start the offense. Like Richt, he played coy.

“I really don’t know how to answer that. I guess we’ll have to see,” Blazevich said. “But in terms of Greyson that’s not all on him, that’s not all on us, it’s not on one group, it’s on the offense as a whole. … It seems like forever ago because of the bye week, but that’s definitely something we have to improve on. That’s up to the coaches in terms of who they think should be in there.

“Like I said before in the preseason and all summer I’m comfortable with whoever they put in there, because they get paid the big bucks to make that decision, and I have confidence in each one of our guys.”

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FULL MARK RICHT PRESS CONFERENCE

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