ATHENS – The best passer rating for a Georgia player last year belonged to Terry Godwin, and he was only a freshman. The only problem is he’s a wide receiver.
He’s also a very smart one, at least when it came to dodging questions about how Georgia’s three quarterbacks have looked this spring.
“I really don’t look at who’s throwing the ball,” Godwin said. “I just look at it as if the ball’s coming, just try to catch it.”
It’s hard to predict whether Georgia will hit its goal of 93,000 fans at Saturday’s G-Day. It’s easy to predict which player those fans will be watching the most, and who they’ll be comparing him against.
Jacob Eason came to Georgia with five-star recruit status and the weight of expectations that he could lift Georgia’s offense. But senior Greyson Lambert, last year’s starter, and junior Brice Ramsey are still around, and have actually run first and second team this spring, while Eason was brought along slowly.
Georgia’s practices and first two scrimmages will be closed. This one will be for all to see, and will form about 90,000 judgments about who will start.
Jacob Eason will get plenty of attention on Saturday. (RANDY SCHAFER/SPECIAL).
But what about the coaching staff?
“It’ll figure a lot,” head coach Kirby Smart said, before cautioning that the Bulldogs likely won’t be using their “complete offense,” and may simplify it. “I really hope somebody steps out. I mean I hope they all three play great.”
Lambert heads into the game as the slight favorite, having been first team in every practice, at least when the media was watching. Ramsey has also apparently done well enough to remain in contention. Eason? He’s drawn raves, but he’s still just a freshman.
It sets up quite the quandary for Smart and Jim Chaney (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) as they make a decision. Especially with Georgia’s front-loaded schedule, starting with North Carolina.
Do Smart and Chaney make it about winning the first game? That likely means going to Lambert. Or do they look long term, and throw out the true freshman, or even Ramsey, willing to take some lumps in the name of being more ready for the future?
Is it better to declare a starter after spring practice, as Smart said he’d prefer, in order to have that guy lead offseason workouts and get ready for the season? Or, if there’s no clear starter, is it better to carry the competition and hope it makes everyone better?
Smart was at Alabama last year when Jake Coker wasn’t declared the starter until after the season had begun. That worked out fine.
But recent history at Georgia tilts the other way.
Last year the competition was so unsettled that Lambert parachuted in three weeks before spring practice and won the job. He was named the starter the Monday before the opener, and while Lambert was serviceable, Georgia’s overall passing game was not.
But with Hutson Mason (for one year) and Aaron Murray (for four years) knowing they’d be the starter, Georgia put up big passing numbers.
Smart, appearing on a radio show Tuesday morning, broke down all three of his candidates. Lambert was praised for how he communicates, his level-headed approach, and how he handles the offense. Ramsey, always known for his strong arm, drew praise from Smart for his feet and ability to extend plays. Eason has “made some bone-head throws that look like he should still be in high school, which technically is where he should be right now.”
Smart was asked this week what his expectations were for Eason on Saturday.
“The expectations should be to control the huddle, make the call, go out and execute, make the right reads, make good decisions, throw the ball where you should throw it, make your check-downs, that kind of thing. Just very simple, do the process of being a quarterback,” Smart said. “It’s not (completing) 70 percent of your passes, it’s not three touchdowns, it’s not any statistical number.”