GEORGIA (5-2, 3-2. Defeated Missouri 9-6. Next game vs. Florida in Jacksonville, Oct. 31).
Overreaction narrative: “We won’t go anywhere with Greyson Lambert at quarterback.”
Reality check: If Georgia’s defense can be as effective against Florida and the rest of the season as it was against Missouri, the Bulldogs have a chance to win every game. But let’s not use that game as a barometer. Missouri woke up this morning ranked 125th out of 127 in total offense and 124th in scoring offense. The biggest issue remains quarterback. Nick Chubb’s season-ending injury put greater emphasis on a need for impact plays from the quarterback. Lambert hasn’t done that. His greatest moments came against a weak South Carolina team. (Lambert’s first four games vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Southern: 76.5 percent passing, 7 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Last three vs. Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri: 54.5 percent, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions.) So here’s the question: Do you dare make a change to Brice Ramsey or even Faton Bauta before the Florida game in two weeks. I don’t know that either is the answer. Ramsey was horrible (1-for-6 with two interceptions) in the second half against Alabama. But that was an unfair situation to put him in, with Lambert getting the majority of the snaps during the week and then Mark Richt deciding to make a change with his team trailing by three touchdowns against the best team in the nation. Florida is strong defensively and Georgia will need the quarterback to make a play to win. I don’t believe there’s any way Richt takes a risk, unless Lambert just falls on his face against Florida, but I think of Ramsey starting needs to be explored. And is Bauta that bad that he hasn’t deserved any snaps to this point?
Here’s what Richt said about Lambert on his Sunday night conference call, via Seth Emerson:
“It’s been up and down. No doubt. It’s pretty obvious to see that there’s been some really spectacular moments and some not-so-spectacular. It’s kind of part of the process sometimes. Even though he’s a veteran quarterback he’s brand new to this system, brand new to Georgia, and brand new to the SEC. A lot of firsts for him. … But overall, he’s worked hard for us. He’s put himself in a position to play. It’s been a little bit up and down but I’d say that’s pretty much true of most everybody on the team.”
True. But nobody else on the team plays the most important position on the field.
GEORGIA TECH (2-5, 0-4. Lost to Pitt 31-28. Next game vs. Florida State.)
Overreaction narrative: “We’re dead.”
Reality check: They’re dead. This isn’t to say the Jackets can’t improve. But with five straight losses, including to Duke, North Carolina and Pitt, I don’t see them giving Florida State much of a game and it’s possible they will not win a game the rest of the season. The remaining opponents: Florida State, Virginia (road), Virginia Tech, Miami (road), Georgia. Quarterback Justin Thomas hasn’t had a great season but that’s largely a product of him trying to do too much to compensate for: 1) Dreadful offensive line play; 2) Few weapons to work with, partly because of injuries; 3) A terrible defense. As I wrote Saturday, I understand Tech is playing a number of young players and has had injuries. But there’s really no excuse for Paul Johnson’s team to become unraveled like this. Expectations were high coming off last year’s 11-3 season and Tech should be in the midst of another run to the ACC championship game instead of playing out the season. The one bright spot in Saturday’s loss was the play of freshman running back Marcus Marshall (159 yards, two touchdowns). So that could be one problem fixed.
FALCONS (5-1. Lost at New Orleans 31-21. Next game: at Tennessee).
Overreaction narrative: “I TOLD you this team stinks. They’re not making the playoffs.”
Reality check: Shut up. They’re making the playoffs. After starting 5-0, it would mean they would have to go 4-7 or worse over the final 11 to possibly not get at least an NFC wild card berth. With their relatively easy schedule, I don’t see that happening. It took five fumbles (three lost) for the Falcons to lose to the Saints, and that’s not going to become the norm. However, the defense’s lack of a pass rush is major concern. The Falcons have only seven sacks in six games, half as many as their opponents. Team leaders: Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn with two each. That’s tied for last in the NFL. Without pressure on the quarterback, it follows that the teams ranks 29th in pass defense (290.7 yards per game) and 24th in completion percentage against (67.1). Coach Dan Quinn and defensive coordinator Richard Smith rotate a number of bodies on the defensive front but to this point have failed to come up with a consistent combination that affects the quarterback. The pass rush ultimately will determine how far the Falcons go this season.
•Recent ramblings • Misery like this shouldn’t happen at Georgia Tech • Short takes: Tech’s run of bowls, non-losing ACC seasons will end • Falcons flash some of their ugly past in loss to Saints • Short takes: Falcons still plagued by poor pass rush, turnovers • Weekend Predictions: Spurrier, Cubs, Playboy…and Georgia can still win SEC East! • Spurrier changed face of SEC, and then he walked out the back door • Health would be Spurrier’s only good excuse for retiring in middle of season • Florida quarterback suspended for PEDs — and claims of, ‘I didn’t know’ ring hollow • Overreaction Monday: Chubb’s loss isn’t Georgia’s only problem • There goes Chubb, there goes a loss, there goes Georgia’s season • Short takes: After loss, Georgia is trailing even Kentucky in SEC East • It’s too late to save season but Sefolosha deserved to hear words, ‘Not guilty’ • Weekend Predictions: No fantasy, Chihuahuas will rebound (I think) • Braves may have a plan but it will be a while before masses buy in • Here’s your Depressed Braves Fan viewing guide to the postseason • Overeaction Monday: Now is not time to make decision on Richt • Falcons 4-0, Freeman 7 TDs — who didn’t see that coming? • Short takes: An easy Falcons win, and this is a team to take seriously • Richt and Georgia fall off stage again when it matters most • Short takes: Georgia’s reality check — there’s a problem at quarterback • Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions • Weekend Predictions: Nothing sinister here – Dogs over Bama • Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this • Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves • Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now • Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern • Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons • Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn • Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it • Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? • Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance • Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ • Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance • Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17) • Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position • An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons • Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win • Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game • Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue • Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain