1. When Greyson Lambert took the first snap from center against Kentucky this past Saturday, it’d been three weeks since he’d seen action in a game. But the junior quarterback emerged from the Bulldogs’ 27-3 win unfazed.
He has, after all, been through all this before.
“I’ve sat out many games,” Lambert said with a laugh. “I’ve had to deal with all of this many times. So I’ve appreciated the game since I started playing. You can never take anything for granted.”
Lambert, who starred at Wayne County High in Jesup, spent the previous three years at Virginia. There he was also an on-again, off-again starter. He started a total of 16 games the last two years in Charlottesville, including nine last season before suffering an ankle injury and eventually giving way to Matt Johns.
After losing the starting job to Johns at the conclusion of spring practice, Lambert decided to transfer to UGA under the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule. But he said he didn’t come to Georgia expecting it to necessarily be different.
And it hasn’t been.
Lambert earned the Bulldogs’ starting job despite not arriving on campus until mid-July. He started the first seven games of the season before the Bulldogs decided to go with Faton Bauta in the Oct. 31 game against Florida. Lambert returned to the starting lineup against Kentucky this past Saturday.
“It’s was just exciting getting back out there and being able to contribute on the field,” said Lambert, who was 6-of-13 passing for just 64 yards. “That was more my mindset. ‘Let’s just go out here and get a win and get back in the winning column.’”
That happened as the Bulldogs ran over the Wildcats with 300 yards rushing. Obviously Lambert was counted on to provide much in the way of a passing attack.
“It feels great to get back in the winning column,” Lambert said. “Winning brings a lot of momentum with it. We were able to run the ball really well. Hopefully next week, who knows, hopefully we’ll continue to run the ball and be able to mix in some passing game and be a really balanced offense.”
The Bulldogs expect to have a role for Brice Ramsey in Saturday’s game at Auburn. AJC / CURTIS COMPTON
2. Junior Brice Ramsey also played two series at quarterback against Kentucky, and coach Mark Richt has said both quarterbacks will see action this Saturday when the Bulldogs (6-3, 3-3 SEC) travel to Auburn (5-4, 2-4). Richt hasn’t said which quarterback will start.
The plan this past week was for each quarterback to play two series and then go with the hot hand. While nothing either player did could have qualified for “hot,” the Bulldogs stuck with Lambert after he led him on a scoring drive to start the second half. He ended up playing all but two series.
While he hasn’t been what anyone would describe as a dynamic or tremendously-productive quarterback, Lambert hasn’t been bad. He enters Saturday’s game fourth in the SEC in pass efficiency with a 62.7 percent completion rate and 1,340 yards with 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Lambert insists he’ll be fine with whatever the coaches decide as far as the rotation, this week or the rest of the season. Having been at Virginia for four years without qualifying for a bowl, Lambert is happy just to be a part of a winning team and vows to do whatever he can to facilitate more of that.
“It’s a competition every day,” he said. “Going through what I went through at Virginia has kind of prepared me for this. You just never know what will happen.”
3. Almost forgotten in the wake of his 165-yard rushing performance against Kentucky was the fact that tailback Sony Michel was playing the game with a broken right hand. The sophomore from Fort Lauderdale simply carried the football in his left, non-dominant hand. And besides one play in which he fumbled the ball out of bounds just before he stepped out on the sideline, Michel did not experience any setbacks as a result.
Sony Michel, coming off a 165-yard rushing performance against Kentucky, said he pretty much forgot about his broken right hand. AJC / JOSHUA L. JONES
“I forgot about it to be honest,” said Michel, who now has 715 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns on the season. I couldn’t use it as an excuse for fumbling or any reason for not performing well. So I just went out there and forgot about it and played for my team.”
To be clear, while Michel’s injury – a fractured bone in the middle of his hand – is not what would be described as serious, it could have prevented him from playing. He suffered it on the first play from scrimmage against Florida. But despite missing the next few plays in that game, Michel has practiced and played ever since.
What’s more, he’s doing it while taking several shotgun snaps out of the “Wild Dog” formation.
“My team and my teammates, that’s what I do it for,” Michel said. “I could have easily just said, ‘no, I can’t play. My hand’s broken and I can’t play now more because it’s hurting.’ But you’ve got to forget about that and play for the guy next to you.”
4. Speaking of playing hurt, such an attitude got Christian Payne into some trouble earlier this season. The sophomore fullback from Athens suffered a broken leg the second week of preseason camp but came back in just four weeks and played in the Bulldogs’ second game of the season against Vanderbilt. He aggravated the injury in the next game against South Carolina and then had to sit out another six weeks.
“I pretty much told the trainers how I felt and I felt ready to go,” Payne said Monday. “It just happened again and I had to go through the whole process again. We played it a little more cautiously the second time.”
Make no mistake about it: Georgia suffered in Payne’s absence. The 6-foot-1, 232-pound former walkon won the starting job in spring practice and is by far the Bulldogs’ best lead blocker. It’s no coincidence that UGA ran for 300 yards this past Saturday.
Having to sit out while his team struggled in the interim was difficult for Payne.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “But we have a great training staff here and I felt at ease that they were going to get me back on the field. It feels great now.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt assured a caller to his radio show Monday that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is going nowhere. AJC / JOSHUA L. JONES
5. The Bulldog Nation was flipped on its proverbial ear last Thursday morning when a rumor whipped through the Internet like wildfire that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was going to be fired later that afternoon. Obviously, that proved to be unfounded and Richt finally put the whole thing to rest with a lunchtime tweet.
Georgia’s defense responded this past Saturday with a suffocating performance against Kentucky. The Bulldogs allowed just 180 total yards and only 79 yards rushing while giving up but one field goal to the Wildcats.
A caller into show Richt’s radio show Monday night implored Richt to never let Pruitt leave. Richt reiterated that is not in his plans.
“Here’s the thing about Georgia: We’re a team, and sometimes one side is doing better than the other in a game or any part of the season,” Richt said. “There’s no question, Pruitt and the defensive have done a wonderful job and there’s no doubt he’s the coordinator. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to be. We are looking forward to moving ahead in continuing to get better in all facets of the game.”
The performance of Pruitt’s defenses has been mostly solid his two seasons in Athens. It’s his behind-the-scenes management style and interpersonal-relations skills within the football and support staff that has drawn scrutiny. That is being addressed internally.
6. Richt also indicated during his hour-long broadcast Monday that wide receiver Reggie Davis has been cleared to practice. The junior did not return to the Kentucky game after suffering what initially was thought to be a concussion on a punt return early in the first quarter.
Richt said Monday that it was determined that Davis did not suffer a concussion and rather was just left with a bad headache.
That’s good news for the Bulldogs. Davis not only is the team’s fourth-leading receiver (12 catches, 187 yards) but also their primary kick returner. He has a team-high 14 kickoff returns for 300 yards and eight punt returns for 110 yards.
In Davis’ absence, Isaiah McKenzie and Terry Godwin returned punts. Up-back Kirby Choates had the only two kickoff returns of the day against the Wildcats.
Receiving production is down considerably this season for sophomore tight end Jeb Blazevich. AJC / JOSHUA L. JONES
7. As a true freshman last season, Jeb Blazevich led Georgia’s tight ends and was fourth on the team overall with 18 catches for 269 yards and 2 TDs. Through nine games this year, he has just eight receptions for 74 yards.
On Monday, Richt said the 6-5, 250-pound sophomore from Charlotte has been suffering from “tired legs” since preseason camp and recently has been battling an ankle sprain.
“He has struggled a little bit moving like he did a year ago,” Richt said. “… For whatever reason it just seems like he never really snapped out of it. But now I think he’s as healthy as he’s been. He’s moving much better. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to end up using it more than we have.”
In the meantime, Georgia has been targeting other tight ends. Senior Jay Rome has two receptions in the last two games but dropped a potential TD catch against Florida and frershman Jackson Harris had one catch against Kentucky. Fourth-stringer Jordan Davis was the intended receiver on a seam route against Kentucky but was unable to hang on to Lambert’s well-placed pass for what could have been a long gain.
8. UGA football letterman Reuben Faloughi, who lettered as an outside linebacker with the Bulldogs from 2010-12, is in the middle of the ongoing controversy at Missouri. Faloughi is being referred to as one of the principal organizers in the “Concerned Student 1950’s” — or CS1950 — movement that is protesting racism on the Mizzou campus.
According to a story about Faloughi in The Maneater, an independent Missouri student newspaper, Faloughi says he encountered racism in his home state of Georgia and at UGA. But he said it wasn’t until he got to Missouri that he truly recognized it.
Apologies for the lack of details here but I just ran across this late Tuesday morning. I’ll try to follow up.
Promising freshman forward Derek Ogbeide will be sidelined for a short while to start the season with a shoulder injury suffered in practice this past Saturday. UGA / SEAN TAYLOR
9. Georgia opens the 2015-16 basketball season with great optimism as it plays host to Chattanooga in the opener Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum. But the Bulldogs will do so without the services of one of their most promising freshmen.
Derek Ogbeide, a highly-regarded freshman forward, injured a shoulder in practice this past Saturday and is expected to miss the start of the regular season. However, it’s not expected to be a long-term recovery. A team spokesman said Ogbeide’s injury was “minor” and his “status is undetermined.”
Ogbeide,. a 6-8, 250-pound forward from Atlanta’s Pebblebrook High, scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting and had a team-high 10 rebounds in Georgia’s exhibition win over Armstrong State this past Friday. He didn’t start the game but played 19 minutes and is expected to be a major contributor this season.
10. Georgia’s Zach Healy earned medalist honors for the first time in his career as he led the Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the Ka’anapali Collegiate Classic in Lahaina, Hawaii, this past weekend. The sophomore from Peachtree Corners shot an even-par 71 on Sunday to finish at 8-under 205 and claim a one-shot victory over Clemson’s Brad Dalke.
“I stayed really patient and tried to play stress-free golf knowing that, in the wind, tap-in pars were really good,” Healy said. “I really putted well this week and kept the ball in front of me. I made some key putts and struck the ball real well.”
The 12th-ranked Bulldogs placed second at 3-under 849 after closing with a 2-over 286. Oklahoma completed a wire-to-wire victory at 15-under 837. Healy was supported by senior Lee McCoy, who added a fifth-place finish at 2-over 215